Stardust Memories (1980)

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Woody Allen directs himself, Charlotte Rampling and Jessica Harper in this arthouse satire where a filmmaker is the star guest at a weekend retrospective of his own work, while trying to unpick his complex relationships to women.

A pleasant surprise this. One of Woody’s best that I had long avoided due to iffy critical standing. He visually apes Fellini and a bit of Bergman and the result are sumptuous. Gorgeous monochrome vistas are danced around in. The opening moment of Kafkaesque disappointment is a brilliant wordless joke. Though you wouldn’t want to be cast as an extra in any of this. Every crowd shot features a gaggle of cloying and grasping grotesques. Psychologically I don’t know how sound all of Woody’s confusion and frustrations are but he lands as many laugh out loud jokes here as in his “earlier, funny ones.” Proof that despite his desire to explore drama and stretch his pretentions as a serious filmmaker he still had it in him to tickle us.

9

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