Watched Aug 10, 2012
Mitchell Beaupre’s review:
He can deny it all he wants, but Stardust Memories is probably the closest we'll ever get to a direct look into the mind of Woody Allen. An homage to Fellini's 8 1/2 (or, as one of the characters in the film says, "We stole the damn thing"), Memories focuses on the life, mind and career of Sandy Bates, a filmmaker played as usual by the writer/director himself. While attending a retrospective of his work, Bates is hit with memories of his past loves, his inspiration for his material and leagues upon leagues of fans and critics.
Allen's script bounces chaotically through films within the film, through Bates' real life and his fantasies or his work, and while at times I admittedly became lost in what was real and what wasn't, it was always quite an interesting look into the perspective of this "character". Allen always maintained that the film wasn't autobiographical, but if it wasn't straight from his life there were at least clear influences and comments on certain facets of it. From critics scolding him for his more serious, personal films of late to his own desperate desire to do something truly meaningful, Stardust Memories presents Allen at his most bare and it's a fascinating study.
Primarily a work that is more interesting than it is entertaining, he still finds time to include a solid amount of comedic material that had me laughing from time to time. The cynical side of him comes out in spades, and all of the meta-commentaries on Bates' work and what it all means provides for plenty of rich material. At the end of the film, one audience member asks another what they thought Bates' Rolls Royce represented in a film he starred in, and the other responds "I think it represented his car."
Stardust Memories must have been something of a relieving exercise for Allen, as he seems adamant on displaying his frustrations not only with his fans and the critics, but especially with himself and his own sense of hopelessness. It's a very interesting film, particularly when viewed within the context of its place in Allen's career, coming right off of Interiors and Manhattan, the mark of his divisive evolution from straight comedy into more dramatic and morbid material.