Thursday 27 January 2011

Stardust Memories [1980]

Stardust Memories was Woody Allen’s unabashed tribute to Federico Fellini’s biting magnum opus 8 ½. And for better or for worse, this also remains one of his most difficult and complex films. Right from the first scene, where we see a famous filmmaker trapped in a claustrophobic railway compartment filled with odd-looking people, the film is Allen’s recreation of the famed Italian film. As we progress we find that Sandy Bates isn’t just a famous filmmaker, his life – surrounded by sycophantic fans, blood-sucking journalists, oddball acquaintances and friends, and stream of self-destructive fiancés, is like a big, unending circus. Though filled with moments of acidic, self-deprecating humour, the film remains in large parts an exercise in surrealism and cruel ironies, and an openly hostile satire on the shallowness of celebrity obsession. Woody Allen gave a measured performance in a role that was both difficult and complex, and his script is acerbic and disturbingly self-critical. The black-and-white photography added a sort of dismal beauty to the crazy proceedings. The film might not be a cup of tea for most filmgoers – and that includes Woody Allen aficionados too, but it remains an important film in his career for the simple reason that this was a huge departure from the kind of films we have come to associate him with.

Director: Woody Allen
Genre: Drama/Social Satire/Showbiz Drama/Avante-Garde
Language: English
Country: US

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