North Carolina Newspapers is powered by Chronam.
Thurcdsy, Octcbcr 10. 1CC0
n A 7
i Ui lb
I M A it.
Dy TOM MOOSE
y r g ILL Woody Allen fans like
Y i ,K f Stardust Memories? If s his
V w . ' most cynical film, it lacks
the romanticism that made Annie
Hall and Manhattan so popular. It .
doesn't have as much of the zany wit
.that made Allen a cult hero. And it
doesn't have any characters with
which the audience can readily
identify, which made Interiors
bearable. - v - ,
Stardust Memories, written and
directed by Allen, is the story of
Sandy Bates (Woody Allen), a
celebrated comic filmmaker, who
against his will spends a weekend in
New Jersey with a bunch of film
enthusiasts. Stardust has a free
association narrative, sort of like that
of Annie Hall, but more chaotic.
While at the hotel, Allen has
memories of his love affair with a
beautiful but highly neurotic actress
(Charlotte Rampling). He calls up his
French mistress (Marie Christine
Barrault) who soon arrives on the
scene and becomes somewhat
distressed because Bates has become
infatuated with-a concert violinist
Interspersed with these romantic
goings-on are memories of Bates'
childhood and various fantasies. :
Reality and fantasy are Juxtaposed in
Stardust Memories, and it becomes
rather hard to distinguish between the
Bates' life is complicated even -more
by the constant assault of fans.
It seems like every two seconds
someone is rushing up to Bates to tell
how wonderful he is, asking him to
make some benefit appearance
before a group, and begging him for
his autograph. One fellow says,
"Could you just write 'To Phyllis
Weinstein, you unfaithful lying
Just about every person who says
something to Bates tells him they
''really love his films. Especially the
early funny ones." Bates, like Allen,
has decided to turn his hand towards
more serious, things.
The scenes in Stardust Memories
dealing with Bates' fans have been
interpreted as snide nose-thumbing at
Allen's fans. Andrew Sarris says in his
review, "Stardust Memories is the
most mean-spirited and misanthropic
film I have seen in years and years
from anyone anywhere." But it's not
"mean spirited," as Sarris, other
critics and some viewers suggest.
People attach a absurd significance
to celebrities. Who hasn't gotten into
some discussion about what famous
folks they've actually seen?
Allen has become a special sort of
hero to a generation of Americans. At
first in films like Bananas and
Sleeper it wa's because he was a
downtrodden schmuck who scored
back at the world with his vicious
barbs. But as Allen has evolved as a
storyteller and filmmaker, he's come
to mean much more to his audiences.
His films deal with the problems of
living of trying to work things
out and Woody Allen has become a
neurotic Everyman. People look up at
the screen and see themselves.
The fans that bug Allen torture him
unknowingly with their crazy
demands. He shows us this in Stardust
Memories through . brilliant, brutal
caricatures. v . ;
Some critics have suggested that is
an attempt on Allen's part to scatter
some of his audience, to become a
little less popular. However,
considering Allen's artistic integrity,
this seems an invalid and too serious
analysis. One of the major points of
Stardust Memories is that critics and
the public take films and celebrities
too seriously. Asked what he was
trying to say in one of his films, Sandy
Bates replies: "J was just trying to be
funny." Trying to dissect things
further, Alien says, usually results in a
ounch of horsefeathers.
Stardust Memories obviously
borrows much from Federico Fellini's
8V2 and Ingmar Bergman's Persona.
The film hasn't been criticized as
much for this as have Brian De
Palma's Dressed To Kill and Paul
Mazursky's Willie And Phil other
movies that take much from classic
films. Perhaps this is because Allen
answers such criticism with a joke.
Asked if a scene in one of Sandy
Bates' films was an homage to Vicent
Price's House Of Wax, Tony Roberts
answers, "No, we just stole the idea."
But Allen does more than just steal
the idea from Feltini. There are many
parallels in the two stories. In both, a
filmmaker is plagued by his public.
Both have three women central to the
director's life. What seems
particularly glaring is that Allen
borrows much from Fellini's style. He
looks at wide range -ov life's absurdities
By MARX MU SHELL
Woody Allen ...
OODY Allen's new book is bound in his
. favorite color black. Alien s latest
J J collection of stories, Side Effects, deals
with funerals, murders, broken diets, insanity,
assassination, terminal illness and unrequited love.
Needless to say, each of Allen's sketches is hilarious.
The absurdity of life, Allen's favorite theme,
certainly is the main point of Side Effects. This has
been Allen's favorite subject since he wrote Without
feathers, but Side Effects finds his treatment of the
subject more mature and well-developed.
Though the one-liners are guaranteed to make you
laugh out loud ("Cloquet hated reality but realized it
was still the only place to get a good steak"), these
sketches hang together better than many of Allen's
previous ones. Some of these works are actually
cohesive enough to evoke morals such as: "Insanity is
relative, why do I exist?" or "Why am I reading this
existential comedy while eating canned toxic wastes
But the dark themes of this book only enhance
Allen's comic genius. He can comfort the reader by
insinuating that the insane inclinations we all often
have are OK.
How many times have you felt l.ke this?
"He wanted to run and hide, or, even better, to
become something solid and durable a heavy chair,
for instance. A chair has no problems, he thought If s
there; nobody bothers it. It doesn't have to pay rent or
get involved politically. . and you never have to
worry that if you take it to a party it will suddenly
start coughing or make a scene. People just sit in a
chair, and when those people die other people sit in
Jean-Paul Sartre couldn't have said it better.
As in all of his books, Allen's neuroses are what we
find entertaining because we all share the same fears
and anxieties to a degree.
Woody Allen has never been afraid to tell the truth,
and in 'My Speech to the Graduates," he doesn't
spare us future citizens of the real world any anxiety.
"More than any other time in history, mankind
faces a crossroads," Allen says. "One path leads to
despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total
extinction. Let us pray we have wisdom to choose
It is impossible to say that all of Allen's one-liners
are brilliant. Some fall flat, but others are worth
waiting 20 pages to enjoy.
"The Condemmed." "By Destiny Denied" "The
Shallowest Man" and "Retribution" may sound like
titles from hard-hitting films, but they are actually
titles of some of the best pieces Allen has ever
uses the same sort of grotesque faces
in Stardust Memories that've
populated Feltini films for years.
Allen uses subjective camera in
Stardust Memories the same way
Fellini does in 8 VS. Fans manically
rush up to the camera spouting idiotic
Such scenes are designed brilliantly
by cinematographer Cordon Willis,
who shot the last three Allen films as
well as the two Cod fathers. Allen
recently has become known as a fine
director of actors; he used to be
limited to directing himself. Stardust
Memories, like Annie Hall and
Manhattan, is filled with fine
performances from Woody Allen,
Jessica Harper, Marie Christine
Burrault and Charlotte Rampling in
the leads, and from Larraine
Newman, Louise Lasser and many
others in smaller parts. But the roles
are more fragmented in Stardust
Memories, so they don't linger as long
as in earlier Allen films.-
What is more mernprable than the
acting or the jokes is try? look of the
film. Stardust Memories is an essay in
film style. Individual shots stand out:
Charlotte Rampling on the floor
reading; balloons floating through the
sky; faces of the damned on a train
Stardust Memories is a haunting
film representing a new kind of turn in
the continually amazing career of
Tom Moore is arts editor for The Daily
Though most were published previously in The
New Yorker and the Kcnyon Review, Side ffect is a
great book to have around on a cold, gray day when
everyone is wearing thick black sweaters.
Woody Allen is still proving that he is a brilliantly
He says his only regret in life is that he is not
someone else. I wish he were running for president.
Mark Murrcll is features ed.tor for The Di'ly Tar lift!.