This is Woody’s 8 ½. Explicitly, from the monochrome first moments as Sandy Bates (Allen) is trapped in a bus filling up with sand, it is clear Fellini is on his mind. Sandy is also a filmmaker challenging the studios to accept his latest art-house offering, opposed to his “early, funny” films that many expect (and often prefer). Crinkly faces at the start recall Bergman while studio-execs conversing in silhouette imitate Citizen Kane. Stardust Memories is open about its influence, blatantly “ripping off” scenes from Allen’s heroes. Of course, there is romance as we puzzle together three lovers: an ex-girlfriend Dorrie (Charlotte Rampling), a potential family with Isobel (Marie-Christine Barrault) and a young-lover in Daisy (Jessica Harper). It is his honesty that is inviting. We like Woody’s comedies – even Martians do – but he’s desperate to make something that matters. Stardust Memories aspires to be more, but remains a cine-literate celebration.
This was originally written in February 2014 for Flickering Myth‘s ‘Woody Allen Wednesday’s’