Film & TV: Woody Allen: A Documentary & Stardust Memories

documentaryI watched Stardust Memories only a few days after ”Woody Allen: A Documentary” (2012) by Robert B. Weide. Which, by the way, is every bit as entertaining as a good Allen film, starring Woody as himself… with a a little help from his friends, associates and co-stars. In a rare submission to his private life being exposed, Allen’s sister and film producer Letty Aronson joined the club, instants from his childhood and youth were candidly discussed, we even got glimpses of his mother! A rare chance to peer into the mind, life and work of the neurotic, funny and endearing genius that is Woody Allen. Highly recommended, especially to those who -like me- by no means belong to his ”most loyal fans” group, have not watched his every movie at least four times (certainly not some of his more recent ones); those who didn’t know, for example, that he is still typing on the *one and the same* typewriter he owned for sixty years (which ”still works like a tank”), nor that his idea of copy-pasting is using actual scissors and staplers, sticking bits of paper together… Or that, every time he is about to start a new project, he opens his ”drawer of ideas” next to his bed, pulls out stacks of paper and picks through scribbles and notes assembled over the years. There’s such a combination of childish appeal, grown up cynicism and -most of all- energy in this 77-year young man, I was spellbound!

Woody Allen in docu

Woody with his ”tank” of a typewriter

stardust memories poster bwIn Stardust Memories (1980), he is Sandy Bates but could just as well have kept his own name, for this film is as autobiographical as it gets… which he strongly denies in every interview ever since. I know he has his reasons: his audience felt so insulted by Sandy’s dismissive and contemptuous approach towards his admirers, I can still hear the echo of accusations… but really everything in this film shouts ”Woody”: his famous neuroses and complicated relationships are there; Fellini, one of his biggest influences is omnipresent – the film is actually an homage to Fellini’s 8½; Allen’s own debut in show-business as a magic tricks performer is featured; Sandy is a director who doesn’t want to make ”funny movies” anymore – Woody’s Interiors, in 1978 marked his departure from the ”funny movie” line… if that’s not autobiographical, I don’t know what is!

But autobiographical notions aside, this is a brilliant film with an upbeat, smart narrative -so typically WoddyAllen-esque- and a strange dreamy quality that I really enjoyed; by the way, in all ”seriousness” I actually found it a very ”funny movie”: more hilarious quotes than I can remember, surreal conversations with alien tin men, Sandy’s anger symbolically materializing as an angry hairy monster…

I was also captivated by the gorgeous Charlotte Rampling, and not just her pretty face; as Allen once said “She was just right for that part. I mean, she is so beautiful and so sexy and so interesting. She has an interesting neurotic quality”. 

charlotte rambling

Not forgetting of course Sandy’s other women: Jessica Harper as the intellectual, secretly(?) lesbian Daisy and Marie-Christine Barrault as the lovely, carefree French mother-of-two.

marie-christine barrault                                                    jessica harper

I found the jazzy wallpaper in Sandy’s apartment which changed to match the mood, quite awesome and I wish I could have one in mine:

wallpaper1

And I only realised who that girl was only after reading the credits (sorry Sharon)! Miss Stone’s glamorous debut in the bizarre and surreal world of feature films…

sharon stone2

sharon stone1

sharon stone

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4 thoughts on “Film & TV: Woody Allen: A Documentary & Stardust Memories

    • I’ve always liked Woody but after this documentary I just find him really adorable! I’m not too keen on his more recent work but I’m sooo looking forward to watching Blue Jasmine… It’s his great come back from what I read.

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