#146: Stardust Memories
Not the 8½ imitator most people think is ‘the best’, Stardust Memories manages to transcend its inspiration with its laser-sharp focus, consistent hilarity, and persistent puncturing of its protagonist’s psyche (sorry!). Droll and witty in a self-deprecating measure unusual even for Allen, the film revels in the dichotomy between Willis’ gorgeous cinematography (dare I say it, better than Manhattan?) and the pettiness of the sycophants, professional colleagues and UFOs that plague Allen’s Sandy Bates. As usual in an Allen film, the female characters are greatly more complex than those he writes for himself. Rampling is able to convey so much with so little, and Harper’s innate tremulousness is used to its best effect. The observation that joke-telling can be more beneficial to mankind that writing turgid, socially important prose is as old as Sullivan, but jokes followed by a degree of introspection can be even better for film fans!