Stardust Memories -- AMC Academy, Avalon, K-B Janus, NTI Annandale, Old Town, Roth's Randolph and Roth's Tysons Corner.
The star and co-star of "Stardust Memories" are Woody Allen and his image. The former plays a superstar filmmaker, and the latter is seen through the satirized reactions of his relntlessly devoted fans, passionate lovers, supercilious detractors and incompetent employees.
Just as the early Allen persona struggld unsuccessfully with elevators that talked back to him and with his inability to get a date, the current one endures the same frustrated resignation because he is unable to keep a chauffeur for his Rolls-Royce or to find "the perfect mate among the parade of beautiful women woh pursue him.
We see this character being always patient, kind and tolerant, giving even the most crudely demanding fans the courtesy of his thoughtful attention. The effect is of a talented, humorous, humane person being exploited by greedy fools.
Is this perhaps slightly less sympathetic then his earlier character, who was having such a hard time trying to get a modest share of life's satisfactions? Is the person who has too much any less worthy of our attention than the person who can't get a fair share?
In dealing with the image, Allen has anticipated such criticism, apparently believing that to acknowledge it is the same thing as to dispel it. Glibly unattractive people in the film accuse the hero of self-indulgence, shallowness and egotism. They seem to be the otherside of the stupid groupie coin.
Allen has also cleverly but falsely represented the position of critics who attacked his film Interiors on grounds that can also be applied to Stardust Memories. He shows the conflict as being between comedy and tragedy: Will a mass audience, pretentiously appreciative of funny movies accept serious work? (Allen's funny pictures are hit; his "serious" attempt, Interiors, was a flop.)
But wait -- is it really true that there is no mass audience for serious film? No; there are as many, if not more, successes among films that do not attempt to be comic as among those that do.
It is posible, therefore, that the problem is not a general one, but an individual one. His early hero represented the frustrations of Everyman; his current one the frustrations of a uniquely successful filmmaker. Similarly, the trouble with Allen's seriousness is not every serious artist's trouble, but Allen's. When he keeps telling us that people won't accept "reality," he is talking only about his own failure to represent it.
What does he give us for depth? A character who runs around asking "why is there so much human suffering?" and "why can't I find the perfect mate?" and "is there a God?" There is nothing wrong with these questions, which are asked by every thoughtful tennager, but one expects some elaboration when they are posed by an artist.
Allen's comedy is appreciated because it's good. He has a wonderfully original comic view of the commonplace, as demonstated again in this film. And his tragedy is unappreciated because it's no good. He is not an original thinker, as is made painfully obvious for the second time.