Woody Allen Wednesdays – Stardust Memories and Match Point

Every Wednesday, FM writers Simon Columb and Brogan Morris write two short reviews on Woody Allen films … in the hope of watching all his films over the course of roughly 49 weeks. If you have been watching Woody’s films and want to join in, feel free to comment with short reviews yourself! Next up is Stardust Memories and Match Point …

Simon Columb on Stardust Memories…

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. 

Simon Columb

Brogan Morris on Match Point…

To bring to life contrived morality thriller Match Point, Woody Allen makes two insane casting decisions. First, he casts Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Chris, the retired tennis pro set to marry the wealthy Chloe (Emily Mortimer). Second, in a move that may be either fatal or genius depending on your opinion, Allen casts Scarlett Johansson as the American woman Chris immediately falls for. With dialogue lifted from daytime soap operas and long, smouldering looks between his empty leads, Match Point could secretly be Woody Allen’s parody of the psychosexual thriller. It’s a completely unbelievable film, with the desperate path that Chris chooses to go down in the last act indicating Woody firmly believes the attitude of the UK upper classes towards scandal hasn’t changed since Victorian times, but it’s also undeniable entertainment, provided it’s watched as simple escapism and not much more. It’s sexy, soapy hogwash.

Brogan Morris – Lover of film, writer of words, pretentious beyond belief. Thinks Scorsese and Kubrick are the kings of cinema, but PT Anderson and David Fincher are the young princes. Follow Brogan on Twitter if you can take shameless self-promotion.

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