Owen Gleiberman answers some reader questions
What movie was bad the first time you saw it but as time went by grew on you? — Ray
Woody Allen’s ”Stardust Memories.” It’s a little hard to remember now, but in 1980 Allen was still looked up to with an adoration that made him the alienated geek’s favorite culture hero. So when he followed ”Manhattan” with a movie about a beloved, once-funny-now-serious American filmmaker (clearly modeled on himself) who felt trapped by his fame, his women, and his vulgar, grasping fans, most of Woody’s own fans, including this one, reacted as if betrayed. After a while, however, I took another look at ”Stardust Memories,” and I began to discover that we were all wrong. What seemed at the end of the ”Annie Hall” era like an angst-lite, poison-pen gloss on Fellini’s ”8 1/2” is actually a witty and startling confessional portrait of Allen’s demons and confusions. In this movie, he foresaw his inability to live up to the romantic role we’d carved out for him, and he cast a ruthless eye upon the unreality of that role. If you love Woody Allen but hate ”Stardust Memories,” trust me, you should see it again.
What is the most interesting movie failure? Why is it so riveting to watch? — Scott
”… And Justice for All” (1979) may be the most loony-tunes courtroom drama ever made. It’s so far-fetched in its ”exposé” of corruption that whenever it comes on TV, I can scarcely take my eyes off the screen. It also marked the first time that Al Pacino, cast as a crusading attorney, went over the top into an aria of shouting (”You’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order!”). It’s easy to see why Pacino felt as if he had to jack up the melodrama: The whole movie is out of order.
(Got a movie-related question for Lisa or Owen? Post it here.)