A conversation with Woody Allen

Associated Press Published: June 22, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — On a sweltering Manhattan day, it's hard not to think of Woody Allen's old line about preferring air conditioning to the Pope.

Allen's Park Avenue office and screening room are a cool sanctuary, far off the Manhattan street and away from the heat. Asked if he was looking forward to the New York premiere that evening of his latest film, "To Rome With Love," he answers "No" with comical quickness.

Depending on how you count, "To Rome With Love" is the 76-year-old filmmaker's 45th film, a total he's amassed by making, with remarkable consistency, a film a year. It's also his eighth film made in self-imposed exile, traversing European capitals.

His last movie, the Oscar-nominated "Midnight in Paris," was his biggest box-office hit ever, a success Allen greets only with a shrug.

"To Rome With Love" — as much of a European postcard as Allen has made — is an ensemble farce about numerous characters (Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Ellen Page) chasing conflicting desires in the Eternal City.

The film, which opened Friday in New York and Los Angeles, hasn't received very good reviews, but Allen is already onto his next film, with plans to begin shooting a movie in August — again starring Baldwin — that will take him back to New York and also to San Francisco.

Allen chatted with The Associated Press about filmmaking Woody's way:

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AP: You've often described filmmaking as a constant process of disappointment in not realizing your initial idea. So what keeps you trying?

Allen: You always think that you're going to do better the next time. It's deceptive. Sometimes you do better than the last time, sometimes you don't. It's like a gambler. You're constantly thinking, 'This next one, I'm going to really nail it. Everything's going to be perfect.' And you do it, and of course it's far from perfect.

AP: What was your initial concept for "To Rome With Love"?

Allen: The people in Rome who distribute my films (Medusa Film) always kept saying, "Come to Rome and make a film." Finally, they really got serious. Then I was faced with having to write something for Rome.

AP: Did you ever think that you'd be part filmmaker and part travel guide?

Allen: No, I never wanted to or expected to make a film outside of New York. New York became very, very expensive. The same $18 million spent in Barcelona or Rome goes much further there. I've had six other offers since then. ... I don't know if I could do that indefinitely.

AP: Your earlier films seemed to be more searching and questioning.

Allen: You can see them as searching, but you would find that after time, the conclusions are grim. No matter what kind of sugarcoating people put on it — whether it's a religious sugarcoating or a philosophical sugarcoating — no matter what they tell you, the facts are grisly.



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