Here’s a Imaginary interview with Woody Allen. No, not the cowboy from Toy Story. (Oh oh oh I know! Lily Allen’s father!!) No! What are you thinking ab… (Shut up man! Woody Allen, the guy from Antz)…that’s correct, but he ain’t just “The guy from Antz”. Ladies and Gentleman, Woody Allen is one of the most brilliant movie director, writer, actor and producer ever.
This post is sort of a collage of Allen’s best interviews over the years, which I carefully selected and puted together here. I added a few lines to make it look more realistic, more personal, I know you’re gonna like it.
“I get to Allen’s place 10 minutes early. I wanna be prepared for this interview.”
He’s making his breakfast, which, despite living for many years with a household staff including chauffeurs and cooks, he makes himself, in the same way he has every morning since he was a child living in an overcrowded apartment in Brooklyn: a bowl of Cheerios, with raisins and topped with a banana, which must be cut into exactly seven slices.
‘I’m very superstitious,’ he explains, ‘about a lot of things.’
He asks his wife for a cup of coffee. -I can’t live without this. At a certain age, you conclude that greatness is not in you.- he says.
I take out my pen and a sheet of paper. The interview begins.
What’s Woody Allen’s six favourite Woody Allen movies?
“There are a few better than others, half a dozen, but it’s a surprising paucity of worthwhile celluloid. My six favorites are Purple Rose of Cairo, Match Point, Bullets Over Broadway, Zelig, Husbands and Wives, andVicky Cristina Barcelona.”
Are you a philosophist?
“Human Beings are divided into mind and body. The mind embraces all the nobler aspirations, like poetry and philosophy, but the body has all the fun.”
Are You proud of being Jew?
“To be a Jew was not something that I felt ‘Oh, God, I’m so lucky.’ Or ‘Gee, I wish I were something else. It just happened.”
Are You worried of being too old as to enjoy life?
“I want you to enjoy me. My wry sense of humor and astonishing sexual technique.”
What do you think are the basic elements that turn a romantic comedy into a classic?
“You find that, over the years, certain comedies remain fun to see fifty years later and other romantic comedies, which were delightful for people at the time, do not. When I was a boy, I went to see many films that were delightful romantic comedies with June Allyson and Esther Williams and Gloria DeHaven and I liked them just fine. But now they’ve kind of vanished. And there were others I saw, like The Shop Around the Corner, that year after year remain wonderful films. You look up after many years and you find that a movie has become a classic because it has become meaningful to people and remains alive decade after decade.”
When you were interviewed about the characters in your film, Interiors, you said, “There’s something of me in all of these characters.” Does that statement apply to all of your films?
“Hmmm. This film was an attempt to deal with the same subject, but in a more comic way than Interiors.”. The subject matter is still the same thing. It’s still about the inability of people to relate to one another and people deluding themselves into some sense that there’s some extra meaning to life when it is, in fact, just a meaningless experience. And yet, in the end, even faith of some kind is better than no faith at all. Years ago, I was on a television show with Billy Graham and I was taking this position of a bleak outlook on life. Billy Graham said to me that even if I was right and he was wrong—even if there was no meaning to life and it was a bleak experience that he would still have a better life than me. Even if he was 100% wrong, our lives would still both be completed and I would’ve had a miserable life wallowing in a bleak outlook. He would’ve had a wonderful life, confident that there was more. And so that was one of the main themes of this picture.
You’ve made over 40 films. Is there anything left that you have a burning desire to achieve?
“I’d like to make a great movie. I’ve made many movies. I think I’ve made some good movies. I don’t think I’ve ever made a great movie. If you think about movies like Rashoman or The Bicycle Thief or 8½ or Grand Illusion, I don’t think I’ve ever made a film that could be on a program with those films. I’m not saying this out of false modesty or self-deprecation. Realistically, those are enormous achievements. I’d like to make something like that. It would be fun. But you can’t set out to do that. You get lucky and if you work enough, maybe one of them turns out to be terrific. But so far, that hasn’t happened.”
What about your films, with their metaphysical preoccupations? The references to Kierkegaard?
‘I’ve always been obsessed with mortality and subjects that are, by accident, more philosophical than topical. I would never want to make a film about gay rights, or abortion, or black civil liberties – they don’t interest me artistically.
‘The things that interested me turned out to be philosophical themes: Why are we here? And why is it so terrible?’
Still, I suggest, these are hardly unintellectual concerns.
‘Well – they’re given more weight than…’ he trails off. ‘I mean, I have nothing to add to those subjects. I can only complain about them.’
What was the last film you saw that you really liked?
‘Oh, God. This is…’ he begins, and then considers the question for a long time in silence. ‘Hmm. Oh. Gee, I don’t know. I haven’t seen anything I loved recently, and I’ve seen a lot of pictures.
Even the hi-tech spectacle of Avatar has passed me by. The last 3D movie I saw was the House of Wax.
I’ve heard good things about the James Cameron juggernaut, Diane Keaton said it was just great and that, you know, the 3D was great.’
(Eventually, he gives up; later, he mentions that he enjoyed the French prison thriller Un Prophète; and the following day, through his assistant, he also recommends his friend Roman Polanski’s The Ghost.)
Has Technology catched you?
‘I’ve never emailed anyone in my life, or received an email. I wouldn’t know how to do that,’ he tells me. ‘I have no interest in it. I don’t own a computer, you know, or any of that stuff..
‘Each one of my kids has a computer for school, and they work it. And one of them has a…
(He pauses for a moment, as if fixing his grasp on a prickly fragment of a foreign language)
(It’s a surprise, then, to find our conversation interrupted by a ringtone sounding from Allen’s trouser pocket, and see him pull out an iPhone.)
I need it to practise the clarinet whenI travel-he explains-.
When I go away to Paris, or to anyplace, I have 1,200 jazz records in this. So when I have to practise, I put on my earphones and I can play with all those New Orleans bands.’