Woody Allen dislikes his own films but has no plans to retire

By Romain Raynaldy, AFP

LOS ANGELES–Woody Allen says he can’t stand watching any of his own films — but the 76-year-old U.S. filmmaker insists he has no plans to retire. Speaking in Hollywood — the home of an industry the New York veteran famously scorns — he also joked about his latest movie, “To Rome with Love” in typically self-deprecating style. “’To Rome with Love’ is a terrible title. My original title was ‘Bop Decameron,’ and nobody knew what the Decameron (a 14th century Italian book of stories by Giovanni Boccaccio) was, even the Italians didn’t know,” he said. “So I changed it to ‘Nero Fiddles,’ and half the countries in the world said ‘we don’t know what that means, we don’t have the expression.’ So finally I settled on a generic title like ‘To Rome with Love’ so everybody would get it.” The director who made his name with films including “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan,” and who famously makes movies at the rate of more than one a year, compared the process to cooking. “When you make a film, it’s like a chef who works on a meal. After working all day in the kitchen, dicing and cutting and putting sauces on you don’t want to eat it,” he told reporters, promoting “To Rome with Love” in Beverly Hills. “And that’s what I feel about a film. I work on it for a year. I’ve written it, I’ve worked with the actors, I’ve edited, I’ve put the music and I just never want to see it again.” He elaborated: “When I begin a film, I always think that I’m gonna make ‘The Bicycle Thief,’ ‘Grande Illusion’ or ‘Citizen Kane’ and I’m convinced this is gonna be the greatest thing that ever hit celluloid. “And then, when I see what I’ve done afterward, I’m just praying that it’s not an embarrassment to me. So I’ve never been satisfied or even pleased with a film that I’ve done.

“I make them, I finish them and that’s all.

“I made my first film in 1968, I’ve never seen it since. I just cringe when I see them, I don’t like them. “I’ve never liked any of them, and I’m always thankful that the audience like some of them in spite of my disappointment. It’s always to me less than the masterpiece I was certain I was destined to make.” Even Woody Allen’s fans concede that the director has gone through weak periods — most agree the last few years have seen a return to form, and even commercial success. But he insisted that his embarrassment about his own movies extends to classics including “Annie Hall” (1977) and “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986). “In ‘Annie Hall’ the relationship between myself and Diane Keaton, that was not what I cared about. That was one small part of another big canvas that I had. “And in the end, I had to reduce the film to just the relationship between me and Diane, so I was quite disappointed in the end of that movie,” he said. “’Hannah and Her Sisters’ was a big disappointment, because I had to compromise my original intention tremendously to survive with the film.” “To Rome with Love” — which was released in the United States on Friday — tells parallel stories about a series of couples. It stars Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page and Roberto Benigni. Allen, who has not acted in one of his films since “Scoop” in 2006, also returns to the screen as the father of a young American woman about to marry her Italian boyfriend.