NEW YORK — On a sweltering Manhattan day, it’s hard not to think of Woody Allen’s 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.
“To Rome With Love” 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 hasn’t received very good reviews, but Allen is on to his next film with plans to begin shooting a movie in August, again starring Baldwin.
Q: You’ve often described filmmaking as a constant process of disappointment in not realizing your initial idea. What keeps you trying?
A: You always think that you’re going to do better the next time. ... Sometimes you do better than the last time, sometimes you don’t. ... You’re constantly thinking, “This next one, I’m going to really nail it. Everything’s going to be perfect.” ... And of course it’s far from perfect.
Q: What was your concept for “To Rome With Love”?
A: 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.
Q: Have you ever felt you accomplished the film you set out to make at the start?
A: A couple of times I’ve felt, “Gee, I’ve come very close to my original concept here.” ... For me, the trick is to execute my original intention. The audience may wind up hating my original intention. And it may be that when I prostitute the film and don’t live up to the original intention — let’s say like “Hannah and Her Sisters” — it’s a big success, and a bigger success than if I had achieved my original idea.
Q: How did you want “Hannah and Her Sisters” to be different?
A: It was much darker. I softened it a lot, and then people liked it. But I didn’t. It was too neatly tied up.