A little more than 30 years ago, Woody Allen opened a cinematic valentine to his hometown with these lines:
“Chapter One. He adored New York … He romanticized it out of all proportion … New York was his town, and it always would be.”
Apparently, always doesn’t last as long as it used to. The Brooklyn-born filmmaker who defined a Big Apple aesthetic with “Manhattan,” “Annie Hall,” “Broadway Danny Rose,” “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” “Bullets Over Broadway” and many others has become less enamored of the city he once epitomized.
Now Allen has told journalists at a press conference in Spain that he could no longer afford to shoot in New York, even though European shoots require him to adjust his stories to fit the location.
He added a swipe at American filmmaking – saying the majority of films over the past decade has been made just for money and lacked creative spirit. In comparison, he said European films were much more artistic.
Since “Match Point” in 2005, Allen has made nearly all of his films in Europe, often drawing heavily on financial incentives to ease the cost of production, and on backing that is contingent on his filming overseas.
The city of Barcelona, for instance, put up 10 percent of the budget for Allen’s Oscar-wining “Vicky Christina Barcelona.”
His current film, “Midnight in Paris,” is shooting in France. His upcoming “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger,” which premiered at Cannes and will screen in Toronto, was shot in London, as were “Match Point” and “Scoop.”
The New York media, of course, played up Allen’s latest comments as a big snub directed at his hometown.
“These days, more often than not, Allen's movies are financial and critical disasters and if the Europeans want to prop him up while he keeps churning out sad little comedies then let them,” sniped Gawker in a piece headlined: “Hey, Woody Allen: Please Stop Bitching About New York.”
Of course, Allen’s bitching has been mild – and he’d probably still agree with those opening lines from “Manhattan.”
In an interview in the 40th anniversary issue of New York magazine, for instance, he still sang the praises of his town, even as he’d been working elsewhere.
“[F]or some reason I’ve always had an irrational love for New York,” he said. “There’s no reason that you would necessarily like it on paper. It’s very expensive. Very little of it works. I’ve made films in many cities — London, Barcelona — where the people are very polite and courteous. You think to yourself, Oh God, this is a pleasure. And New York is nothing like that. But the city is so full of chaos, and the chaos is, for many people, pleasurable.”
In other words, he’s not giving up those Knicks tickets quite yet.