By Jess Maiuro
Lazy? Not exactly the word that comes to mind, but it was how filmmaker Woody Allen described his filming techniques on his latest movie Cassandra’s Dream. Cinema studies professor Dr. Cynthia Lucia got a chance to interview Allen over the phone the day before the film’s release in New York.
The interview was for Cineaste magazine, a publication that’s devoid of tabloid-ish backgrounds of the actors or filmmakers and primarily focuses on the art itself. Lucia has been writing for the magazine since she completed an internship there in the early 1990s.
“When I was saying lazy, I meant it,” Allen said, displaying his unique humor during the interview that has already appeared in Cineaste online and the print edition.
But don’t let Allen’s self-deprecating humor fool you. Cassandra’s Dream is a story about desiring status and how far you will go in order to achieve it. Two brothers, Terry (Colin Farrell) and Ian (Ewan McGregor), live average lives and idolize their uncle (Tom Wilkinson), a successful plastic surgeon. When they ask the uncle for some money, he in return asks them for a favor: to “get rid of” one of his business partners in order for their American Dream to come true.
“Allen is very thoughtful with all of his movies and most of them are dark and cynical,” Lucia said. “For example, Annie Hall is a melancholy story about whether true love can actually exist. He is very tuned into the darkness of human nature and at the same time maybe that’s why he’s so funny.
“He makes the dark things so that they can be looked at both ways, and that is what makes him a good filmmaker. The subject of the conscience is bred into him and his film, and he has the ability to tap into contradictions very well.”
Even though Lucia doesn’t think Cassandra’s Dream is Allen’s best film (her favorite is Manhattan), she said that interviewers should find a nice way to address personal issues they see in the given work.
Lucia found out that the storyline for the movie was originally from a play written by Allen, but it was less complicated than the film. In the play, the uncle doesn’t ask for a favor in return, so Allen took it a step further.
“He focuses very well on the dynamic of the family and about what a family contributes in a larger way,” she said.
Lucia has interviewed many other famous filmmakers and actors for Cineaste, including filmmakers Lizzie Borden, Patrice Le Conte and Sally Potter, and actresses Joan Allen and Susan Sarandon.
“A lot of times very famous people, like Susan Sarandon, are over-interviewed so it takes longer to get away from their generic answers,” said Lucia. “Woody Allen didn’t give off that type of feeling.”
She added that Allen is “very well-read, clever and witty.” He showed off his knowledge of Greek Mythology with Cassandra, a prophet doomed to make accurate premonitions no one believed. He also had a movie that was part of a three-story piece cleverly titled Oedipus Wrecks, which Martin Scorsese directed.
Lucia went on to say that not only does she learn about the person she is interviewing, but over the years she has learned more about herself as well.
“I find interviewing to be very inspiring,” Lucia said. “Listening to the rhythm and cadence of a person’s voice can be mesmerizing. Despite who they are it’s so interesting to really get a glimpse of what [their] character is truly like.”