April 23, 2009 / 5:26 PM / 9 years ago

Woody Allen returns to NY to open Tribeca festival

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Director Woody Allen marked a return to filmmaking in New York by premiering his latest film at the Tribeca Film Festival and saying he usually can’t afford to make films in his beloved city anymore.

Robert De Niro (L) and director Woody Allen arrive at the premiere of the film "Whatever Works" on the opening night of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, April 22, 2009.REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Allen, who has spent the past four years making movies in Europe including last year’s critically acclaimed “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” opened the festival on Wednesday night with his romantic comedy, “Whatever Works,” which stars Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood.

The director of quintessential New York films such as “Manhattan” and “Annie Hall” told Reuters on the red carpet before the screening that he had been forced to leave New York to shoot his previous four films in London and Barcelona.

“I do them abroad because I can’t really afford to shoot in New York because it’s too expensive for me,” he said. “I can make the money stretch further if I’m shooting in London or shooting in Barcelona. Here it’s more expensive, although I had enough money to make this particular film.”

In a bid to woo filmmakers, New York state extended in March a 30 percent film and television production tax credit for one year. The industry welcomed the move but also said the plan lacked the long-term certainty to attract business to New York when cities like Vancouver and Toronto are less expensive.

“Whatever Works” sees Allen return to his trademark romantic comedy style about a relationship that blooms in Manhattan from spring to winter between a cranky, misogynist aging cynic and a young optimistic woman.


An early review of the film by the New York Post on Thursday said the film found Allen “working very familiar territory much less fruitfully than the past.”

In the film, David’s character Boris explains the title of the movie as “in the end, our romantic entanglements are reduced to whatever works” — a philosophy that New York Post reviewer Lou Lumenick likened to some of Allen’s more recent films set in New York as well as this one.

“It’s hard not to conclude that after a couple of more ambitious films he made in Europe, Woody has adopted the same sloppy philosophy to his filmmaking,” Lumenick said of Allen, 73, who has made more than 40 films since his debut movie in 1966.

Actors and actresses who attended the opening included Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Mary-Kate Olsen, festival co-founder Robert De Niro, as well as the film’s star Larry David, the co-creator of television comedy series “Seinfeld” and creator and star of the improvisational comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Allen said David, 61, a Brooklyn-born former stand-up comedian, was reluctant at first to act in the movie.

“It’s a film I had written many years ago for Zero Mostel, and it was in the drawer, and I thought it doesn’t require too much money, and who could possibly do it, and then it hit me, maybe Larry David,” Allen said.

He added that if the film did not do well it would not be the fault of the actors, who told reporters at the opening that Allen stretched their acting skills.

“I give them parts where they don’t have to do just car crashes or toilet jokes,” Allen said. “Maybe the film stinks because I have written a bad script or I have directed it poorly, but the actors get a chance to do well.”

Additional reporting by Phil Furey; editing by Michelle Nichols and Will Dunham

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