When Woody Allen first discussed the idea of “Midnight in Paris” with his younger sister and producer Letty Aronson, she advised him against it, saying the story of a modern-day writer mixing with historical literary figures wouldn’t get anyone into theaters. The siblings, who have worked together for close to two decades, agreed to disagree, mostly because Allen’s motivations aren’t ever financial.

“I’m not after seducing audiences. I’m after trying to make a film that I like,” Allen says.

Though Aronson gently called the story “too literate,” it has become one of Allen’s biggest B.O. successes in years — and, incidentally, not a film the director necessarily likes.

“(When) you cook a meal all day long, the last thing you want to do is eat it at the end of the day. It’s the same thing here. I see it a thousand times every day. And by the time the picture comes out, I just never want to see it again,” he says.

Allen says he sees every new film as a fresh opportunity to try to make “Citizen Kane” or “The Bicycle Thief,” and a fresh idea always takes on an exciting momentum for him as a filmmaker.

“And then I put it together and I look at it, and it’s never a world masterpiece on the scale of ‘War and Peace.’ It’s OK. Some of them are not OK,” he says.

Not surprisingly, the trademark pessimism that runs through so many of Allen’s films hasn’t diminished as he’s grown older. “I don’t see any satisfactory answers to the human condition, which consists primarily of suffering. Without some magical solution, I’m very pessimistic,” Allen says.

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Woody Allen | Stephen Daldry | David Fincher | Michel Hazanavicius | Terrence Malick | Bennett Miller | Alexander Payne | Jason Reitman | Martin Scorsese | Steven Spielberg
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