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Woody Allen on magic, movies, and life’s meaning

The Associated Press

Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” stars Colin Firth as a stage magician and Emma Stone as a young medium whose self-proclaimed powers he’s trying to debunk. Allen shared some thoughts with The AP about magic, filmmaking, and the meaning of life –or, in his view, the utter lack thereof.

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ON PEOPLE CLAIMING TO HAVE MAGICAL POWERS:

I don’t think it’s a real thing. I wish it was. I always find those things nonsense and exploitative and hypocritical and offensive and I have no patience with it. You know, in the 1920s, these people were always able to fool very educated people — but oddly enough they could never fool magicians, like Houdini. They were the ones who exposed them.

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ON KNOWING WHEN A MOVIE WILL BE A HIT:

I have no idea. I’m always disappointed in each one when I am finished with it. So I don’t think about it — I just make the film. I could never figure out why more people didn’t like “Hollywood Ending.” It was a funny idea that I was a blind film director, you know, psychosomatically blind. The jokes were good and I executed them well. So I’m shocked when people come, and when they don’t come.

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ON LIFE’S (LACK OF) MEANING:

You’re just a human being on the face of the earth, and you’re an insignificant agglomeration of cells and neurons and eventually that expires … and it’s terrifying and so unpleasant that we dress it up in any possible way we can, from the church to making a billion dollars to being an alcoholic to painting pictures and thinking, “Well, I have a legacy and my paintings are going to live on after me,” which gives you some sense that you’re going to live on, but you’re NOT going to live on — you’re going to be dead, and the paintings are just decayable objects that will eventually be gone, and so the message is an extremely grim one.

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ON WHETHER EXPERIENCE MAKES YOU BETTER:

I wish that were true. In an art form, you start from scratch all the time. You gain a little technique over the years, but you don’t get better where it counts. Inspirationally — that’s in the lap of the gods.

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