"The funny thing is for a guy who says he hasn't had any influence, put any word before 'Woody Allen' and names will come up of filmmakers who have been compared to him in one way or another," said Weide, noting how Albert Brooks has been called a West Coast Woody Allen, Nicole Holofcener a female Woody Allen, or Spike Lee a black Woody Allen.

PHOTOS: The many movies of Woody Allen

Allen carefully guards the storylines of his upcoming projects. Meaning that when he refers to "Magic in the Moonlight," his upcoming film starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone, as "a romantic movie, amusing … It's a romantic comedy set in the South of France in the 1920s," it feels slightly like he's revealing state secrets.

The film after that, he goes on to say, will be set in the United States, though he would not confirm where — it depends in some part on where he decides he can stand to spend a summer.

When Allen says "the Colin Firth-Emma Stone film is over and history to me. 'Blue Jasmine' is ancient history," it perhaps speaks to the way in which Allen's work ethic and astonishing output — writing and directing a film a year for more than 30 years — also in some ways put him forever on the run.

By the time a movie comes out, he has likely already shot and edited another one and is two paces ahead. In a way he's not responsible for, or accountable to, the reception any one film receives, positive or negative, because he has already moved on to something else.

"People are free to say anything they want about me good or bad, in the press or in life," he said, perhaps alluding to his occasional appearances as a topic of tabloid speculation. Or perhaps not, as he also added that he hasn't read a review of his work or an article about himself in more than 40 years.

"I realized the less preoccupied you are with yourself, the better you do," Allen said. "You don't want to read that you're a genius, you don't want to read that you have no talent, you don't want to read how gifted you are or what a lowlife you are. The best thing is to just work."

mark.olsen@latimes.com