PARIS - Approaching 80 with a handful of Oscars under his belt, American film veteran Woody Allen says what drives him still is the desire to make a great movie.
"I'm 76 now so I don't think that's going to happen, but I keep trying," he told journalists on Monday in Paris in his typical self-deprecating fashion.
"I would like to make a movie that I could... show unashamedly at a film festival" alongside the likes of "Rashomon", "The Seventh Seal", or "8 1/2" - movies he considers masterpieces, Allen said.
Of the 45-odd films he has made, about six or eight were "better than the others", said the acclaimed screenplay writer, but "I would like to make a great movie and that drives me".
Allen was in the French capital to promote his latest offering, "To Rome with Love", which stars Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin and Roberto Benigni and sports an appearance by the director himself.
A tragi-comic study of relationships and the fickleness of celebrity, Allen said the film, like all his stories, has "a sad underside".
"Underneath every story that I write, even if they are played out in a comic manner, there is a sad kind of reality to them," he said.
"In the film I make the point that life is very difficult whether you are a celebrity or not a celebrity."
Allen said he had no intention to retire as he enjoyed working too much.
"Maybe some day I will be forced to retire because I am older and something can happen to me or I will not be able to raise the money any more to make films," he said.
But even then, "I don't think I will retire, I think I would just write for the theatre or write for the printed page. I can't think of being alive without working."
The American comedy writer, playwright and movie-maker said he hoped to shoot several more films in Europe, and had been approached to do work in China, Russia and South America.
His next movie will be set in San Francisco and New York.
Claiming that he has never suffered from writer's block, Allen said he pens his scripts by hand before typing them up on the same typewriter he has used since the age of 16.
"I am not technologically gifted. I don't have a word processor or a computer, I have never sent an email to anybody," he said.
As he was questioned by journalists about his favourite drink and exercise routine, Allen mused that the benefits of celebrity far outweighed the disadvantages - one of the themes of the new movie.
"The bad side of being a celebrity is paparazzi, lack of privacy, people asking you constantly for autographs or to pose for photographs. But that is not really so terrible, it is not life threatening, it is not awful. You can learn to live with that, it is not a big sacrifice.
"But the good part of being a celebrity, there are so many privileges you get, many of them very undeserved but you get them nevertheless."
Asked if infidelity could add spice to a struggling relationship, the thrice-married jazz fan whose private life has often been the talk of the tabloids, said: "Not in real life".
"In the movies it is very important. Infidelity, murder those are things... that are very important in drama but in real life fooling around is exhausting and terrible."
On old age, Allen said it did not automatically bestow sageness.
"It is a big myth that when you get older you become wiser and more mellow and more accepting of life," reflected the film veteran who plays a former opera director battling to resign himself to retired life in "To Rome with Love".
"There is no advantage in old age. It is a bad deal and people that try and put a good spin on it by calling it your golden years are fooling you," he said.
On a happier note, the comic confided that one of his greatest pleasures in life was a daily walk in New York with his wife, Soon-Yi.
"Sometimes the only exciting activity of the day... She takes me out like one walks the dog, really. I like it very much."