The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 6 Gertrude Stein)

Why Don’t You Go See the Stein Exhibit at the SF MOMA?

By aaufashion

 

If you are in San Francisco for the summer and are looking for something to do, then perhaps you should go to the SF MOMA and check out the exhibit, The Steins Collect.

Through September 6, you can browse the art collection of the Steins which include lauded writer Gertrude and brothers Leo and Michael, and Michael’s wife, Sarah. They were Bay Area natives that uprooted and spent time in Paris when it was a bohemian epicenter in the early 20th century (which is cleverly showcased in the movie Midnight in Paris).

The Steins were one of the first people to recognize the avant-garde talent of famous artists like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. By befriending and supporting artists like them as well as Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and others, they were early adopters of an artistic revolution.

In addition to the exhibition, the SF MOMA will be featuring insightful curator talks, films and other events through its September run.

Midnight In Paris – SPOILER Discussion by What The Flick?!

Associated Press

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in 1934

This video clip below discusses Gertrude Stein’s friendship with Pablo Picasso:

I love the movie “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen and I am going through the whole list of famous writers and artists that he included in the movie. Today is Gertrude Stein.  By the way, I know that some of you are wondering how many posts I will have before I am finished. Right now I have plans to look at Gauguin, Lautrec, Geores Brague, Dali, Rodin,Coco Chanel, Modigliani, Matisse, Luis Bunuel, Josephine Baker, Van Gogh, Picasso, Man Ray, T.S. Elliot and several more.

Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein pic
She Wanted to Write the Way Cubists Painted
How had he been in business in Baltimore?
He had been in business before in Baltimore,
he had not been in business before he was in business in Baltimore.
Business in Baltimore is business in Baltimore
and business in Baltimore is this business in Baltimore.
How many more are there in business in Baltimore than there were before?
–from “Business in Baltimore”

Gertrude Stein came to Baltimore because she wanted to be or not to be a doctor. She wasn’t a stranger to the city; she had various relatives here. But she moved to Baltimore to Baltimore she moved to Baltimore to attend Johns Hopkins Medical School with plans to become a doctor.

Stein was born in Allegany, Pennsylvania, in 1874, and later moved with her family to Oakland, California. When her parents died (she was 18 at the time), she and her brother Leo came to Baltimore to live with their Aunt Fanny Bachrach and near their extended family.

Even while attending Radcliffe College, she returned frequently to visit that family. After graduating in 1897, she returned to Baltimore once again, this time to attend Johns Hopkins Medical School. She never graduated; having made it to her final year, she found her studies no longer enticing. She also experienced heartbreak in the romance department—which may have cooled her enthusiasm for school.

She moved to Europe with Leo, spending most of the rest of her life in Paris. But her influence in Baltimore continues. During medical school, she had become friends with medical researcher Claribel Cone, who became a well-known specialist in tuberculosis. Stein’s friendship with Claribel and her sister Etta would provide great happiness for the Cone sisters and later for the city of Baltimore. Stein taught the Cones to appreciate the works of the French Impressionist painters and introduced them to Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and others. She convinced them to buy Impressionist paintings when everyone else was still buying traditional portraits and landscapes. The Cone sisters amassed and later left to the Baltimore Museum of Art a magnificent collection, including works by Picasso, Matisse, Degas, Monet, and Cassatt.

Many Baltimoreans are probably more familiar with Stein through her association with the Cone sisters-or for the museum’s restaurant that bears her name-than through her experimental writing. Among her most widely read works is Three Lives (1909), fictional portraits of three women, including Melanctha, a liberated and intelligent black woman living in Baltimore. This was a rare case, at the time, of a white writer creating a sympathetic portrait of a black woman. What Stein knew of the black community, she may have learned as a medical student in clinical practice, according to a least one source (Cohen, 1984).

Stein remains a controversial figure in literature—possibly because of her openly gay relationship with her secretary, Alice B. Toklas, and her often inaccessible writing style. She once said that she attempted in her writing to parallel the theories of Cubism, emphasizing the present moment and using slightly varied repetitions. She influenced the American and European literary and art scenes in the United States, befriending many emerging writers and artists, including Katherine Anne Porter and Ernest Hemingway (who said that he and Stein were “just like brothers”).

Gertrude Stein died in 1946 at age 72 from stomach cancer.

John Bumby Hemingway and Gertrude Stein in Paris

Gertrude Stein with John "Bumby" Hemingway in a park in Paris, 1924

Christy Lemire (AP critic and host of Ebert Presents at the Movies, check your local PBS listings) and Alonso Duralde (Movieline) have a spoiler-filled talk aboutt he Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris.

Owen Wilson as Gil and Rachel McAdams as Inez in "Midnight in Paris." 2011 Roger Arpajou / Sony Pictures Classics

Owen Wilson as Gil and Rachel McAdams as Inez in “Midnight in Paris.”

Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics

Owen Wilson’s dudeness and a daring plot twist serve Woody Allen well.

Late-era Woody has been an interesting phenomenon to watch, as his occasional hits (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and stupefying misses (Scoop) come hard on each other’s heels. This year’s offering in his recent “Cities I Have Loved” series is set in Paris, and of course, given the setting and the auteur, is a heady love story. But more importantly, Midnight in Paris is also an exploration of nostalgia, the artistic impulse, and even happiness itself. It’s an entertaining and sometimes hilarious film that belongs squarely in Allen’s “hit” column.

It’s also a very difficult film to write about, as there’s a major plot twist not far into the movie, a plot twist that the filmmakers have taken great pains to conceal from the public. Until recently, the Midnight in Paris IMDB page lacked names for many of the characters, and the twist isn’t explained or even alluded to in the film’s trailer. In the spirit of respecting their judgment of how one can best appreciate the movie, perhaps it’s best not to specifically reveal it here. Suffice to say that in the hands of a lesser director (or even in those of Allen himself, at his weaker moments), the twist would be cloying and cringe-inducing, but Allen makes it work well.

The cast is, for the most part, exquisitely chosen. Rachel McAdams’ natural (and considerable) charm and charisma are a perfect counterpoint to her character, who in her unlikeability actually recalls Billy Zane’s ridiculous cad in Titanic. The part as written needs some balance, but in McAdams, Allen got all the likeability he needed simply from his casting choice. Michael Sheen is a different kind of cad—the pedantic know-it-all that is so fun to hate that it’d be a shame to give him any redeeming qualities. Other standout performances, ones I can’t reveal too much about, are turned in by Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, and Corey Stoll in a pitch-perfect career turn.

And against all odds, Owen Wilson turns out to be an excellent choice for the Allen-esque protagonist (Woody, of course, seldom writes any other type). Wilson seems to project a goofy thoughtfulness naturally, and it softens the edges of Allen’s neurotic writing and draws the viewer in. Unlike many of Allen’s protagonists, we’re really rooting for Gil. Combine that with a daring concept, a charming supporting cast, and some classic Allen zingers, and you’ve got an ideal summer confection for the film buff set.

Other posts with Woody Allen:

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Midnight In Paris – SPOILER Discussion by What The Flick?! Associated Press Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in 1934 This video clip below discusses Gertrude Stein’s friendship with Pablo Picasso: I love the movie “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen and I am going through the whole list of famous writers and artists that […]

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