Leo Stein and sister Gertrude Stein’s salon is in the Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris”

Below is a press release from a museum in San Francisco:
 the steins were known for their saturday evening salons, where artists, writers, musicians, intellectuals, and collectors gathered to discuss contemporary art, culture, and ideas.  the stein salons have even been described as ‘the first museum of modern art’!
 midnight in paris transports you to the stein salons in paris during the 1920’s.
in one scene, gertrude stein (played by kathy bates), is seated in the salon of her residence at 27 rue des fleures in front of the picasso portrait of gertrude stein from the exhibition.
stein and picasso (played by argentinian actor, marical di fonzo bo) are discussing a (faux) portrait of picasso’s (fictional) mistress, adriana (played by marion cotillard).
kathy bates as gertrude stein | midnight in paris
gertrude stein | oil on canvas | pablo picasso | 1905-1906
metropolitan museum of art | new york, NY
photo by metmuseum.org
 gertrude stein in her salon writing | black and white photograph | man ray | 1920
beinecke library | yale university | new haven, CT
in another scene, stein and matisse (played by french actor, yves-antoine spoto) are negotiating the purchase of a painting.  for 500 francs!
woman with a hat | oil on canvas | henri matisse | 1905
sfmoma | san francisco, CA
photo by ben blackwell
tHenri MatisseHenri Matissehe midnight in paris cast of characters also includes gertrude stein’s brother, leo stein (1872-1947), her partner, alice b. toklas (1877-1967) (who answers the front door), and other avant-garde artists, writers, or musicians who could have frequented the stein salons in paris during the 1920’s.
cameo appearances include:
artist  
salvatore dali (played by adrien brody)
photographer
man ray (played by tom cordier)
writers 
 ernest hemingway (played by corey stoll)
f. scott (and zelda) fitzgerald (played by tom hiddleston and alison pill)
t.s. eliott (played by david lowe)
filmmaker
luis bunuel (played by adrien de van)
and, musician  
cole porter (played by yves heck)
the chronology isn’t always art historically accurate.  but, midnight in paris is a woody allen film, so being in the right place, doing the right thing, at the wrong time just becomes part of the fantasy.
maybe you will enjoy this unexpected combination of art and entertainment as much as we did!
________________________-

Little Rock Indie Movie Examiner

Nelson Terry is new to the world of movie reviews, but not to movies.

Midnight in Paris is a 2011 film by Woody Allen. It stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Kathy Bates, Tom Hiddleton, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy, Michael Sheen, Alison Pill, Corey Stoll, Carla Bruni, and Lea Seydoux. it is currently showing at Market Street Cinema and at Rave Motion Pictures Theaters in Little Rock.

This is my first Woody Allen movie. I think this may be his 40th or 41st film, and I am just now getting to him.

The film begins with a cinematic montage of famous Parisian locales. It’s pretty obvious this film is a love letter to the city. Then we get the opening title sequence, and hear the voices of Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams). What becomes obvious after the first minute that this engaged couple is completely mismatched. That they are engaged (much less together at all) makes no sense. Inez (who is totally unlikable) has no interests in Gil’s interests, he has no interest in hers. And it turns out she may not even respect him at all, there are several scenes in which she talks to him as if he were a child. Gil wishes to ditch his successful yet unfulfilling career as a Hollywood screenwriter and become a novelist, Inez think this is silly. Her unlikable parents (Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy) are even more dismissive of Gil than Inez is. That Gil and Inez are even a couple isn’t at all believable, but maybe that’s the point.

Things get going when an inebriated Gil leaves Inez with her friends. He attempts to walk off the wine, and a 1920’s era car pulls up to him, and the people inside beckon him in. The car turns out to be Woody Allen’s version of Doc Brown’s DeLorean, and Gil finds himself in the Roaring Twenties.

“If you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?” – Doc Brown

Our funny-nosed hero arrives in a party attended by none other than F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleton), his girl Zelda (Alison Pill), and a hardened Ernest Hemingway. He later meets Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody), and Picasso’s muse named Adrianna (Marion Cotillard, who shines even when the movie does not) who studied fashion under the wing of Coco Chanel. At first, I thought that Gil was merely drunk and/or delusional. The historical figures seemed not to resemble real-life people, but exaggerated versions of their biographies. It later becomes clear that yes, he did indeed travel through time. He goes back and forth from the past to the present, and does this while acknowledging and dealing with a personal crisis. While that sounds like it would lead to a satisfying conclusion, it ultimately does not.

There are multiple levels of nostalgia on display here. Internally, Gil is nostalgic for his idealized version of 1920’s-era Paris. Externally, film critics and Woody Allen fans are nostalgic for the high standard of films Allen used to make. Many of them seem to be giving this one a pass simply because it’s:

‘…better than anything he’s done in a decade!’

The consensus seems to be that it’s been a while since Allen has done a superb film. While that may certainly be true, that’s not the proper way to judge a film. We shouldn’t be judging Midnight in Paris on whether it makes up for his mediocre recent films. The question should be:

Does this film stand firm on its own?

In my opinion, no. Gil and Adrianna are the only characters with any real dimension in this film. The time-travel scenes are packed to the brim with talented actors and actresses playing legendary authors, but that’s precisely the problem. Each of them does what they can with such limited screen time, but it’s all for naught. There’s so many of them, that none of them can claim enough screen time to make an emotional impact. It’s all just fluff. Pretty, Parisian fluff. And the present-day scenes are just flat-out painful. Every present-day character apart from Gil (and maybe the street vendor, played by Lea Seydoux) is a loathsome caricature. Versatile actress Rachael McAdams’ is reduced to playing a one-note harpy. She’s had more human roles in films such as epic tearjerker The Notebook and even Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. Midnight in Paris might has worked had Allen chose not to have Gil go back-and-forth from past to present-day, but to simply have one time travel sequence that took up the bulk of the movie. A lot of top-notch talent in this picture, but most of it goes to waste.

This is the fourth movie I’ve seen that stars Marion Cotillard (also Inception, Nine, and Public Enemies), and she’s played sad/tragic roles in all four (great roles, don’t get me wrong). I’d like to see at least one movie where she has a happy ending. I like Cotillard, I think she’s one of the best current actresses in Hollywood (or anywhere else).

I can’t completely dismiss the film. There are some good moments (mostly the scenes when Gil allows himself to have a good time), but those moments are fleeting. Midnight in Paris wants to say something deep, but lacks the courage to go all-in.

But then again, maybe this is just Woody Allen’s style, and maybe I’m just not a Woody Allen fan.

 

 
 

(Part 32, Jean-Paul Sartre)July 10, 2011 – 5:53 am

 

 (Part 29, Pablo Picasso) July 7, 2011 – 4:33 am

(Part 28,Van Gogh) July 6, 2011 – 4:03 am

(Part 27, Man Ray) July 5, 2011 – 4:49 am

(Part 26,James Joyce) July 4, 2011 – 5:55 am

(Part 25, T.S.Elliot) July 3, 2011 – 4:46 am

(Part 24, Djuna Barnes) July 2, 2011 – 7:28 am

(Part 23,Adriana, fictional mistress of Picasso) July 1, 2011 – 12:28 am

(Part 22, Silvia Beach and the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore) June 30, 2011 – 12:58 am

(Part 21,Versailles and the French Revolution) June 29, 2011 – 5:34 am

(Part 16, Josephine Baker) June 24, 2011 – 5:18 am

(Part 15, Luis Bunuel) June 23, 2011 – 5:37 am

 
Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: