There was Gertrude Stein right in front of me, on the big screen, her portrait painted by Picasso hanging on the wall directly behind her. There was the interior of her big house in Paris, the salon where so many artists and writers came to discuss their art forms, an intellectual meeting place, they came to understand, to explore, to challenge and be challenged, to hear the opinions, as well, of Gertrude Stein, a Paris guro of a kind in her own times. Only this time, it was Kathy Bates, the actress, playing at being the all knowing, opinionated Gertrude, the writer, the art collector, the friend and patron to the likes of Picasso and Matisse.
Could it be more timely, my having returned recently from viewing the Gertrude and Leon Stein Collection on exhibit on the walls of the San francisco Museum of Modern Art? Could I be feeling any closer to having known Gertrude myself? By now, I thought, we (she and I) had reached an understanding, a compatability, unknown in my own time, a meeting of the minds.
Well, obviously this was true of Gertrude and Woody Allen as well. In fact he seems to be familiar with all of them, the writers F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, the composer and lyricist Cole Porter, and the painters Picasso, Gauguin, Lautrec, Dali, Degas , not yet having achieved their full fame . Yes, I spent a wonderful afternoon at the movies.
Woody Allen functions on so many planes of thought in the movie "Midnight in Paris". And it's beautifully photographed. If you aren't well acquainted with the greats of the 20's and earlier, check out the following review (below) to clue you in about what to watch for, and what you are experiencing. I did, and found it so helpful in digesting the wit and whimsy taking place so quickly before me on the screen. Enjoy the treat!
See Ebert's review: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110524/REVIEWS/110529987