|Index||4 reviews in total|
We saw this on public television and thought that it was an excellent
portrayal of the relationship between these two fascinating women. They
lived openly as a couple in a time when it was a good deal more
dangerous and unusual to do so than now.
Linda Hunt as always is a riveting actress, and Alice B. Toklas may have been the more interesting member of the couple. I certainly wouldn't call Linda Bassett "starry-eyed" - she's as masculine, egotistical, and commanding a presence as she was described in real life. This production is fairly true to Gertrude's autobiography, which she published under Alice's name.
What a gem this is. Out of the blue, a perfect partnership between Linda Hunt as Alice B. Toklas, and the far too underrated Linda Basset as Gertrude Stein. Watching this film is like a dream, and you completely suspend disbelief about some (deliberate) anachronisms. I have watched this so many times and cannot be bored. As well as being visually beautiful and intellectually witty, the two woman spar and jostle, sometimes angrily, for room in their relationship. But their love, devotion, and admiration for each other never wavers. Quite amazing. I am so glad that the DVD release offers a thorough commentary by Jill Godmilow the director --- we discover that Jacques Boudet's charming-cute diction as Appollinaire stems from the fact that he understands no English and learned his scripted lines phonetically!). The only negative: the soundtrack for some outdoor scenes is unclear. 10 out of 10. I will watch this lovely contemplation of Alice and Gretrude all my life.
The richness and romance of the lives of Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein
is poorly and bitterly portrayed in Waiting For The Moon. It is no wonder
that the video went out-of-print before the ink was dried on the
The stately and mannish Gertrude is played by a pretty and starry-eyed Linda Bassett. Alice, her demure and gypsy-like lover and secretary, is played by a sharp-tongued, tantrum-throwing Linda Hunt - looking more like Gertrude's grandmother than her paramour.
This is not a happy film, although its intention may be otherwise, and for Stein-aholics and Toklas-aphiles it is a huge disappointment. One of the most beautiful romances of this century deserves a portrayal better than this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Wondering so winningly in several kinds of oceans is the reason that
makes red so regular and enthusiastic." This is one of my favorite bits
from "Tender Buttons." This is also one of the reasons I did not engage
with the film: the film does not wonder winningly;
where is Gertrude Stein's unique sense of language and rhythm that should inform the film?
We have some nice camera movement going to and fro and lingers and is most distinctive in the very end but not distinctively so, and accompanying a big misunderstanding. Playfully changing the tablets of another famous Gertrude Stein bit, that is her allegedly last words, and to Toklas, "What is the answer?", and since Toklas did not respond, "Then what is the question?" - here being "Can we go to the next question?" "Yes," says Toklas, "the answer is yes", "what is the question then," asks Stein, only to get a small chain of "yes" by Toklas to each phrase she says.
This is a big misunderstanding, and exposes the actual embarrassment, if not total misconception of who Gertrude and Toklas are for the makers of this little film: this row of "yes" snaps one as being borrowed from Joyce's "Ulysses," with his final affirmation of life and femininity. This never occurs in Stein. Never, ever, does she have this direct approach to affirmation and her great experiment of present continuous which the film's editing tries to approach, her approach is disjunctive and playful, and it is the sweeping rhythm and the rhymes between compact words inside a sentence that gives us a bounce and proves more affirming than direct affirmation. No bounce here.
It is also a thing of wonderment that the makers of this film tried to improvise the psychology of Stein and Toklas instead of relying on the books and the letters preserved; also the fact that the actress portraying Stein did not took advantage of the recordings where Stein's warm staccato voice can be heard.
As it is, the film plays more like some kind of side-glance to a modernity placid and flowery like the Bloomsbury community, rather than affirming the unique conscience of the true genius Stein truly was, or, opting for a double portrait, giving us something of the greatest perhaps love story of the twentieth century.
The film stands like a description of our expectations. And as Stein said, descriptions are not literature.
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