Jyanni Steffensen Her feet covered many cocoons...
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The History of Star-Cross'd Lovers on Film

Orlando Jones staged a Russell Crowe Film Festival for her own benefit. She spent hours engrossed in the pursuit of her new obsession, trolling Amazon.com and the electronics markets of Jinzhou for videos. She was amazed that he had acted in so many films that were unknown to her. These were not films from his early career, but recent films - three or four years old. She had to admit though that it was only because of Gladiator (dir. Ridley Scott, 2000) that her interest had been aroused. It had been because Scott had directed Gladiator that she had seen it at all. To be honest, she had avoided the film in the cinemas in Australia, but found it on video everywhere in China. Crowe's performance had come as an unexpected bonus. Her interest in Scott dated from the time when she had been writing her doctoral thesis. She had included a chapter on Blade Runner, relentlessly unravelling the narrative from a single line of dialogue: "Is this testing whether I'm a replicant or a lesbian, Mr. Deckard." Crowe entered the scene as a side effect of her affection for Scott's brooding aesthetic. Gladiator was vaguely ominous as though the events had taken place in a permanently overcast period. She was particularly enthralled by the opening sequence in the bluish wintry light of a forest. She was struck by the stillness of Crowe's Maximus, the spareness of speech and gestures. She searched for the gaps in the character - the slips where the actor always appeared. She felt like a psychoanalyst. Crowe (the actor), however, did not appear. She was bound to lose interest sooner or later although she re-watched L.A. Confidential several times. Later, she discovered that one of the American teachers had shown A Beautiful Mind to the second year students. Orlando Jones showed them Monster's Ball.

In the meantime she launched her program of The History of Star-Cross'd Lovers on Film for the elucidation of her students (and herself). Firstly, she screened Marguerite Duras' The Lover to see what her students would have to say about the "unacceptable scandal" of the impoverished French schoolgirl and the wealthy Chinese man in Saigon in the days of French colonialism. She screened it too because she loved the film, especially the steam driven ferry that chugged its way sluggishly (and perilously it seemed to Orlando Jones) across the wide, brown Mekong, belching black smoke. The students giggled and twittered their way through the sex scenes (charmingly discreet though the scenes were), adding dialogue where they thought it necessary. One tall male student who rarely spoke answered "Yes" loudly when the rich Chinese man (Tony Leung) was asked by the young French girl (Jane March) whether he had lots of mistresses. All of the students murmured recognition when Tony Leung stepped out of the big, black car on the ferry. She considered showing them The Chinese Box next but at the last minute settled for The English Patient (dir. Anthony Minghella). She thought that the scene where Count Almasy (Ralph Fiennes) said to Katherine Clifton (Kristin Scott-Thomas) of their clandestine (therefore bound to be star-cross'd) affair: "Maddox knows, I think. He keeps talking about Anna Karenina. I think it's his idea of a man-to-man chat," was a classic. Her students laughed loudly at that point in the film. At the end they were silent.

At night she went back to her private theatre of Crowe films.

Orlando Jones had been out banqueting with the Chancellor and the head of the Municipal Bureau of Public Security (the Police Chief) again. The dancing Chancellor was at his best, somewhere between Fred Astair in anything and John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. The American teachers sang karaoke badly (at full volume and catastrophically out-of-tune). Orlando Jones wondered whether singing tunelessly was a white American cultural tradition or whether it was actually genetic. Nevertheless, white Americans appeared to believe that it was a human right to sing loudly and without rhythm, in public places. Orlando Jones, nonplussed, picked at the candied sweet potatoes (now solidified) with her chopsticks.

non-sequitur n (Latin) statement that does not follow logically from the previous statement(s) or argument(s).