My Work Week, Mademoiselle

Tuesday, May 14th, 2002 | Film, Work

Another tough day at the office today–I had to work until 12:30 this afternoon, 30 minutes overtime. I don’t see how people work more than 3 hours a week. I said to my boss on leaving, “Have a nice weekend,” which caused him to stop for a moment to consider if it weren’t indeed Tuesday afternoon. My weekend starts on Tuesday afternoon and ends Monday evening. (My work schedule is like Edina Monsoon’s.) I work for a landscape designer, who is also one of my oldest and dearest friends. He’s from a long line of California gardeners, so his connection to the landscape is very deep. We worked together as gardeners for a while, but then he got to be an überdesigner and turned the maintenance route over to me. I missed our gossiping/philosophizing/girltalk sessions so much that I decided to run his office and put the farmer tan behind me. So we get to spend 3 hours together on Tuesday, for which I get paid a ridiculous amount of money, talking about his rent boys, my boyfriend, Thom Gunn, my boyfriend, his getting older, my getting older, Hedy Lamarr, etc. I love my job. It also allows me to spend the rest of the week being an artist.

Last night I watched the sumptuously photographed modernist masterpiece Mademoiselle, directed by Tony Richardson(!), with a screenplay by Margueritte Duras(!!) from a story by Jean Genet(!!!). Jeanne Moreau(!!!!) stars as a schoolteacher/spinster in a small French village who lusts for an Italian lumberjack and so, because this is Genet, has to destroy him. She accidentally starts a fire by dropping her cigarette into a haystack that she’s hiding behind. After witnessing the shirtless lumberjack’s bravery in the ensuing inferno, she starts more fires–she even wears special attire (stiletto heels and fishnet gloves) to the burnings. Everything is fetishised, and because this is Genet, it’s not subtle. Sometimes a pipe IS a penis, and in this case it’s a snake(!) that the Italian wears under his shirt. It slithers out from around his waist and up Moreau’s arm… “It won’t hurt you,” he assures here. Well, she eventualy gets to find out for herself when he introduces her to his other snake as they do finally get to it, spending a passion-filled night in the woods, where she kisses his boots, barks like a dog, and has the time of her life before returning to the village, where the villagers don’t know what to make of her tattered clothes. They assume she’s been raped, and when asked “Did he do this to you?” she replies “Yes…” and rushes off into her house as the villagers rush off to beat him to death.


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