Cinematic Horoscopes: Sagittarius Season
By: Daisy Stackpole
We feature twelve films each month that relate to the twelve zodiac signs, accompanied by lighthearted astrological advice.
editor’s note: Some of the films featured are linked to be viewed on filmstruck, which will only be available until november 29th. these films are still available to rent or buy from other locations.
Sagittarius (November 23-December 21): My Brilliant Career (1979) directed by Gillian Armstrong
Sagittarius, you are a unique breed with a skill set that has the potential to take you very far in life. Not only are you a boundless dreamer, but you contain the ambition, confidence, and chutzpah to chase after your dreams in a realistic way. More often than not, Sagittarius, you are the only thing standing in the way of getting everything you want; either due to your unwillingness to commit, or you simply haven’t thought big enough and are holding yourself back. Since we are now in your glorious season, there is no better time to inspire yourself to reach your full potential and create a plan to achieve everything you set your sights on. One piece of inspiration you might find useful is Gillian Armstrong’s beautiful film My Brilliant Career, an Australian film starring the incomparable and electric Judy Davis as Sybylla, a young woman maturing in 19th-Century Australia. Though the world around Sybylla is somewhat dismal and small, she has visions of grandeur and believes she is destined to be a great writer with an exciting, jet-setting life. Believing she is delusional, her parents send Sybylla away to live with her wealthy grandmother (Aileen Britton), in the hopes that she will calm down and return to the family farm with etiquette and sensibility. While at her grandmother, Sybylla is courted by several young men, some whom she enjoys and others who she does not entertain. Most notable of all the suitors is childhood friend Harry (Sam Neill), who Sybylla crushes very hard on, but must decide if she wants to let him get in the way of pursuing her writing career. My dear Sags, I hope you take some time out of your busy lives of creating, traveling, and ghosting your friends to watch this lovely movie and think about your own life. If Sybylla can imagine an exciting life for herself while living on a farm in isolated Australia, what’s stopping you? Are you afraid of the freedom you so desperately crave? What steps can you take to reach the next goal you set for yourself? Enjoy your birthdays, Sag Squad, and never forget who you are and where you’re going.
capricorn (december 22 - January 20): the green ray (1986) directed by eric rohmer
Since beginning writing these cinematic horoscopes, I’ve made a concerted effort to pay extra close attention to any and all mentions of astrology in film. Let me tell you, I am let down regularly! Where are my astrology nerd filmmakers? Anyway, when a friend recommended I watch Rohmer’s The Green Ray, I wasn’t really expecting any astrology references, but lo and behold, to my immense delight, the film’s protagonist, Delphine (Marie Riviere), is a Capricorn! It’s not just that she’s a Capricorn, either; this fact is routinely cited as the reason behind Delphine’s strange behavior, failed relationships, and general state of isolation and malaise by herself and her friends. Backing up a bit, The Green Ray is an incredible film. It’s everything you want from a Rohmer film: incredible clothes, intimate conversations that feel like you could be having them with your own pals, introspection and rumination on life, love, and happiness, and French people who possess as much ennui as they do sex appeal. Delphine, recovering from a heavy break-up, wants to feel normal again and perhaps even date again, but she seems to keep getting in her own way, shutting out friends and closing herself off to new opportunities and relationships. She believes a vacation will be the key to unlocking her poor mental state, but she has trouble finding a friend to accompany her, and refuses to travel alone. Delphine ends up going on a series of trips, each one making her uncomfortable and restless in a new way. Capricorns, I encourage you to watch this film with an open mind, and to assess the ways in which you do and don’t relate to Delphine’s behavior and choices. I’m pretty sure the rest of her chart is less than stellar, but she does display some classic Capricorn moves, and this film provides a beautiful moment for retrospection. Allow yourself to observe your own choices, and examine if those choices are bringing you joy or sorrow.
Aquarius (january 20 - february 18): A Zed and two noughts (1985) directed by peter greenaway
Aquarius, I appreciate you more and more each month because I get to give you my strangest picks without having to worry about scaring you away. This month is no exception, and I present to you one of my favorite films by who I have called on more than one occasion my favorite filmmaker, Peter Greenaway. A Zed and Two Noughts (Zoo) is almost too complicated to explain; truly a spectacle to behold, but I will do my best. Twin zoologists lose their twin wives in an automobile accident caused by a swan (in true Greenaway comedic form, the woman driving the car is named Bewick.) From here, the brothers begin a downward spiral into depression and despair; they become fixated on death and decay, photographing decomposing food and animals and surrounding themselves with insects and other creatures. Meanwhile, we are also introduced to Venus de Milo (the incredible Frances Barber), a sex worker and storyteller with a penchant for knowing exactly how much famous authors were paid for their works. Venus believes she can help the brothers through their mourning periods and attempts to seduce them. We also keep track of Alba Bewick (Andrea Ferreal), the driver of the car, who is forced to amputate a leg following the accident. I think those are enough delightfully bizarre tidbits to satisfy any Aquarian, but please know this film checks off every box on the Greenaway list: hilarious and irreverent dialogue, impeccable production design, visual homages to Baroque and Renaissance paintings, sex galore, and larger than life, unforgettable characters. If these things don’t entice you, Aquarius, I don’t know what will! This month, just relax and enjoy the ride, my Aquarius friends! No homework for you, but as always, use your unparalleled intellect to draw any conclusions you please.
pisces (february 18-March 20): eve’s bayou (1997) directed by kasi lemmons
Pisces, you are one of the best peacekeepers of the zodiac. You are naturally incredibly intuitive and have an instinctual ability to heal those around you. As long as you protect your own soul and emotions during the healing of others, this is an incredibly powerful gift. However, sometimes in our quest to help others, we endanger ourselves and end up complicating matters for all parties involved. This month, Pisces, I offer you a cautionary tale in the form of Kasi Lemmons beautiful directorial debut, Eve’s Bayou. Eve (Jurnee Smollett) is a 10-year-old girl who lives with her picture-perfect family in an idyllic Louisiana community. One day, Eve discovers that things may not be as perfect as they appear when she finds her father (Samuel L. Jackson) ostensibly philandering on her mother (Lynn Whitfield) with family friend Matty Mereaux (Lisa Nicole Carson). Now, Eve is faced with a difficult decision to harbor this secret and protect her father, while keeping her family together, or telling the truth and hurting her mother, possibly destroying her family and life as she knows it. To escape the chaos she is unequipped to manage, Eve seeks refuge with her psychic Aunt and her friend, Elzora (Diahann Carroll), a fortune teller and voodoo witch. These women attempt to guide Eve in the right direction and help her to realize her own psychic gifts, but in the process, might do more harm than good. Pisces, as you take in this lovely film, I encourage you to do two things. 1. Consider your own intuition and psychic abilities. If you’ve never explored this side of yourself, perhaps it’s time to break out the tarot cards or schedule an appointment with a spiritual advisor who can help you awaken these gifts. Water signs tend to be the most psychically connected signs, and Pisces often have the strongest intuition. 2. As healers and deeply empathetic people, you give away a lot of energy. Often, you do not get this energy back and are left feeling empty. Take time to take stock of the relationships in your life, and try to pinpoint the energetic vampires in your midst. It is not anyone’s fault if they cannot match your depth, Pisces, but it does serve you to surround yourself with people who can match the love and energy you have to give.
aries (March 20 - april 20): Wings (1966) directed by larisa sheptiko
Aries, I know and you know that you are the ambitious boss bitches of the zodiac. Once you reach a goal, it’s on to the next one; barely taking time to appreciate the work it’s taken to get there. You are competitive, but unlike other signs (cough, Taurus, cough), your toughest competition and toughest critic is often yourself. While your ambition is certain to take you far in life, it also has the potential to prevent you from enjoying life if you are always looking for your next accomplishment. The film I’ve chosen for your this month is Wings, a stunning debut from Ukrainian director Larisa Sheptiko. Tragically, Sheptiko died young in a car accident, and left behind a legacy of four beautifully crafted, highly technical films. Wings is the story of Nadezhda Petrukhina (played by the incredible Maya Bulgakova, who had previously been known as a character actress, and not a leading lady) a middle-aged woman who was once a Soviet fighter pilot, but now works as the principal of a trade school. To many people, Nadezhda’s life seems full and satisfying - she has a job, she is respected by all, she has a family and plenty of close friends, but she is deeply unfulfilled. Without the glory and the excitement of being a fighter pilot, Nadezhda is depressed and bored with her ‘normal’ life and career. This film is an incredibly touching rumination on a woman’s interior life and internal dialogue that is so honest and bold, I haven’t seen many films that rival its authenticity in the decades since. Aries, I hope you will use this meditative film as a mirror for your own life and career. While I am not suggesting that you settle for an unfulfilling career, I am suggesting that you pause and truly examine your accomplishments thus far. Ask yourself why and for whom you push yourself so hard, and consider if you might derive more contentment from slowing down and appreciating the work you’ve already done.
taurus (april 20 - may 21): the kindergarten teacher (2018) directed by sara colangelo
Taurus, taurus, taurus, your stubbornness is something I want to work out like a masseuse working out a tight knot in your back. I know I have harped on this before, but I think I’ve chosen a film that will really drive home the message that you need to chill with the stubbornness a bit. The cautionary tale I’ve chosen for you is the frankly brazen film The Kindergarten Teacher, a new film by Sara Calangelo based on an Israeli film by the same name. The film stars the always-fun-to-watch Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lisa Spinelli, a middle-aged teacher with a fairly average life - a content but banal marriage, bratty teenage kids, and a house in the suburbs. It is clear that Spinelli imagined more for herself; we see in her physicality and mannerisms that she was likely a bohemian at some point, and eventually conformed when that didn’t work out. Lisa takes poetry classes instructed by a very sexy teacher, Simon (Gael Garcia Bernal), whom Lisa wants to impress, but her poetry is routinely dismissed as derivative and lacking soul. At the end of one school day, Lisa awaits for her student Jimmy (Parker Sevak) to be picked up by his babysitter, and to Lisa’s surprise, Jimmy begins reciting beautiful poetry to pass the time. Lisa is stunned by the depth and emotion present in the poetry of a six-year-old and immediately goes into overdrive attempting to convince Jimmy’s babysitter and father that he has a special gift and needs to be nurtured as a poet and artist. As Jimmy’s father rejects Lisa’s advice and begs her to leave his son alone and let him live a normal life, Lisa doubles down, first submitting Jimmy’s poetry to her class as her own, then low-key kidnapping Jimmy to make him perform at a poetry reading in Manhattan. From here, things go truly apeshit and Lisa endangers her own wellbeing in addition to Jimmy’s. Taurus, use this film as an opportunity to examine where you are being too stubborn in your life, especially the instances that involve being stubborn about other people. Use Lisa’s downward spiral as a bad example of what can happen when we can’t let people live their own lives. Remember that we can only control ourselves in this world, and it’s best to treat ourselves with gentleness and kindness.
gemini (may 21 - june 21): cam (2018) directed by daniel goldhaber
Gemini, with the sometimes harmful trope floating around that Geminis are two-faced and erratic, one could easily develop a complex and fear around ‘losing yourself’. This is a fear I believe many people have, but I think it effects people like Geminis even more. Luckily, there’s a new film that addresses this fear in the context of the Internet Age brilliantly, Cam, a psychological horror film that is the feature debut of director Daniel Goldhaber and writer Isa Mazzei, who was inspired to write the film after her own experiences as a cam girl. Madeline Brewer gracefully carries the film as Alice, a young woman who has a successful career as a sex worker camming online. Alice’s internet persona, Lola, is confident, funny, sexy, and theatrical, to the point of incorporating fake suicides into her shows to increase views. As Alice climbs the ranks on her cam website, something almost supernatural happens; one day she finds herself locked out of her account, but a doppleganger has replaced her on the cam website, and is maybe better at camming than she is. Alice obviously freaks out and must go to great lengths to get herself back, and that’s where I’ll leave it so you can fully enjoy this wild ride. Cam is a special film for a lot of reasons - its treatment of sex workers as complex humans is one of the best things I’ve witnessed in a minute, the production design, in particular of Lola’s sets, is a visual feast, and the psychological horror feels real in our world of social media and online illusion and facade. Gemini, I hope you can use this film as a healing tool, one to remind yourself of who you are. Though you are deep and dimensional, you are neither dangerously amorphous nor replicable. No one can take away your wit, sparkling personality, and intellect, no matter how tempting, Gemini.
cancer (june 21 - july 22): ma (2015) directed by celia rowlson-hall
Cancer, I know by now you might be getting a little tired of the motherhood thread I’ve woven through your recommendation, but I can guarantee this month’s motherhood story is as singular as possible, and will thoroughly entice you emotionally and visually. The first feature from visionary director, dancer, and choreographer Celia Rowlson-Hall, Ma is a reimagining of the nativity story, following a virgin mother on a trek through the desert to Las Vegas, where she will birth our savior. Did I mention it’s a silent film? Ma is entirely dialogue-free, relying instead on an incredibly emotive and tender performance from Rowlson-Hall as the mother, as well as rich performances from the rest of the cast, imaginative sequences of dance and movement, and clever use of music and sound. This film is a reminder that in the grand scheme of things, dialogue and narrative is really secondary to thoughtful visuals and interesting characters and characterization. As the young mother traverses the austere desert landscape and encounters other lost souls, bad men, and a few friendly faces, we are reminded of the power of motherhood and the strength it requires to care for someone else. In terms of filmmaking, I cannot wait to see what Rowlson-Hall does next, and I encourage all signs to watch her repertoire on Filmstruck before it’s gone. For Cancers, I want you to use this film to remind yourself of your own strength and power. I think Cancers often get the reputation of being weak or crybabies, but in reality, being in touch with your emotions and doing emotional labor for others is a sign of your might. People might underestimate you, Cancer, but it will be their mistake.
leo (july 22 - august 23): Bessie (2015) directed by dee rees
Leo, in your quest for love and adoration, you might conflate applause with success, and forget that many people struggle greatly along the path to greatness. One such individual was Bessie Smith, a legendary blues singer from Tennessee. A queer Black woman often overlooked in musical history, Dee Rees chose to make a biopic of Smith’s life in this month’s recommendation, Bessie. Queen Latifah stars in this film as Bessie Smith, who began singing at a young age and was orphaned as a child, left to the care of her strict eldest sibling, Viola (Khandi Alexander). Bessie is determined to escape poverty and her sister’s rule, so she and her brother begin performing in vaudeville shows. The climb to fame and fortune is slow and tumultuous for Bessie, along the way she is barred from performing due to colorism, she is rejected from multiple record labels, and she is abused by Jack Gee (Michael K. Williams), a bodyguard who goes on to be her husband/manager. During these hard times, Bessie also explores her sexuality, dating a beautiful woman named Lucille (Tika Sumpter), but sadly realizing the relationship can’t go anywhere due to time and circumstance. Throughout Bessie’s many trials and tribulations, she upholds her artistry, dignity, and sense of self because she believes in her gifts and her work and will not let anyone get in the way of her self-expression. Leo, use this film to reflect on your own work-oriented goals. Are you happy with fleeting praise, or are you in it for the long haul? Take stock of your desires and take note of how you’re getting there.
virgo (august 22 - september 23): Certain women (2016) directed by kelly reichardt
Virgo, you know better than anyone that there is nothing more frustrating than the deep desire for control to be ignored by those around you. Most women can relate to the feeling of wanting and deserving control - over themselves, a job, their space, their money, only to be overruled by a man who feels he is more worthy of said control. Certain Women, a slow burn of a film in true Reichardt fashion examines this unfortunate phenomenon through a beautiful and sympathetic lens. The film is broken down into three stories featuring four women: a lawyer, Laura (Laura Dern), dealing with an erratic and potentially dangerous client that won’t heed her advice, Gina (Michelle Williams), a wife and mother who feels undermined and unappreciated by her husband and daughter, Beth (Kristen Stewart), a young lawyer teaching community classes on law, and Jamie (Lily Gladstone), an isolated ranch hand in desperate need of company. Each of these women want something, they each have a single desire at the front of their minds they believe will liberate them from their unhappiness and dissatisfaction. What all women fail to realize is that seeking for control and validation in relationships will always leave you feeling empty because we can only control ourselves. Virgo, this month please take time for self-care, whatever that means to you. If you are feeling lonely, like the women of Certain Women, sit in that loneliness like a bath. Allow yourself to feel all that you feel, as Virgos notoriously hide from their emotions. Until you are happy with yourself and can be your own best friend, no relationship or amount of control will fulfill you in any lasting way.
libra (september 23 - october 23): the headless woman (2008) directed by lucrecia martel
Libra, I saw this film for the first time at our festival, FFFest, and was honestly shook at how much it spoke to me, specifically to my Libra moon. This Argentinian film by auteur Lucrecia Martel, known for capturing devastatingly real performances and her clever sound design, is about a well-to-do, middle-aged bottle blonde, Vero (the fascinating Maria Onetto), who gets into a car accident. Vero knows she hits something, but she doesn’t get out of her car to see what she hit, with the dust of the road obscuring her vision, she drives home. Slightly concussed and confused for the rest of the film, she becomes increasingly concerned that she hit a person, instead of a dog, like she originally believed. The men around her gaslight her, assuring her that she only hit a dog, confusing her further and bringing her on the cusp of a mental breakdown. Libra, the reason I selected this film for you and the reason I believe it resonated with me, is that Libras can have a tendency to act like everything is ok when below the surface we are losing our goddamn minds. In our lifelong quest to be liked and to please everyone, we often ignore our suspicions and intuition for fear of shaking things up. Though Libras desperately seek peace and justice, Libra is willing to self-sacrifice their own peace of mind to secure it for others. This month, Libra, I urge you to watch this film and ask yourself if there are any dark emotions you’ve been hiding for the benefit of everyone else. Know that everyone will still love you even you have a bad day, week, or month, and that it’s ok to struggle sometimes. Allow yourself a day or even a week if you’re feeling brave where you don’t act as peacekeeper, and see how you feel.
scorpio (october 23 - november 22): The Umbrellas of cherbourg (1964) directed by jacques demy
Hi Scorp Squad! I don’t know about you, but Scorpio season went way too fast for me this year, and I’m feeling a little blue about it. Especially when so many people have the audacity to slander Scorpios during our time! As if they don’t know how fierce we are! One Scorpio stereotype that has always bothered me is that we’re uncaring and noncommittal, but you and I both know that when we finally let someone in past our tough exoskeleton, we do not let go. I think Scorpios are actually one of the most loyal signs, and a friend that you always want in your corner. In relationships, Scorpios will champion their partner, even putting their partner’s needs above their own. We are kind of scary, but we’re really a bunch of emo kids who just want to be loved deeply. Moving away from the moody films I usually choose for Scorpio, this month I thought a nice post-Scorpio-season hangover cure would be Jacques Demy’s technicolor musical, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. This film is the definition of charming, a French musical starring Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo as Genevieve and Guy, an impossibly attractive young couple desperate to be wed, despite the wishes of Genevieve’s mother, Madame Emery (Anne Vernon). While the film begins with bubblegum, Pollyanna tone, it quickly darkens as Guy is drafted into the war. Upon this news, the lovers have sex, ostensibly for the first time, and once Guy has left for service, it’s discovered that Genevieve is pregnant. When Genevieve writes to Guy, his replies are lackluster and infrequent and her mother urges her to get over him and find someone else. Genevieve, now heartbroken, alone, and pregnant at age 17 must make very difficult, very adult decisions concerning her future. Above all, Scorpios will relate to the intense betrayal Genevieve feels after she has let someone into the deepest parts of her soul; someone she thought she would be with forever. No homework this month, Scorpios, just cozy up with this film and allow yourself to feel as mushy and sensitive as I know we all do!