Cinemascopes: Cancer

June 21 – July 23

CINEMASCOPES (cinema + horoscopes) approaches film through an astrological lens, and vice versa. Published in seasonal instalments, the series explores how astrology can be made intelligible through film, and considers how the energy of each astrological season might be applied to how we watch and make films.

Been feeling emotional lately? It may have something to do with the commencement of crybaby — sorry, I mean Cancer — season (said with love from an equally weepy Pisces!). Cancerians are sweet, nurturing, sensitive beauty queens, and our first water sign of the year.

According to Rough Cut’s Cancerian staff writer André Shannon: “Cancers are mega creative, emotionally manipulative, extremely deep feeling, BFF oriented, love their moms, and have extreme social habits but are also usually the most interesting person in the room no offence 😘”.  I haven’t met any emotionally manipulative Cancers, but I co-sign the rest of this (also they can be pretty stubborn).

Personally, I celebrated the start of Cancer season by being on my period. But outside of a moon-synchronised red tide wreaking havoc on your emotional state, how can you channel Cancerian energy? More importantly, how can you make it… cinematic?

Watery weirdness

Being water signs, Cancerians can get a little weird and experimental — water loves fluidity, irrationality, surrealism, the subconscious, blah blah blah. Case in point: avant-garde filmmaker Jean Cocteau was a Cancer! Watch his amazing 1930 film The Blood of a Poet for a little of this experimental, dreamlike, water-sign artistic irrationality.


Legendary young weirdo Jaden Smith. Read his tweets to get into the weird, deep, confusing, emotional zone of the season — I’m a fan of “The Biggest Flex Anyone Will Ever Have Is Dying”. Or watch him being a sulky, moody, elegant man about town in Netflix’s Neo Yokio.


“Just Stare In The Mirror And Cry And You’ll Be Good.”

Can’t spell “the moon” without “emo”

Cancer is ruled by the moon, connecting this water sign to the idea of tides, mood swings, and shifting emotional states. Watch Night Tide (1961), a film about a mermaid — a watery woman ruled by the moon — to tap into this energy. There’s a very dreamy, Lana del Rey vibe about it, and a restored version is up on Nicolas Winding Refn’s streaming website right now!


BROCKHAMPTON founder Kevin Abstract is a Cancer, and out of all the Cancerian filmmakers I know, he comes the most highly recommended from me as someone worth studying and learning from. He recently did an interview with GQ that gets into a lot of beautiful things about vulnerability, art-making, emotions, therapy — typical water sign stuff. Read it. Watch his music videos. Channel his honesty, empathy, and drive.


“I need to be loved. I need to love.”


Cancer is also considered to be the “motherly” sign — comforting, affectionate, strong, and nurturing. Watch Lana del Rey’s ‘Love’ music video for some of this heartfelt Cancerian energy. (There’s a big fucking moon in the video, too — how anyone ever thought she was a Gemini is beyond me.)

It’s subjective, but everyone feels “#MOM” about someone. For your consideration, here are some other strong and beautiful Cancerian women: Sandra Oh, Meryl Streep, Edie Falco, Molly Parker, Kathryn Hahn, Priyanka Chopra, Kristen Bell, Busy Philipps, Linda Cardellini, Margot Robbie, and Frances McDormand. 

But this sign’s nurturing, comforting energy transcends gender, so I’d also like to mention some sweet Cancerian men: Robin Williams, Tom Hanks (“America’s Dad”), Willem Dafoe (cusp, controversial), Paul Thomas Anderson(!), Danny Glover, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Recommended viewing: Anything where these people play mothers (Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia! Frances McDormand in Fargo! Edie Falco in The Sopranos! Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn in Bad Moms!), or any PTA/Philip Seymour Hoffman collaboration.

In closing — Cancer and film

My suggestions for this season are pretty simple: allow yourself to be emotional and sensitive. Spend some time watching movies that make you feel warm inside. Or if you’re a filmmaker, try and make things that have that effect on others. Be kind to everyone you work with. Make sure they’re taken care of. Ask if they’ve eaten. Look at the moon. Visit the sea. Keep going.


Ivana Brehas (a.k.a. Joaquin Shenix) is a writer and filmmaker living in Naarm (Melbourne). She has written for Dazed, Much Ado About Cinema, The Big Issue, 4:3 and more. She also makes lil videos. Contact her at

Ivana Brehas

Ivana Brehas (a.k.a. Joaquin Shenix) is a writer and filmmaker living on Wathaurong land. She is a co-founder of Rough Cut, and has written for Dazed, Kill Your Darlings, Senses of Cinema, The Big Issue, 4:3 and more. She is a graduate and a dropout. Contact her at