Cinemascopes: Scorpio

October 23 – November 22

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.

Welcome to the electric, vibrant world of Scorpio season! Synaesthesia-wise, Scorpio is a sharp knife — alluring and dangerous, hot-and-scary in a Grim Reaper kind of way. They’ve earned a reputation for being intense, mysterious, and sexy. We’re going to explore that here, but we’re also going to move beyond these common ideas to discover this sign’s more lighthearted side — all with the help of cinema.

Sex sex sex

Scorpios are widely associated with sexuality, often stereotyped as the most attractive sign. Every sign rules an area of the body, and fittingly, magnetic Scorpio rules the pelvis and genitals. This is the season to explore eros in cinema — or, to quote Lil Wayne: “Now it’s fuck everybody like a Scorpio”.

The film world is filled with Scorpio hotties. Even if they’re not all established sex symbols, they’re undeniably Talented Bad Bitches, and that’s attractive in itself. Some examples:

Leonardo DiCaprio. Julia Roberts. Ryan Gosling. Thandie Newton. Matthew McConaughey. Joaquin Phoenix. Barry Jenkins AND Ashton Sanders (!). Gwendoline Christie. Ethan Hawke. Rachel McAdams. Lisa Bonet. Brittany Murphy. Stanley Tucci. David “knife goth” Castañeda. Freddy Miyares. Finn Wittrock. etc. etc. etc…

The scene in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) where Mark Hanna asks Jordan Belfort how often he masturbates and then tells him “those are rookie numbers”? You’re looking at two Scorpio actors (McConaughey, DiCaprio) under the direction of sacred-profane fanatic Martin “hot boy summer” Scorsese, who is also — you guessed it — a Scorpio.

If you’re in Melbourne, get your dose of cinematic sizzle at the Melbourne Cinémathèque’s Louise Brooks season — which begins the same day as Scorpio season! They describe the season’s first film, Pandora’s Box (1929), as a film of “smoky sensuality”, hailed by David Thomson as “among the most erotic films ever made”, and featuring a performance of “vivacious, fatal intimacy” from Louise Brooks. Yes, she was a Scorpio. 

SCORPIO INSPIRATION

Cinema heartthrob Ryan Gosling, quite possibly the industry’s Most Valuable Scorpio (for reasons to be detailed throughout this piece).

KEY QUOTE

[on his discomfort about being a ‘sex symbol’]

I know from just being a guy and looking at a billboard and you’re like, ‘That guy’s not a sex symbol. They’re trying to sell that on us? No way! That’s never gonna stick.’ And then suddenly he’s like a huge deal and you can’t believe it. I used to hate on those guys and now I am one.

Spooky scary skeletons

Scorpio season begins in October, the spookiest month of the year, and Halloween occurs pretty much midway through. It’s only natural that Scorpio energy involves obsessions with the gothic, violent, and macabre. This is, quite obviously, the time to watch Halloween movies. 

Catch Scorpio actress Kiernan Shipka being a witchy scream queen in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, or revisit the unforgettably creepy presences of Twin Peaks actors Frank Silva (BOB) and Michael J. Anderson (The Man from Another Place) — a pair of Scorpios who were both born on Halloween!

This brings us back to Most Valuable Scorpio Ryan Gosling, a true spooky season devotee who keeps his Halloween decorations up all year and released the best Halloween album ever in 2009 with his band Dead Man’s Bones. More like Ryan GOTHling.

SCORPIO INSPIRATION

The effortlessly goth Scorpio Winona Ryder, a staple of Halloween cinema — see Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992); Stranger Things; and, of course, her Tim Burton collaborations.

KEY QUOTES

Lydia [from Beetlejuice] was one of my favourite roles because I related to her a lot.

Max goof

Time to debunk a myth. Scorpios are regularly described as “mysterious”, but this is an inaccurate claim. Yes, they’re good at appearing mysterious (it’s often their aim, and the goth thing helps) but on getting to know them, most Scorpios are just normal, down-to-earth, and, in fact, incredibly goofy.

Take the elusive, media-shy Scorpio Frank Ocean. A recent profile in W Magazine describes him as an “enigmatic” artist “hiding in plain sight”, and is peppered with photos in which he obscures his face. He’s notoriously quiet on social media, too. However, when he did open his Instagram to the public, what did we find? Random shit like PornHub memes, plans for a “very gay bookshelf”, a picture of a “spider crane” (?), this weird kangaroo, and a weed-and-hair-rollers selfie. Publications marveled at the relatability. Scorpios: they’re just like us!

This season, keep in mind that mystique doesn’t have to equal boring self-seriousness. Hold on to your lightness. Be silly!

On this, let’s return once more to Ryan Gosling: the man has range. He’s hot, he’s Halloweeny, and yes, he’s hilarious. A true Scorpio goofball, his comedic timing is scene-stealing — see Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011), The Big Short (2015), and The Nice Guys (2016).

SCORPIO INSPIRATION

Mike Nichols, Scorpio and ½ of the inimitable comedy duo ‘Nichols and May’.

KEY QUOTES

I think the main thing about comedy and humour is that it’s impossible and always was impossible to define.

In closing — Scorpio and film

Let’s not forget that even the edgiest, sharpest, baddest bitches of the water signs are still water signs. Under all that intensity, Scorpios remain sensitive, soulful angels.

Really, the conclusion we’ve reached here is that Ryan Gosling is the model Scorpio. He’s got the sexy, spooky, and silly parts down — plus he’s mysterious, tough, and sensitive in Drive (2011), The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), and Only God Forgives (2013)! Let him be your inspiration this season. Watch all of his films. Listen to Dead Man’s Bones. Get a face tattoo you immediately regret.

Recommended viewing: The trailer for Everybody’s Everything (2019), the Terrence Malick-produced portrait of late musician and “goth angel sinner” Lil Peep — a morbid, sweet, sensitive (and also face-tatted!) Scorpio.

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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 www.ivanabrehas.com.

Ivana Brehas

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 is currently completing her MA in Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing at the University of Melbourne. Contact her at www.ivanabrehas.com.