Cinemascopes: Sagittarius

November 23 – December 21

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.

Most of our Cinemascopes follow a pattern: each section ends with a shout-out to one person who exemplifies the qualities of their sign. But there are just too damn many good Sags to choose, so instead, we’re ending the piece with one big chunky list. 

You’ll float too

Emmanuel Lubezki is a Sagittarius. So are Terrence Malick and Alfonso Cuarón, two directors who have worked frequently with the cinematographer to create deeply felt, evocative, dreamy images in their films. Lubezki’s camera moves, reacts, and stays alive — but in the most delicate, floating way. Cuarón shot Roma (2018) himself, but its shots had a similar sweeping, breathtaking feel. 

Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto — whose lengthy filmography includes Brokeback Mountain (2005), Silence (2016) and The Irishman (2019) — captures a similar feeling of grace with his camera. There is a sense of poetry to the images created by these Sagittarian artists.

This season, consider how you might utilise this dreamy, intuitive energy. If your work is normally intensely fixed and structured, try letting go and making something more fluid. You might want to forego narrative entirely and try your hand at making things that are simply beautiful to apprehend — visual poems and the like.

Keep it classy

A lot of Sags have really elegant vibes (and — this is such a silly observation but I have to make it —  elegant names to match! I’d give you a list but you’re about to get one in the next section). I love vulgarity as much as the next guy, but Sags’ strength is in their dignified and delicate temperament. While some signs thrive in the lands of flashiness and good-bad taste, a Sagittarius stands out precisely for their lack of ostentation. Somehow, a Sag can show up to the party in the simplest monochrome outfit and have everyone in their orbit.

The strongest example of this cultivated, graceful, refined energy is Julianne Moore. She makes deliberate and thoughtful choices regarding the work she does and how she does it, and doesn’t have to raise her voice for you to listen. Whether you’re a writer, filmmaker, or performer, do what you can with simplicity this season. Consider a sophisticated stage or pen name if your birth one doesn’t cut it.

Proliferate

Sags are prolific in two ways — first of all, there’s just a ton of them in the film industry; second of all, each one of them is prolific in the sense that they make tons of stuff!

If you want to watch some Sagittarius-heavy films and television shows to celebrate this season, your options are seemingly endless, because Sags appear to have kind of invented cinema and have stayed at the top of their game ever since. A staggering amount of cinema ‘greats’ were born under this sign. I have to give you the whole list for you to understand just how many we’re dealing with…

Riz Ahmed, Jake Gyllenhaal, Julianne Moore, Mads Mikkelsen, Joan Didion, Chadwick Boseman, Félix Maritaud, Christina Applegate, Dacre Montgomery, Steven Yeun, Judd Nelson, Mädchen Amick, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Kenneth Williams, Elizabeth Marvel, Bruce Lee, Kimmy Robertson, Mark Frost, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michael Angarano, Alfonso Cuarón, Gloria Grahame, Colman Domingo, Terrence Malick, Emmanuel Lubezki, David Mamet, Janalle Monáe, Penelope Spheeris, Brendan Fraser, Amanda Seyfried, Jean-Luc Godard, Fred Armisen, Lynne Ramsay, Fritz Lang, Emeric Pressburger, Otto Preminger, Jeffrey Wright, Georges Méliès, John Malkovich, John Cassavetes, Lucas Hedges, Yasujirō Ozu, Steve Buscemi, Levan Akin, Sarah Paulson, Ray Liotta, Jack Fisk, Jack Nance…

…and on and on. It’s almost overwhelming! Not sure where to begin? Here are some viewing suggestions!

  • The Big Heat (1953), directed by Fritz Lang and starring Gloria Grahame — both Sags.
  • Sky High (2005), the best superhero movie ever made, helmed by the Sagittarian duo of Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Michael Angarano.
  • Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks: The Return feature a whole host of Sags, in front of and behind the camera — actors Jack Nance, Kimmy Robertson, Mädchen Amick, Caleb Landry Jones and Amanda Seyfried, as well as production designer Jack Fisk and the show’s co-creator Mark Frost. Nance and Fisk also worked together on Eraserhead (1977).
  • Catch the powerful Sag duo of Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler (2014) and The Sisters Brothers (2018), or watch Jake brood with Julianne Moore in Nocturnal Animals (2016)! Jake also stars in Brokeback Mountain (2005), which (as mentioned above!) was shot by Sag cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto.
  • Boardwalk Empire stars a bunch of Sags — Michael Kenneth Williams, Jack Huston, Jeffrey Wright and Steve Buscemi.
  • Sagittarian writer David Mamet has written countless screenplays. Joan Didion was equally prolific as a writer, though she only wrote one screenplay — The Panic in Needle Park (1971) — but it’s beautiful, and absolutely worth a watch. 
  • As mentioned earlier, Alfonso Cuarón, Emmanuel Lubezki and Terrence Malick are a Sagittarian trio that often float around each other — but it goes deeper. The Tree of Life (2011) boasts four Sagittarian credits — director Malick, DOP Lubezki, actor Brad Pitt, and production designer Jack Fisk! Lubezki and Fisk also worked together on To the Wonder (2012), The Revenant (2015), Knight of Cups (2015) and Song to Song (2017).
  • It’s not just Cuarón and Malick. Some of cinema’s most significant directors are Sags — like Lynne Ramsay, Jean-Luc Godard, Penelope Spheeris, Fritz Lang, Emeric Pressburger, Otto Preminger, Georges Méliès, John Cassavetes, and Yasujirō Ozu. Just pick one and dive in!

In closing — Sagittarius and film

I always forget that Sags are fire signs because of how grounded and sensitive they seem — see Lucas Hedges, Levan Akin, etc. They seem more like earth signs, while Capricorns seem fiery — my theory is they’ve pulled a Parent Trap on us all. But one thing we can’t deny is that the world — and especially the film world — is filled with incredible Sags. I have no recommendations for this season except to be grateful that they exist. And if you are a Sagittarius, keep doing your thing. We love you.

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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 a graduate and a dropout. Contact her at www.ivanabrehas.com.