Cinemascopes: Capricorn

December 21 – January 19

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.

It’s Capricorn season, and time for our final earth sign Cinemascope! Throughout film and TV history, Capricorns have well and truly been the GOATs, from old school legends like John Carpenter, Rod Serling, Humphrey Bogart, Sissy Spacek and Robert Duvall to modern-day icons Denzel Washington, Ted Danson, Song Kang-Ho and Todd Haynes.

Appropriately, the symbol of Capricorn is the goat (the sea-goat actually, but what the fuck is that) — an animal capable of scaling steep cliffs. Unsurprisingly, this is a very resilient sign. Take Capricorn Jonas Mekas, who spent about 30 years filming and filming and filming his days, then laboriously editing them together, to make his beautiful 4-hour diary film As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses Of Beauty (2000).

Such a daunting task is a Capricorn’s dream. They love scaling the biggest cliffs — J.R.R. Tolkien writes long-ass high-fantasy epics, Sergio Leone made a 210-minute film with Once Upon A Time in America (1984), and all animated films by Hayao Miyazaki are hand-drawn (although such a process “is both repetitive and extremely laborious … Hayao Miyazaki believes that hand drawing is [fundamental to] animation”). There’s a lot we can learn from the devotion of these Capricorns.

Work it

Capricorns are notoriously pragmatic and dedicated to their goals. Their fellow earth signs, practical Taurus and organised Virgo, are hard workers too, but Capricorns — especially Capricorn artists! — are the ones who really, seriously, love the work they do. Like, it brings them pleasure to do it.

Take Capricorn filmmaker David Lynch. He’s far from a horrible, bossy autocrat — he’s super nice! — but he’s a hard worker. To quote him: “There are only 24 hours in a day, and my top priority is working on my films.” Even his commitment to Transcendental Meditation is a form of discipline. And, in true Capricorn style, he genuinely loves doing the work. To quote him again: “What I really like is to be at home working.” He didn’t just give the go-ahead for Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) — he himself committed to the labour of directing all 18 wild and groundbreaking episodes. Because he loves it. In case that wasn’t clear, here’s another quote: “I like to make movies. I like to work. I don’t really like to go out.”

(Note: David Lynch is very close to the cusp, brushing up against the oddball energy of Aquarius — maybe we have this to thank for the weirdness of his work.)

Does this mean turn into an evil career-obsessed capitalist? Big no. Don’t be ‘bossy’, necessarily — just get shit done. We’re not talking mindless labour-for-profit here; we’re talking passion. Find the thing you love to do and put your heart into it. As wildly prolific Capricorn Steven Soderbergh once said: “A success, to me, is the ability to keep working… It has nothing to do with money; it’s the ability to keep getting things made, period.”

CAPRICORN INSPIRATION

Capricorn Legend Thelma Schoonmaker, the assiduous editor of innumerable great films.

KEY QUOTE

“I never thought I’d get married — I’m such a workaholic.”

2 Busy 4 Love

That Thelma quote brings us into our next point. Every Cap is already married — to themselves, and to their work. Don’t get it twisted — there’s no ego involved, just self-love and commitment. They know they’re on a perpetual journey of personal growth that requires a lot of focus and nurturing, so bringing anyone else into their lives is something that requires deep deliberation on their part. They will not waste their time and absolutely will not suffer fools.

Reader, I have a Capricorn Venus. I can attest to this myself. Your Venus affects how you deal with love and relationships, so in my case, I handle affairs of the heart like a Capricorn. As one Tweet put it: “oh you love capricorn venus? name three times they flaked during the talking stage because they realised they were already married to their goals”. THAT’S Capricorn energy! I’ve got things I want to do, and my Cap Venus doesn’t see the logic in middling relationships that interfere with my plans and personal growth.

As mentioned above, work is a lifelong passion for David Lynch. He makes this clear in his book Room to Dream  — it’s suggested, even, to be a reason for breakdowns of some of his romantic relationships. It’s not that he’s not loving, it’s just that he’s busy — always driven to do more. In a Guardian interview, he explains that as an artist “You gotta be selfish. And it’s a terrible thing.” Had he not been married or had kids, he laments, “There could have been more work done. There are always so many interruptions.”

Whether you have Capricorn in your chart or not, consider how you can emulate film-world Capricorns this season. Don’t distract yourself from the things you want to do. Make that big passion project of yours. Get a divorce! Get 5 divorces! Who cares! You’re stuck with you forever, so allow yourself to focus on your own journey this season.

CAPRICORN INSPIRATION

Eartha Kitt, the literal epitome of independence and drive.

KEY QUOTE

Interviewer: Are you willing to compromise in a relationship?

Eartha Kitt: Compromise? What is compromising? Compromising for what? Compromising for what reason? To compromise. For what! What is compromise?

Interviewer: If a man came into your life, wouldn’t you want to compromise?

Eartha Kitt: [laughs hysterically, incredulous] Stupid.

Fashion is a full-time job

With their close proximity to Scorpio, Capricorns retain some of that same scary glamour. In the book Astro Poets, poet-astrologer Dorothea Lasky compares Capricorns to peacocks — their iridescent feathers are gorgeous, but also designed to scare away predators. Think, again, of Eartha Kitt, or of Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich, and Donna Summer — all very intense, very stylish Capricorns. Not ones for an understated look.

And it’s not just the ladies! Timothée Chalamet, Finn Wolfhard, and Robert Sheehan — a trio of good-haired Capricorns — are all experts at pulling off the kind of offbeat, idiosyncratic, excellent fashion choices that their sign bestows. Take Chalamet’s all-grey, silky belted suit with cuffed pants (!) at the Venice Film Festival, Wolfhard’s straightened mullet thing (with a tunic?!), or literally any genderfluid-pirate look from Sheehan but especially this mesh top/patterned skirt combo. I rest my case.

Then there are Capricorns whose stylistic idiosyncrasies are primarily expressed not through fashion, but through film itself: Gaspar Noé and Harmony Korine are prime examples. Whether you’re watching The Beach Bum (2019) or researching Capricorn red carpet looks, bold style is the word of the day.

CAPRICORN INSPIRATION

Dolly Parton, never one to shy away from an over-the-top look — and always doing those looks for herself first and foremost.

KEY QUOTE

“A lot of people have said I’d have probably done better in my career if I hadn’t looked so cheap and gaudy. But I dress to be comfortable for me, and you shouldn’t be blamed because you want to look pretty.”

In closing — Capricorn and film

There are still so many more Capricorns we could discuss, from Shonda Rhimes (“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard”) to J.K. Simmons (remember in Whiplash [2014] when he encouraged a drummer to devote himself to his artistic passion at the expense of everything else in his life?) — but perhaps one of the most incredible Capricorns in the industry is Julia Louis-Dreyfus. 

She’s been described as “only slightly” less work-obsessed than her Veep character Selina, and kept going to work even after she was diagnosed with cancer. But I don’t mean to paint this in a negative, Whiplash-y light — the way she talks about it, she wasn’t overworking herself, she was finding joy. She told Vanity Fairit was a distraction from the prior year, which had been so harrowing… To put blinders on and just focus on making the funniest fucking show possible was a great relief.” 

Like any good Capricorn, she was driven by a genuine love for the work. If there is any lesson to take from this season, let it be that love. There is probably something in your life which brings you so much joy, you don’t even think of it as work. And you’re good at it. And importantly, the results of this work aren’t just for you. It’s something you can share with others. Maybe it’s a film or an essay or a batch of cookies. It doesn’t matter, as long as you love doing it. As Julia Louis-Dreyfus said to ET, “To be creative for a living, to make people laugh or cry, is a fucking gift. I love it and I love hard work to that end.

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Ivana Brehas 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.