Cinescopes – Gemini: Five Films to Maximize Your Astro Vibes

Welcome to Cinescopes, a monthly column about astrology and the movies. Things always tend to get a little weirder during Gemini season, and… well, things have already BEEN weird. We were already stir crazy and in desperate search of new stimuli! Restless and inquisitive, communicative and provocative, and above all endlessly entertaining, Gemini energy is a far cry from the sturdy, some-might-say stubborn sensuality of its predecessor Taurus. So buckle up, buttercups! It’ll be a month for asking lots of questions, feeling pulled in opposing directions, and exploring our connections. Here are five films that, in my mind, really capture the spirit of this year’s Gemini season.

 

Three Identical Strangers (2018) dir. Tim Wardle

 

Gemini is a seeking sign that loves reportage, investigation, and a good story with lots of twists and turns. So obviously, this season is freakishly friendly to the documentary form. And yes, I’m aware that the Gemini symbol is twins and not triplets. Bear with me!

Gemini energy is nothing if not questioning, and perhaps no question hits closer to the heart of the human condition than “what makes me me, and you, you?” Curiosity can be a beautiful means for stepping outside oneself, but it can also come at a hefty price, especially when human lives are hanging in the balance. Three Identical Strangers, the incredible story of triplets unknowingly separated at birth only to reunite as young adults, is simultaneously a fascinating case study of nature versus nurture and a searing indictment of those who attempted to dictate these womb-mates’ fates.

Three Identical Strangers is available on Hulu, Vudu, YouTube, and Amazon Prime.

Honorable mention for questionable twinning (and dubious medical ethics) this Gemini season: Dead Ringers (1988) dir. David Cronenberg, available on Tubi, YouTube, Vudu, and Amazon Prime.

 

 

Us (2019) dir. Jordan Peele

 

So much of our anxiety around clones, doubles, and doppelgängers stems from a gnawing fear that there’s somehow a more “real” version of us out there — that we’re in fact the copy, and not the original. Jordan Peele’s terrifying follow-up to Get Out is a film that really, uh, pitches a tent in that feeling.

Gemini is all about integration, and in Us, dualities and polarities abound: The smile and the grimace, the past and the present, pop culture and social commentary, the surface and the beneath. What is a house of mirrors, after all, if not a confrontation with one’s many previously-unrealized potentialities, all unfolding at once? Teeming with visual clues and cinematic references, Peele’s tour de force tears along with at-times maniacal virtuosity, ultimately forcing the audience to confront and reconcile its own metaphorical reflection. In true Gemini fashion Us is ultimately a concept piece that leaves us with more questions than answers. Right? It’s not just me, right?

Us is available on Hulu, HBO Now, Vudu, YouTube, and Amazon Prime.

Honorable mention for going doppelgäng-busters this Gemini season: Cam (2018) dir. Daniel Goldhaber and Isa Mazzei, available on Netflix.

 

 

Searching (2018) dir. Aneesh Chaganty

 

When we reconstruct ourselves through the evidence left by our digital lives, isn’t that electronic imprint also in a way our double? How well do we really know the people closest to us, and what is the limit of what someone’s online trail can tell us about their interiority?

Gemini’s planetary ruler is Mercury the messenger god, and we associate its position in our birth charts with all forms of communication. That’s why, when Mercury infamously retrogrades, hard drives allegedly erase themselves and emails and text messages get lost in the ether. Whether or not “retrograde panic” is a productive impulse is a conversation for another time, but the fact remains that Gemini energy is obsessed with the nuts and bolts of making meaning. A “desktop” feature like Searching is a perfect way to cinematically scratch that inquisitive itch. As a desperate father (John Cho) scours his daughter’s laptop for clues to her mysterious and sudden disappearance, the comforting narrative he has formed about her rapidly unravels, leaving him to chase down the strands in his quest for the truth. The whole movie takes place on a screen within a screen, showing us all the ways that information and communication can be expressed, organized, hidden, and subsequently revealed. And yes, there’s a twist. When it’s Gemini season, there’s always a twist!

Searching is available on Hulu, Sling TV, Vudu, YouTube, and Amazon Prime.

Honorable mention for a communication-based thriller this Gemini season: Unfriended (2014) dir. Leo Gabriadze, available on Hulu, HBO Now, HBO Go, Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and iTunes.

 

 

Ruby Sparks (2012) dir. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

 

Mercury, that quicksilver-tongue psychopomp, is a tricky one — and likewise, Geminis can be hard to pin down. Desire, when fulfilled completely, no longer offers the same pleasure. A creator with ultimate power becomes a destroyer.

All air signs traffic in the economy of ideas, and Geminis especially love parsing a polarizing premise, just for funsies. As a fractured fairy tale about a flailing young author and the magic pixie dream girl he manages to write into material existence, Ruby Sparks certainly fits that bill. It’s more than meets the eye: a little bit sweet and romantic, but also deeply creepy, and definitely as discomfiting as it is whimsical. That’s a Gemini’s favorite kind of mess.

But wait! The layering continues: Ruby is the brainchild of Zoe Kazan, who plays her in the movie and also wrote the screenplay. Paul Dano, who plays her modern-age Pygmalion, is her real-life partner. It’s all so deliciously twisted!

Ruby Sparks is available on Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and iTunes.

Honorable mention for a devilishly dark skewering of archetype, also written by its star: The Love Witch (2016) dir. Anna Biller, available on Sling TV, Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and iTunes.

 

 

10 Things I Hate About You (1999) dir. Gil Junger

“I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be…whelmed?” — A Gemini, probably

To cleanse our collective palates and leave us on a lighter note than the rest of this collection might, on a whole, suggest, I’m pulling out this “new classic” as a nod to this season’s more winsome and wacky ways. With an all-star cast and riot-grrrl-tinged soundtrack, this adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (set in 1990s Seattle, no less) is the perfect way to indulge in a little harmless nostalgia and undeniably clever comedy. Some movies in the rom-com genre privilege aesthetics, like the Libra-licious Clueless, and some, like The Notebook, prefer pure Cancerian emotion, but 10 Things I Hate About You is a fast-paced and audacious play on the fixed nature of identity, and a celebration of the polarities that make opposites attract. In other words, it’s a Gemini movie through-and-through.

If water signs are the dreamers of the zodiac, then air signs are the schemers, and 10 Things I Hate About You is positively bursting at the seams with schemes. In this cinematic universe, mutability reigns, wit and wiles are welcomed, and even the dubious school guidance counselor (Ms. Perky) is a secret novelist! The Gemini vibes are simply off-the-charts in this one, and unlike some of the other movies on this list, it won’t keep you up at night. Hey, all right!

10 Things I Hate About You is available on Disney+, Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and iTunes.

Honorable mention for a marvelously Mercurial “throwback” romantic comedy this Gemini season: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) dir. Donald Petrie, available on Hulu, Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and iTunes.

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Hannah Piper Burns (she/her) is an extramundane anthropologist of her culture's phenomena, detritus, kitsch, and trauma who works in time-based art, writing, curation, and divination. She counts the Walker Art Center, the Portland Art Museum, and Fandor.com among her many clients and collaborators, and has been a driving force in the Pacific Northwest DIY scene through her co-leadership of Experimental Film Festival Portland, the live/work artist-run project space Compliance Division, and the ALTcade experimental video game showcase. Ask her about slime, the femme wellness industrial complex, or that time she made former Bachelor Ben Higgins blush.

Hannah Piper Burns
hannahpiper@gmail.com

Hannah Piper Burns (she/her) is an extramundane anthropologist of her culture's phenomena, detritus, kitsch, and trauma who works in time-based art, writing, curation, and divination. She counts the Walker Art Center, the Portland Art Museum, and Fandor.com among her many clients and collaborators, and has been a driving force in the Pacific Northwest DIY scene through her co-leadership of Experimental Film Festival Portland, the live/work artist-run project space Compliance Division, and the ALTcade experimental video game showcase. Ask her about slime, the femme wellness industrial complex, or that time she made former Bachelor Ben Higgins blush.