The humour in Michael Bay’s latest movie “Pain & Gain” is just as crude as the demolition-fests in his usual blockbusters. Yet this story about a group of athletes and bodybuilders, pursuing their dream of getting rich by use of violence is based on real events. The three protagonists are avidly exercising at a muscles factory, only their brains seem to never having been trained. Nevertheless they are quite inventive when it comes to torturing their victims – as in every other respect they just follow their most barbaric instincts…
A contrasting and positive muscle-hero is offered by Roland Emmerich’s action-flick “White House Down”: The somewhat clumsy father of a very patriotic little girl applies for a job at the Secret Service (and fails), using the opportunity to impress his daughter with a visit to the White House. It goes without saying that things get completely out of hand when terrorists attack and gain control over the White House, yet this is just the situation that grants our hero his chance to prove his skills not only to his daughter but to the president as well…
The French and Portuguese feel-good comedy “A Gilded Cage” is mainly about cultural differences in customs and traditions and even everyday habits. A good-natured, hard-working Portuguese couple living in Paris for many years suddenly could get rich by inheriting a large house with a vineyard in Portugal – under the condition of moving back home and living there. But despite of all cultural differences the family has grown roots in France and the decision they have to make is not an easy one…
In the German literary adaptation “The Taste of Apple Seeds” the story is also initiated by an inheritance: A young woman inherits her grandmother’s house and thus returns to the place of her childhood that has been in her family’s possession for generations. Spanning many decades, events of her family’s history are narrated at a leisurely pace by flashbacks that are following rekindled memories of the protagonists, prompted mainly by smells or sounds.
“Frances Ha” is a comedy about a socially inept young woman struggling with mostly mundane issues. Reminiscent of film history, all the small urban moments of average neurotics bumping into each other reminded me of Woody Allen movies. Funny situations and quirky dialogue with some added slapstick humour give this easy-going story about urban everyday life it’s entertaining and typically breezy Gemini character.
Witty dialogue, some action, lots of funny situations and a bunch of retired special agents, struggling once more with some wild espionage plot and getting pretty pissed about being the target of some hitman are the ingredients that make the sequel “Red 2” so very entertaining and amusing. Once more the story that is told shouldn’t be taken too serious, but watching those old warhorses banter and battle along is pure fun…
Even the trailer for “Mr. Morgan’s Last Love” is touching and thus Cancerian. This little film about loss and grief and how to cope with it narrates the story of a British philosophy professor living in Paris, whose beloved wife has passed away and who (always being rather detached from the world) has become a recluse ever since. This withdrawn old man, who only starts to live again after befriending a young yet also lonely dance teacher, is played by Michael Caine in a subtle and truly moving manner.
In contrast the Irish film “Run & Jump” is an agitated emotional drama about illness, family and love: After her husband suffered a stroke, displaying the disposition of a volatile child in the aftermath, the life of a young wife and mother is changed notably. Worried in-laws and a teenage son with his own problems are not very helpful in that situation. And the arrival of a neuroscientist, who is initially interested in the unusual development of her husband’s illness but then turns his attention to her, makes for a rocky emotional journey…
Sophia Coppola’s black comedy “The Bling Ring” throws an unexpected light on teenagers and adolescents being obsessed with celebrities: Based on a true story we see a group of vain fans gathering to break into the houses of their beloved stars and idols, stealing their private things in search for a kind of closeness with the adored person. They imitate the celebrity’s lifestyle with their loot of clothes and jewels and boost their egos with (stolen) grandeur and glamour.
The desire for celebrity lifestyle, fame and glamour is also motivating the protagonists of “Not Fade Away”, yet in their case the desire is connected to their own creativity. While the Beatles and the Rolling Stones celebrate their first successes during the 60ies, two young men form their own rock band, dream their own dream of success, follow their own desire for expressing themselves and find self-confidence and maturity along the way – although (or maybe because) they have to realize that not every heartfelt wish comes true…
The German documentary “Sunday Warriors” is about people, who regularly escape their everyday life only to immerse themselves into a well-conjured and lovingly detailed “parallel world”, the world of “Life Action Role-play”. With self-made masks and creative imagination clerk, workers or teachers transform into orcs, elves and magicians. This system of connecting daily routine with the perfectly organized, regular escape from it displays an especially well integrated union of Virgo and Pisces.
Sensible handling of resources and social responsibility are the typical Virgo-topics that are tackled in another documentary: “Bottled Life”. The film reports about the company Nestlé and their daily business with our most important resource: drinking water. In countries like Pakistan or Nigeria it is not granted that tap water is safe and drinkable – Nestlé there sells purified and augmented water, which is called “Pure Life”…
“Gloria”, a Spanish-Chilean co-production, is a likeable and elegant but slightly tragic comedy about a divorced middle-aged woman searching for new love after a time of solitude. She loves to dance and so she meets the somewhat older Rodolfo, who falls in love with her yet isn’t ready for a new relationship. He has only separated from his wife shortly before he met Gloria and has difficulties to commit…
Another movie about an aged woman and her (in this case: literally) young love is the French “Bright Days Ahead”. Here we meet the amazing Fanny Ardant as a quite happily married, newly retired dentist, to whom her daughters suggest visiting a senior citizens club. Bored by the pottery course and amateur theatre, she takes an interest in the computer class – or rather in the young man teaching the class. The ensuing affair brings fresh impulse into her marriage and her family life…
Thoroughly shameless and with a crude sense of humour the screen adaptation of best selling novel “Feuchtgebiete” (“Wetlands”) challenges the last taboos of a culture fixated on in-depth hygiene and spotlessly polished bodies with it’s own fixation on things like anal fissures, haemorrhoids, the taste and smell of menstrual blood and other bodily fluids. These striking Scorpio-motifs are complemented by some deep psychological insight into the soul of a troubled teenage girl.
The question “You’re not afraid of the dark, are you?” is the trademark of an unusual movie character: Riddick returns to the screen with “Riddick: Dead Man Stalking”. The man from planet Furya, who can see in the dark, gets another chance to prove that his survival instincts could only be exceeded by his fearlessness. The third (live action) instalment of the saga that started out in 2000 with the telling title “Pitch Black” again shows this human predator fighting dangerous monsters and becoming the only hope for survival even for his enemies.
Being a mixture of jovial bon vivant, innovative entrepreneur and independent libertine the main character in “The Look of Love” is practically the model of a Sagittarius-personality. The biopic about British businessman Paul Raymond aka “King of Soho”, who created quite some scandals during the 60ies and 70ies by advertising erotic magazines and strip-clubs, does nevertheless also point to the emotional price that is usually paid in human relationships, when unrelenting drive for action and megalomania dominate a life.
Free-spiritedness and the wish for independence are strong themes in “Wadjda”. This German-Arabic coproduction is about a girl, Wadjda, in Saudi-Arabia, where specifically women are subject to massive restrictions in everyday life. But although riding a bicycle is forbidden for her gender, this girl’s greatest wish is a bicycle and she pursues this dream with all her energy. The film becomes an emancipation story, overcoming straight social criticism with a positive hint of empowerment and hope.
“Gold” is a German western, accompanying a group of prospectors of German descent on their gruelling journey to the Klondike gold fields. Although the characters are inspired by hopeful visions of a better life (Sagittarius), the movie’s tenacious and reduced narrative style, its dry imagery, emphasizing scantiness, the desert and physical hardship primarily suggest Capricorn qualities.
The gloomy thriller “Shadow Dancer” picks up Capricorn-motifs like guilt and responsibility, loyalty and treason and tells a story about human feelings falling by the wayside, when state interests and military organizations put the screws on individuals. Since her little brother’s death, for which she felt responsible, a young single mother became a member of an almost family-run IRA-terror cell. After an arrest she accepts a deal offered by the MI5 and thus endangers not only herself…
Aquarian ideals like liberty, equality and brotherliness don’t mean anything in the two-tier society dominated by “Elysium” in the year 2154. But, supported by a small group of rebels, the involuntary hero Max steps up to change that. Restarting the central computer program with some minor modifications could change the world and endow every individual with the same rights and liberties…
Individual rights and liberties also appear to be the topic of “The Congress”, a partly animated film, loosely based on Stanislav Lem’s science-fiction novel “The Futurological congress”. A futuristic technology, which is enabling companies to buy an actress’s virtual persona and thus her substantial personality rights, provides the major inspiration for fundamental questions about human existence, the freedom of will and other philosophical pondering, while the merging of illusions and dubious realities already adds some Pisces quality.
Actually “Trance” is about an art robbery, which could have made the movie an example for Gemini-like themes. But since one of the thieves does not remember what happened after the heist nor where he put the stolen item, a psychologist is summoned to help find out by hypnosis what couldn’t be achieved by torture. This starts a puzzling game of deception, narrative manoeuvres, suggestions and assumptions creating confusion and making it almost impossible to distinguish true memory and/or reality from illusion or deceit…
Based on a true story that happened in 2009, the thriller “Lose Your Head” shows a young Spaniard trying to overcome and forget his break-up by partying in Berlin. He falls for the Ukrainian Viktor, and getting more and more entangled with the mysterious circumstances that are accompanying the disappearance of another young man his new lover had been involved with, he starts to doubt his own identity… Club scenes with light and music condensing into psychedelic escapism and quotes like “there is no border between you and the other” enhance the surreal feeling that keeps growing during the film…
The Cinemascope is meant to give an overview of current movies and their main themes from an astrosemiotical perspective (i.e.: regarding film as semiotic system and translating it into the astrological semiotic system). A well made movie not only has a story and a certain theme, it also provides a special atmosphere, a certain feeling and it draws us into its very own world. This basic quality that is contrived through characters, plot, setting and many other components also translates into one or more astrological principles. Quite simply: a fast-paced action-flick confronts us with plain Aries energy, a horror-movie evokes Scorpio-like abysmal depths and fears etc. We step out of the theatre and – if the film succeeded in sucking us in – find ourselves dwelling on and engaging in that special energetic quality.
24-May-2018, 00:55 UT/GMT
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