Can you feel that slight chill in the air? It’s coming. Scorpio season. But before we plunge into that Plutonian crucible of tricks and treats, the month ahead promises to be a sweet reprieve from the (lovably?) neurotic rigours of Virgo. Like pumpkin spice lattes and selfies, the virtues of charm, beauty, and harmony are undervalued, and sometimes even derided…but Libras know the kind of power that lies in collaboration, diplomacy, and glamour. Luckily for us, they wield that power like cosmic nunchaku. Famous Libras are known for being chameleonic and possessing high-wattage charisma, with Will Smith, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, and Matt Damon counted among their ranks. And of course, we’d be remiss if we failed to mention the selfie queen herself, Kim Kardashian West. Do you know someone admirably chatty, who dresses “extra” and is perpetually tardy, relentlessly fair, helplessly gossipy, and likely to go all “Homer in the hedge” when faced with direct conflict? Tell them happy birthday for me.
In all seriousness, we live in — and this is kind of an understatement — extremely polarizing times. When all “faves” are problematic and rhetoric is inflamed to the point of pain, it’s really helpful to remember that there can be multiple realities coexisting at once. Represented by the scales (the only inanimate object in the zodiac), Libras are always looking for the point of equilibrium between extremes. That makes them great diplomats, and sometimes frustrating devil’s advocates. It also makes them superlative storytellers — I submit Guillermo del Toro, Spike Jonze, Steve McQueen, Penny Marshall, and Danny Boyle as evidence! In that spirit, here are five great films to help you maximize this month’s Astro vibes:
The Importance of Being Earnest dir. Oliver Parker, 2002
If Libras were a sports team, they’d be called the Wilde Bunch, and their mascot would be the ultimate Libra icon: Oscar Wilde. Their pre-game cheer would be, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” They’d go toe-to-toe with the Geminis in the final bracket of competitive bantering, and roundly defeat them due to superior focus and social dexterity…plus, they’d beguile all of the referees. All of this to say, The Importance of Being Earnest is a perfect Libra season treat: hilarious, romantic, light, and full of people saying devastatingly clever things while wearing absolutely fabulous clothes. There are a few versions of this movie to choose from, but I went with the one starring Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, and Dame Judi Dench.
Rashomon dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1950
It’s crucial to understand that Libras aren’t indecisive because they are lazy or milquetoast. They’re indecisive because they know the truth about the truth: There’s more than one version! If you need help making a choice, count on a Libra to make it harder for you, in the best way possible. Beloved director Akira Kurosawa introduced Western audiences to Japanese cinema with Rashomon, a triumph of sensuous imagery and nonlinear narrative that examines a crime from four distinct and divergent perspectives. Kurosawa’s use of contradictory flashbacks and unreliable narrators continues to influence today’s film and television, as well as legal studies. Justice may be blind, but she’s holding scales, carefully weighing conflicting truths.
The Room dir. Tommy Wiseau, 2003
Everyone knows that The Room, which was literally shot on 35mm film and high-definition video simultaneously because director Tommy Wiseau couldn’t pick a format, is hot juicy garbage. But it’s still, somehow, kind of delicious! A strange film by an even stranger man, The Room has inspired audience participation to rival The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Wiseau still pulls incredible crowds when he hosts screenings around the country. When I saw a screening hosted by Wiseau, the line to get in stretched around the block. He showed up wearing somewhere between three and five ostentatiously studded belts, and he totally derailed a pre-screening costume contest due to (you guessed it) his own pathological dithering and vacillation. In hindsight, the Libra was coming off of him very strongly. Now, fifteen years after its release, Tommy Wiseau’s cinematic monument to indecision stands as a cult classic (and has been immortalized by the 2017 comedy-biopic The Disaster Artist). It’s also currently free to watch on YouTube as both an important cautionary tale for filmmakers — or anyone, really — and an utterly perverse delight.
Identity Crisis dir. Melvin Van Peebles, 1989
If Melvin Van Peeble’s name sounds familiar, you probably know him for the infamous Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. He’s also the father of Mario Van Peebles, who co-wrote, co-produced, and stars. Identity Crisis was screened at Cannes but was distributed directly to the video. Through a series of coincidences involving drugs, theft, and a murder plot, the soul of French fashion designer Yves Malmaison and rapper Chilly D become trapped in the same body, and as you might imagine, hijinks ensue. Some mistake Libra’s whole vibe to be about temperance and equilibrium, it’s really more about duality and adaptability. If anyone could survive such a hilarious “Freaky Friday” situation and even thrive in it, it’d for sure be a Libra, a sign that gets a bad rep for changing their personalities, often unconsciously, in order to be in harmony with their surroundings. Some would consider that a strength!
Design for Living dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 1933
Just in case it wasn’t extremely obvious by now, Libra folks are ruled by Venus, baby! That means love often comes easy to them, whether they are working for it or not. We call it “relentlessly, incorrigibly flirtatious”; they call it “just being friendly.” There’s also a running theory that air signs (Libra, Gemini, and Aquarius) are the most suited to polyamory, kind of like how mutable signs are most suited to serial murder. Put it all together and what do you get? You get Design for Living, a pre-code “nontraditional romance” that deserves cult status for its prescience concerning modern love, alone. It’s a movie about a muse with moxie, the ways that love inspire and nurtures creativity, and how you can, to paraphrase Brit rockers Oasis, start a revolution from your bed. And that, right there, is the Libra dream.