Jessica Lange and I both have are Ascendants in Leo. Oh yes, Sun signs, Moon signs, birth charts, aspects - I'm very well read in astrology. I wouldn't necessarily call it a belief system or philosophy as much as I would compare it to...a science.
Astrology, in most respects, is the science of planetary and cosmic energy, and their effects on individuals and society as a whole. It's a science of causes and effects, of patterns and potentials. Throw out the newspaper horoscope columns, and the fun, coffee-table book rampant with cliches, and those images you have of Zsa Zsa Gabor with a Middle-Eastern-patterned hankerchief wrapped around her head - because if these are some of the ideas you may have floating in your head about what astrology is all about, you're dead wrong.
Now, where was I? Ah, yes. Jessie and me both have our Ascendants in Leo.
Ascendant - The ascendant is the sign which was rising in the sky due east of your birthplace, at the exact time of your birth. Without a specific, accurate time of birth, it is impossible to determine the ascendant. As you can imagine, the rising sign, as it is also called, is a very unique point in one's birth chart. And in the case that you happen to come across someone that shares your rising sign, it would be unlikely that you and that person wouldn't make a great impression on one another - for the good or the bad. The ascendant, as we have stated, is a very important point in the horoscope. It shows how you express yourself to the world. It's you showing yourself to the world outside. It will even indicate your outward, physical appearance and mannerisms; your sense of style and the way you choose to express yourself in a myriad of situations.
The Ascendant in Leo is common among the charts of musical and dramatic peformers, as well as creative people and general and officials in high positions of authority. Maryiln Monroe had her rising sign in Leo. Muhammad Ali, Bill Clinton ( a "double" Leo, with his Sun also in Leo), Meryl Streep, and many more.
Now the whole point in my bringing up the coincidence that Jessica and I share this important point in our birth charts is because rising signs share the same common, life lessons - albeit it at different ages - based on the five outer planets contained in our horoscopes: Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. These are planets that take years to complete one trip around the twelve signs of the horoscope, and so they move very slowly through specific, and often times vital, aspects of our lives and our beings.
With the exception of Frances, Losing Isaiah is the film with which I began to make deep, highly introspective comparisons between my life and Jessica's art. It was a film that at the age of thirteen, sitting amidst empty seats, captivated me with it's raw, flawed and simple power. Lange's performance - specifically the scene where she explodes at her husband with grief and rage - resonated in me the feelings I was begin to experience concerning my abusive childhood and my latent homosexuality.
Then came Rob Roy, a film in which we witness Lange endure a brutal rape and, in order to survive and keep her husband strong and focused, withhold her experience as a secret from both friends and neighbors. This echoed a point in my life where I secretly accepted for myself that I was gay and that I actually live a normal life, albeit alone somewhere, far and away from anyone that could be connected to my past. It also reminded me of the strength I exhibited when my mother made the decision to move us into my violently alcoholic grandmother's home, where my uncle, stuck in the grips of an explosive crack-addiction, also dwelled. The strength of keeping quiet and keeping focused.
Then came (sigh) A Streetcar Named Desire. Now, I can safely say that, after watching the original starring Brando and Leigh, that this is some of Jessica's best, most riveting work. A performance that equals, if not surpasses, the original. Tired, gasping, wrung, splitting at this seems - Jessica's performance hear echoed the pain and revelations that exploded during my mother and I's last months with her mother and brother.
A Thousand Acres was reminiscent of my mother and I - in a sense, sisters - who survived the aftermath and prepared for a new chapter in both our combined and seperate lives.
Cousin Bette was devilish fun - much like I was having - much like you can tell Jessie was having (giggle). And came Hush - a comic mistake in both our lives that shall be kept secret...on both our behalves (laughs).
Titus, with it's golden-armored breastplates and wonderfully Shakesperean-vampy monolouges signaled a strange, serendepitously coming-of-age turn in both our lives: she hit 50, I hit legal adulthood - 18. I took off to New York City after that, into a world of youth, exuberance, sex, drugs and travel.
She did Prozac Nation, which - to point out the highly synchronistic patterns found between common rising signs - was shelved for three years before I would eventually see it and experience how eerily it compared perfectly with my life...ploint-point after sickening plot-point.
Instead, I was treated with Big Fish, Masked and Anonymous and Normal - which all show a rather lost, subdued Lange. Flighty and elusive. All three performances - and films, in fact - reflected a time in my life filled with just as much wandering, philosophizing, changing, drifting and disappearing.
Then comes Prozac Nation, based on the electrifying and sobering bestelling memoir by Elizabeth Wurtzel. Lange's high-strung, volatile and shattering performance not only embodied where I was in my life - specifically the horrific and crushing telephone scenes (shudder) - but the Ricci and the film as a whole was a blow by blow of my life:
Having been a writer all my life, I'm no stranger to the manically depressive, extremely introverted mind: After having been diagnosed with the HIV virus in the summer of 2004, I cemented by then-growing relationship with my best friend, and he and I both packed a few bags and took a bus all the way from Hollywood, Florida to San Francisco. At the time, though I wasn't aware of it, I was in the midst of an explosive manic episode. My boyfriend broke up with me, flew back to Hollywood. I stayed behind in San Francisco, attempted suicide twice, called and wrote him obssessively, immersed myself in booze and crystal meth and basically whithered. Insane telephone calls with my estranged father and mother, pill-popping - all of it was too much my life.
I got into the study of theology. Started researching and studying all the major religions - their roots and origins. The fundamentals of spirituality. And boom - she hits me with Broken Flowers. A character and performance that channeled me. Yes, I believe in the collective unconscious. And that was me. And is me now, as I just hung up the phone with my ex-boyfriend - the one that trecked with me to San Francisco - after an hour conversation about "getting back together." And he actually gave me those two cliche man-lines: "How about we go out for a drink?" "How about something to eat?" And, yes, you bet I did: I gave him Carmen. "No...I don't drink. Ah...I don't eat."
I haven't seen Don't Come Knocking, but I did find the clip of Jessica tearing Shepard to shreds after he proposes they get back together. And it looks like that'll be something I'll be living next week.
As for her other looming projects: Sybil, Bonneville (I think I'll be ready for another road trip by then), The Mermaids Singing, Grey Gardens, The Lost Doll...I'll just have to check my astrological forecast for the coming months...