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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

the secret history of cinemastrology

I can’t reveal how I know this, and frankly, I’m probably putting my life on the line saying anything about this at all, but my very-inside sources tell me there’s a new cult religion seducing the hip Hollywood set. Scientology, it seems, is yesterday’s news, with Hubbard devotees fleeing the aliens-ate-my-brain flock after seeing just exactly what it’s done to Tom Cruise. But celebs and creative types being what they are — insecure, mortally afraid of failure and success, and in constant need of stroking and reassurance — cannot abide the absence of such a crutch, and they have turned to the teachings of an obscure 16th-century Italian philosopher and seer, Filamadamus.
Filamadamus is so obscure, in fact, that no one was aware of his existence until last Tuesday, when a copy of his 18-volume Sopra Il Linea was discovered in a Malibu garage under a pile of unproduced screenplays and a discarded copy of Robert McKee’s Story. Word of the discovery quickly spread via Blackberry and cell phone through the Hollywood community, with everyone hearing from their agents and/or hairdressers and/or coke dealers how profound it was. And as soon as everyone actually bothered to have their assistants read Filamadamus’s work, its place in the annals of pop-culture-ania was assured.

The irony of the location of the resting place of Sopra Il Linea — or SIL, as it will be referred to from here — is, to all who have committed themselves to Filamadamus’s writings, clear. Born in 1543, the Genoan Filamadamus struggled as a screenwriter for years, penning what critics at the time deemed everything from “mad: the work of an insane potscrubber hopped up on that newfangled coffee-drink and delusions of his own rationality” (Ebertadamus, The Padua Sun-Times) to “brilliant! I loved every minute of it!” (Shalitadamus, Good Morning Venice). Success eluded Filamadamus, however, as the development of cinema was still 350 years in the future. (If only he had teamed up with Docbrownadamus, an inventor who lived just two alleys over in Genoa — the two, historians have determined, actually frequented the same cheese parlor and may have even exchanged pleasantries over a nice sharp reggiano without ever realizing whom the other was. Docbrownadamus may have built the first working time machine in 1573 before disappearing forever, perhaps to 1st-century Rome.) Filamadamus’s lavoro di giorno, or day job, kept him busy as a barista (literally, “server of overpriced beverages who demands a gratuity”) in one of the newfangled coffeehouses that were popping up all over the city. There, he garnered something of a reputation as a prognosticator, allegedly correctly predicting such things as, “Careful, you’ll burn yourself, that coffee is hot” and “You’ll love our new mochachino!”

But it was in 1569 that Filamadamus stunned his contemporaries with his startling and 100-percent accurate prophesy of the invention of the Steadicam. Of course, his contemporaries did not know he was accurate — the Steadicam would not be invented until 1973 — and so, terrified, they promptly burned him at the stake. After that, Filamadamus was more circumspect in his divination, embedding his forecasts in ambiguous sonnets that are ostensibly about how nice and sharp is the reggiano in his local cheese parlor, and how pleasant is the caffeine high from that newfangled coffee-drink, but, when deciphered, in fact foresee such historical events as the Fatty Arbuckle rape case, the development of Technicolor, the Betamax/VHS wars, the coming of David Poland, the rise and (forthcoming) fall of Paris Hilton (wait till you see: it’ll be a doozy!), and much more.

None of that is terribly controversial, and telling you this is not what makes me fear for my life. The dangerous knowledge weighing down on my conscience, knowledge that I can no longer keep silent about, is this: Filamadamus concocted a method of fortune-telling — clearly delineated in SIL — that he called cinemastrology, a term that some linguists now regard as the actual source word for “cinema.” And everyone in Hollywood, from script readers to studio heads, is letting cinemastrology guide their every move, their every decision. This is why movies are so bad today, why celebrities have gotten so out of hand, why our pop culture as a whole has gone into a huge decline. Filamadamus was clearly deranged — it’s impossible to sell a screenplay today, and he was writing them in the 16th century — and yet he is the invisible guiding hand behind everything that happens in the movie industry.

So what I’m going to do, every week here at FlickFilosopher.com, is republish the week’s cinemastrology forecasts (I have a concerned source inside the industry who is as worried as I am, and will pass the “cinemascopes” on to me each week) so you can see exactly what has infested the hearts and minds of the people to whom we have entrusted that sacred task of entertaining us. I don’t know how useful ordinary, non-Hollywood types will find these forecasts, how applicable they are to our lives. Determining your cinemastrology sign is not based upon day of birth, like the zodiac system most of us are familiar with, nor upon the year of birth, as in Chinese astrology. Determining your cinemastrology sign is an extremely arcane and somewhat painful process (it’s actually illegal in Alabama and Georgia) that involves your latte preference, what kind of car you drive, which fashion designer supplied your Oscar outfit, and various influences in another 15 esoteric arenas. But if you should read the cinemascopes and find yourself identifying with one particular sign, then, well, god help us all.

One final word. Even my source does not know who is generating these cinemascopes. As with traditional astrology, the rules are readily laid out but they require a particular kind of talent to interpret them and create horoscopes based upon them. Likewise, SIL lays out the rules of the various signs and how to make forecasts based upon them, but the system requires someone to actually make the forecasts. Who this person might be remains a mystery. But consider this. Here is the sole surviving image of Filamadamus, a 1581 sketch by an unknown artist:

Some believe that he bears a striking resemblance to Canadian character actor Michael Ironside:

More nefariously, some believe that Filamadamus did, in fact, know Docbrownadamus, knew full well what he was up to, and actually took advantage of his friend’s scientific expertise.

Now, I’m not saying that I believe for certain that Michael Ironside is Filamadamus. But it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep a close eye on Ironside, either.

Check back every Wednesday for an illicit peek at the cinemascopes that are driving the movie biz.



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