Starvoice • 01.20.12

edBy Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Ellen DeGeneres turns 54 on Thursday. The comedian/talk show host has won 13 Emmys during her career while parylaying successful endeavors as a spokersperson for Cover Girl and voicing the role of Dory in Finding Nemo, set for a 3D release this fall. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also named her Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness in November 2011.

…………………

THIS WEEK

Mars is turning retrograde and will backtrack through Virgo until April 13. In this period, recent pet peeves, critical arguments, bitchy outbursts and intestinal inflammations will come back to haunt you. Keep an eye on self-improvement without beating yourself up.

…………………

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Old arguments highlight your need to reconsider ideals you’ve taken for granted. Be careful that shrewd insight doesn’t push you to disillusion friends. You can be realistic and respectful.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Your debonair wit could easily backfire. The line between incisive epigrams and rude bitchiness is too easy to stumble over. If you need to be naughty, find an appropriate partner and a room.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
It’s very easy to talk your way into a hot little affair, but you may soon find it harder to get out of. Be sure of where the exits are before you step into anything.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
You’re cranky, even aggressive, especially with colleagues. Obsessing over details can distract you from bigger issues and dangers. But do heed details that concern your health.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Being nice comes off as manipulative. Use your overactive charms to deal with problems in a straightforward fashion. Resist the urge to gloss over them. Flirtations lead further than intended.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Disagreements at home get out of hand, especially when you just settled the problem. Be as patient and diplomatic as you can. Your attention soon turns to more interesting problems.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
A new passionate fling probably seems a lot more serious than it really is. Or less. Either way it’s sure to surprise you and probably a lot more people than you’d like to have know about it.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
It’s too easy to react to others. Your natural instinct is to be a control queen, but more productively, try to see why your nerves are so raw. Vigorous exercise will help your balance and insight.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
A cautious approach to a problem will open to more possibilities. Take that inspiration to work to find ideas pointing to new methods. With a solid grounding, advance bold new techniques.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
Hitting a plateau is a natural stage. Don’t let it discourage you. Keep at whatever you’re doing, although if you can figure out why you’re stuck you may find better ways of doing it.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
Frustration has more to do with your expectations. Brace yourself for problems to come back at you. Mouth off to friends who’ll help you develop a better perspective.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
Talk with relatives about family health issues to get rude surprises to prepare your doctor than the other way around. Brush up on skills and get updated on technology that will help you at work.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Movie review: ‘Blue Valentine’

Although Blue Valentine is about the disintegration of a straight couple’s marriage, the themes, scenes and emotions it deals with could be out of any relationship: The awkward silences, the cold touches, the largely unspoken anger, the rebuffed affection, the meaningless disagreements. There are moments of tenderness, but they are made all the sadder because we see them in flashback. It’s over for these two.

I’ve been in this kind of relationship. I’m sure most people have. And it’s not pretty.

Sound like a happy film? Yeah, it’s not. But it is very real.

It’s also the kind of film that invites “process” reviews — that is, stories about the making of the film itself and its style: the hand-held camera and improvised dialogue resulting from weeks of off-set rehearsal with stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams (Heath Ledger’s widow), who lived together as a married couple for weeks to get into the skins of the characters. That accounts for the realism — authenticity trumps contrivance, character supersedes plot.

You can’t call that a bad thing, but it can be difficult to watch. Cindy (Williams) and Dean (Gosling) are a young couple with a sweet 5-year-old daughter, but their marriage is failing. In fact, by the time the movie begins, it’s basically over. Both from working-class backgrounds — Dean is a housepainter and mover, Cindy is a nurse — but Cindy seems to feel trapped by Dean’s lack of ambition. She likes his goofy charm, his grand acts of romanticism, but she doesn’t seem challenged by him. “I thought the whole point of coming here was to have a night without kids,” she snipes when he takes her to a fantasy motel and begins making animal noises. Ouch.

Director Derek Cianfrance approximates John Cassavetes’ patented way of creating pained realism not from meaningful dialogue or fancy camerawork, but by intense observation of small moments between people. He hops between the beginnings of their courtship and the dissolve with only subtle visual cues. He also allows Gosling and Williams to sparkle in their roles. Both are likely Oscar contenders, so intense and measured are their performances.

Blue Valentine isn’t the best date movie, but it is, in some ways, an ideal break-up movie, one that makes you feel you’re not alone in that pain.

Now playing at Landmark’s Magnolia Theatre in the West Village. Rated R (after an original NC-17 rating for explicit sex). 118 mins.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones