REVIEWS: Genocide on parade: “Carnage,” “In the Land of Blood and Honey” onscreen, “Anne Frank” onstage at WaterTower

In Carnage, two well-intentioned, upper-class New York couples hash out the details of a schoolyard brawl between their sons. Ethan, the son of Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael Longstreet (John C. Reilly), was swatted in the face with a tree branch by Zachary, the son of Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz), knocking out a few teeth.

Penelope is especially high-strung about the incident — so much so, she can’t help but insert little jibes even as Nancy and Alan (clearly less horrified by the events than Penelope would like) offer pro forma apologies. Their son “intentionally hit him,” she snipes, eventually causing Alan to observe, “Yes, we’ve established it was intentional — what is gained by emphasizing it?”

Penelope clearly wants to live in a world where enemies become friends and we all hold hands around a campfire; Alan, a high-powered litigator, has a more cynical view. “I worship the god of carnage,” he says. Bad things happen, even if not because of bad people. Violence simply is the way.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Starvoice • 12.30.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Todd Haynes turns 51 on Monday. The gay filmmaker sparked the New Queer Cinema movement with his 1991 feature debut Poison. Since then, he’s gone in a variety of directions with films like Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven and I’m Not There. His most recent work was seen on HBO as he directed Kate Winslet in the title role of Mildred Pierce.

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THIS WEEK

Venus in Aquarius sextile Eris, both quincunx to Mars in Virgo, makes people “helpful” with criticism, but sensitive in receiving it. Those who can take it and use it will benefit most. Put aside any defensiveness; listen and learn.

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CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Your bleak vision of the future is more accurate than most. Opportunities can still be found. Trust your intuition. It’s not cynical if you bring others up with you.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Feeling unsure of what you believe is a healthy step toward deeper convictions. This is a learning opportunity: keep an open mind; listen to different opinions. Then take time to sort it out.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Sexual frustration can reveal spiritual needs more than any lack of quantity or technical skill. If you can’t be with the one you truly love, take time out to focus on those deeper needs.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
You are too eager to get ahead, creating discord among co-workers. It takes some effort to keep an open mind and ears to match. Ttry talking softer and listening harder.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Focus on how your personal goals can serve the world at large. Keep your critical urges constructive and focused on yourself. Improve techniques at work and play to better your own life.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Much as you want to fix things at home you may be better off out with your friends. Maybe community work? If you need to deal with hypercriticism, target number one is in the mirror.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
You push and work too hard to appear in control. Be on top of the job, not on top of your co-workers. Listen to them and remember you’re all on the same team.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Being a drama queen is entertaining to others, but not in the way you want. There are better ways to deal with your worries. Focus. A mature, sensible voice is at hand with any help you need.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Worrying never helps. Put your imagination to better use. Examples and lessons from your family will help and can be a springboard toward new inspiration.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
Be alert to hidden enemies. Carelessness in conversations can create more. An air of creative mystery can get you into a torrid affair. It probably won’t last, but enjoy it while it does.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
You’re feeling feisty, ambitious and sharp. To avoid counterproductive arguments, keep your mind on what’s important in the long run. Getting bogged down is a great way to lose the war.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
Heed those hunches that suggest new job opportunities. Of course you have to check them out with solid info, but take those steps. A new sport helps you keep fit mentally and physically.

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

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas