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Guide to overcoming sloth 

So many movies, so little time. In anticipation of our readers becoming hopelessly addicted to SSX3, we've prepared this handy film calendar which will tell you when to put the controller down, wipe the Doodle dust from your trousers, and head for the theater. Some of these dates are subject to change, so you might want to double-check them before venturing out into the cold.

December 6:King of the Hill's Mike Judge and stick-figure guru Don Hertzfeldt have curated The Animation Show, a special collection of --- you guessed it --- animated shorts playing tonight at the Dryden Theatre. You'll see new, old, foreign, and domestic works of varying length and quality here, including Judge's Saturday Night Live short that eventually served as the basis for his wickedly funny feature Office Space, as well as Herzfeldt's Rejected, a frighteningly violent look at why I'm afraid to talk to girls.

December 12 to 14: The only thing wackier than the content of Matthew Barney's five Cremaster films is the fact that he made them out of order (4, 1, 5, 2, 3). Beginning in 1994 and culminating in 2002, the Cremaster cycle covers such beloved topics as freemasonry, dental surgery, zombies, gangsters, and demolition derbies. If you're among our sicker readers, you may have seen one or two of Barney's films, but this is your big (and probably only) chance to catch all six-and-a-half hours over the same weekend... in order, no less. Tonight, the Dryden Theatre screens Cremaster 1 and Cremaster 2, while Saturday night sees the unspooling of the three-hour Cremaster 3. Sunday will, of course, conclude the series with Cremaster 4 and Cremaster 5.

December 17: Peter Jackson's amazing Lord of the Rings trilogy finally draws to a close with The Return of the King. And if you're not interested in seeing it, you might want to go ahead and have your head examined.

December 25: The only obstacle preventing The Return of the King from laying siege to the Oscars like Orcs storming Mount Doom is Cold Mountain, director Anthony Minghella's big-screen adaptation of Charles Frazier's flowery Civil War drama. To say Mountain is packed with stars might be the year's biggest understatement. The two female leads (Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger) have been nominated for Oscars each of the last two years. The film also stars Jude Law as well as some guy named Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is, literally, buried so deep in the incredibly impressive list of acting talent, you might not even catch his name.

December 26: The notion of Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Benicio Del Toro appearing in the same film should motivate even the most sloth-like City readers to queue up, but the fact that 21 Grams is also Alejandro González Iñarritu's follow-up to the brilliant, awe-inspiring Amores Perros may prevent you from sleeping in sheer anticipation. The film, which once again twists three stories around a car accident, doesn't come close to disappointing, either. The only problem Grams poses is to Oscar voters: Do they honor Penn for this, or for Mystic River?

January 2: You were dazzled by the return of insanely bloody swordplay with Kill Bill, Volume 1, and are fidgeting like a little kid who has to pee really bad while waiting for the second half to surface in theatres. The Dryden Theatre's Heroic Grace program, which begins tonight with Come Drink With Me and runs throughout January, should tide you over until the actual killing of Bill (or, better yet, Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi). Titles include One-Armed Swordsman, Golden Swallow, Vengeance!, Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Blood Brother, and Return to the 36th Chamber. These are the films Tarantino lovingly incorporated into his latest, so do yourself a favor and see the source material.

January 3: Have you ever seen 2001: A Space Odyssey on the big screen? Then I guess I know what you're doing tonight at the Dryden Theatre. Warning: If your name is Dave, do not hit the weed before seeing this film.

January 4: Two days after the Dryden Theatre debuts the Heroic Grace program, they unveil an equally impressive but far tamer series of films involving the Beatles. Tonight is a double feature of the Beatles-less It's Trad, Dad! plus Go Go Mania, which features appearances by The Animals and Herman's Hermits, as well as the Fab Four. The Beatles program runs through February and will feature the usual staples of Yellow Submarine, A Hard Day's Night, Help! and The Magical Mystery Tour. But there are lesser-seen gems, too, like The Hours and Time, What's Happening! The Beatles in the USA, How I Won the War, Wonderwall, The Magic Christian, and Let it Be.

January 9: Xerox employee Frank Hannah wrote a script called The Cooler, which was made into a low-budget indie with William H. Macy playing the eponymous mush who can't catch a break at the casino. When the film screened at Sundance, it was scooped up for $1.5 million and dropped into a December release slot generally reserved for Oscar bait, so that should tell you how good it's going to be.

January 16:Big Fish isn't the eagerly awaited screen debut of Abe Vigoda's character from Barney Miller. Fish is, however, the latest from professional nut job Tim Burton, which should frighten off anyone interested in today's only other opening of note --- Girl with a Pearl Earring, the bodice ripper about the subject (Scarlett Johansson) of Johannes Vermeer's (Colin Firth) famous painting.

January 17: Did you ever wonder if films like The Matrix Revolutions and Beyond Borders might be better without all of the mindless banter? If so, you're in the same boat as György Pálfi, the 27-year-old writer-director of Hukkle, a dialogue-free Hungarian film screening tonight at the Dryden Theatre. Sit and watch as an old man with hiccups sits and watches what seems like an average day in his tiny village. But it's not. So pay attention.

In This Guide...

    Holiday Guide 2003

    It may seem too early, but we at City know the truth: The holidays are coming. Before diving into the rush, take a moment and plan your attack with this handy guide.

    Crafting friendship

    In the dimming days of winter, many of us turn to the screen for warmth and comfort, much the way our ancestors turned to the hearth. Movie rentals increase, video game sales spike, and computers --- with their instant access to e-mail and the Internet --- take on new significance.

    Holiday treats about town

    The malls might provide one-stop convenience around the holidays, but for some of us, they have little appeal. Malls smell, sound, and look essentially the same, and have similar mixes of stores selling the same old mall stuff.

    A world full of cheese

    The six o'clock news was showing footage of the military campaign in Iraq. My three-year-old daughter saw something that looked familiar.

    Classical holiday concerts

    Brighton Symphony Orchestra Holiday songs, Sun and Wed, Dec 7 and 10, John Marcellus, conductor, Sun: 3156 East Ave, 2:30 p.m.; Wed: 1500 Portland Ave, 7:15 p.m. 248-0680, www.brightonsymphony.org. Brockport-Community Chorus Christmas Fantasy, Sun, Dec 7, First Presbyterian Church, 35 State St, Brockport, 7:30 p.m.

    You know what to do

    Theater A Christmas Carol Nov 28-Dec 28, Dickens' holiday tradition, Geva Theatre Center,75 Woodbury Blvd. Tix: $13-$47.50.

    It’s an international life

    Calling certain aspects of "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" inconvenient sounds blasphemous, but Santa and his elves don't shower their pointy-toed pep on everyone. Internationals --- students and non-students alike --- often find themselves in Rochester during the winter season, feeling a twinge of homesickness and craving home-cooked holiday celebration.

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