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The true spirit of Hollywood 

While there are inevitably a couple of movies every year set against Christmas --- but hardly a cavalcade of films about Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, incidentally --- it's probably misleading to call this a holiday movie preview. If Jesus were blowing out candles in June, these flicks would still be squeezing in under the Academy deadline.

A better title for this piece might be The Studios Saved These Movies For The End Of The Year So The Academy Will Remember Them Come Oscar Time Preview... which means it could be a little while before some of them make it to Rochester. So try not to pummel me with questions about why certain films aren't here yet. I will make sure to pester those responsible for our escapism.

For now, however, I'm just going to tease you...

Days of Being Wild

It's not eligible for any Oscars and probably on video. But I absolutely love Wong Kar-Wai (In the Mood for Love) and I'm crossing my fingers that I will get to see the re-release of his 1991 drama on the big screen. Little Theatre? Dryden? You have your instructions. (11/19 limited)

Alexander

Oliver Stone's lavish biographical epic stars Colin Farrell as that friend of Josie and the Pussycats who always wears sunglasses... wait; what? Oh. Apparently it's about Macedonian wunderkind Alexander the Great. That could be good, too. (11/24)

A Very Long Engagement

Amelie's director and its star, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Audrey Tautou, reunite for this love story about a girl searching for her fiancé after his disappearance at the end of WWI. Jodie Foster cameos and shows off her reportedly flawless French. (11/26 limited)

House of Flying Daggers

First Crouching Tiger, then Hero, and now this --- isn't Zhang Ziyi getting tired of wire-fu? I'm not. Especially when it's by Hero's Zhang Yimou and costars the dreamy Takeshi Kaneshiro, who played the pineapple-loving cop in Chungking Express. (12/3)

Dolls

I saw this well over a year ago and can't remember much about it other than it's by Japanese national treasure Takeshi Kitano, it's about love (aren't all movies?), and it's gorgeous. (12/10 limited)

Beyond the Sea

Kevin Spacey directs and stars in this biopic about Bobby Darin. Normally I wouldn't care, but getting screenplay credit along with Spacey are a Who's Who of screenwriters: Paul Attanasio, Lorenzo Carcaterra, and James Toback. (12/10 limited)

The Sea Inside

Spain's hottest director (Alejandro Amenabar, The Others) and hottest actor (the Oscar-nominated Javier Bardem, Before Night Falls) finally hook up for this true story about a paralyzed fisherman who waged a 30-year war for the right to die with dignity. (12/17 limited)

The Aviator

Here's a sad statistic: Martin Scorsese and I have an equal number of Oscars. Maybe he'll leave me in the dust with this portrayal of Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) at the time he was revolutionizing the airplane industry and nailing starlets. Plus it's got Jude Law! It's been like a whole hour since we've seen him in a movie. (12/17)

In the Realms of the Unreal

This future Best Documentary nominee is about Henry Darger, a reclusive janitor who died in 1973 and left behind hundreds of paintings as well as a 15,000-page novel that recounts the wars between nations on an unnamed planet. (12/22 limited)

Meet the Fockers

I bet when the makers of this sequel to Meet the Parents landed Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand as Ben Stiller's folks they rubbed their hands raw with glee. It's genius, inspired casting that hopefully will not let us down. (12/22)

Hotel Rwanda

The amazing Don Cheadle stars in this true story (and Toronto Film Fest People's Choice winner) about a man who saved thousands from the Rwandan genocide. (12/22 limited)

Fat Albert

Live action and animation are blended in this big-screen adaptation of the exploits of Bill Cosby's Junkyard Gang. Hey, hey... never mind. (12/25)

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

Last year's Oscar winner Sean Penn stars in this true story about a salesman who attempted to hijack a plane and crash it into the Nixon White House. (12/29 limited)

The Merchant of Venice

Scenery-munchers Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons doing Shakespeare over Christmas vacation sounds suspiciously educational. (12/29 limited)

Sorry to have worked you up like that. I promise it'll be worth it.

In This Guide...

    Holiday Guide 2005

    It's easy to get rundown desperately seeking that warm and fuzzy holiday feeling It's easy to get rundown desperately seeking that warm and fuzzy holiday feeling.

    To dance like Clara

    By the time audiences see the annual Thanksgiving-time performances of The Nutcracker, with dancers provided by the Rochester City Ballet and music performed by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the work is polished. The poise of the dancers, the memorable swells and leaps in Tchaikovsky's score, the dancing sweets and swirling snowflakes --- it all makes one seamless, magical whole.

    Making Scrooge memories

    You know it's December when the fight or flight instinct kicks in. If picking a fight with your sister-in-law has lost its appeal and escaping to Puerto Vallarta isn't in your budget, channel your energy in a new direction.

    We must have been good this year

    One night I woke to the sound of sled runners and hooves on my roof. I couldn't see much out my bedroom window so I staggered downstairs.

    Holiday calendar

    Theater A Christmas Carol Nov 26-Dec 26.

    Holiday classical calendar

    Classical Amadeus Chorale Fri, Dec 3.

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