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Rene Zellweger  takes aim in the Oscar-baiting - Cold Mountain (Thursday).
  • Rene Zellweger takes aim in the Oscar-baiting Cold Mountain (Thursday).
Thursday, December 25

Assuming you want to get away from family, and assuming you've already seen the monumental and magnificent The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, there's another great movie opening today. Cold Mountain, English Patient director Anthony Minghella's take on Charles Frazier's best-selling novel, stars Nicole Kidman as a gal struggling to run the family farm while her man (Jude Law) is out fighting the Civil War. That is, until he goes AWOL and embarks on a long trek back to his North Carolina home. It's basically a series of vignettes (starring, among others, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Natalie Portman), beautifully photographed and epically imagined. All this and White Stripe Jack White, as a mandolin-strumming reb. What better way to spend Christmas? See Film for review.

Friday, December 26

If your film tastes gravitate more toward homegrown fare, Nick and Chris Staron's 20-minute short, "The Elephant," gets a free preview in Brunswick this weekend. The film, shot over three days in Sharon Township last August, is about a small municipality and the lessons in tolerance its residents learn. "It's about one man's trials to get his town to recognize the problems that are there," says Nick Staron. "The filming went surprisingly well. Even the elephant [was cooperative]." The screening also includes appearances by the filmmaking twins, as well as some of their other shorts, a music performance by Brian Lisik, who wrote three songs for the movie, and a discussion about what's next for the flick. "We're hoping to send it to Cannes and other [national] film festivals," Staron says. "The Elephant" screens at 8 p.m. today and tomorrow at Polaris Theater, 1480 Pearl Road in Brunswick. Visit www.thenoseglows.com for more info.

Saturday, December 27

With Christmas finally over, it's time to get back to serving your own interests for a change. At today's Youth Group Theater Workshop, Beck Center staffers assist kids and adults alike in making crafts based on Beck's latest production, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Afterward, a backstage tour of the venue gives participants a peek behind the curtain. It all culminates in a prime seat for a 4 p.m. performance of Joseph. Amazing! The Youth Group Theater Workshop starts at 2:30 p.m. at Beck Center, 17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. Fee is $17, $12 for kids (it includes supplies, snacks, and a ticket to Joseph). Call 216-521-2540 for more information.

Sunday, December 28

There's a sense of sadness and defeat in the pictures of Ray K. Metzker. And in the first proper survey of his scenery work, the art museum's Voyage of Discovery: The Landscape Photographs of Ray K. Metzker, the 107 black-and-white photos reveal an artist toeing the line between traditional and experimental photography. His subjects -- trees, plains, and lakes -- are common, but his use of light, focus, and composition revels in the discovery of melancholy detail. It's great viewing for a bleak winter day. Voyage of Discovery is at the Cleveland Museum of Art (11150 East Boulevard) through February 29. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (closed Mondays). Admission is free. Call 216-421-7340 for more information.

Monday, December 29

When Galaxies Collide has plenty of pants-soiling potential. Admit it: Nothing's scarier than the prospect of our big, beautiful solar system smashing into an even huger one, sending the whole space-time continuum awry. Before you know it, we're side by side with one-eyed Martians and nine-legged Venusians, mining coal in some distant universe. The good news is, this planetarium show at the history museum is more fiction than fact. Astronomers at Case Western Reserve University have been busy looking into deep space and theorizing on what happens when galaxies bump into each other. Their computer-generated images are part of this nightmarish what-if? program. It's at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (1 Wade Oval Drive) through Wednesday. Hours are 2:30 p.m. today and tomorrow and 2:30, 7:45, and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Admission is $3 plus the museum's usual fee ($6.50 for adults, $3.50 for kids). Call 216-231-1177 for more info.

Tuesday, December 30

Today's Kids' Winter Challenge pits kids against nature as they gather clues (like tracks and stuff) that lead to critters and prizes. "It includes matching bark rubbing to a tree or making a small pizza out of a specific animal's diet," explains Peggy Jarrett, the naturalist leading the program. Participants are given instructions and maps, then set loose in the wild. Checkpoints keep 'em on the right trail, and each challenge is rewarded with a sticker or candy. "The focus is on letting kids learn about nature in winter in a fun, challenging way," Jarrett says. The Kids' Winter Challenge happens from 1 to 4 p.m. at Brecksville Nature Center (off Chippewa Creek Drive at Brecksville Reservation in Brecksville). Admission is free. Call 440-526-1012 for more information.

Wednesday, December 31

Wouldn't it totally suck if one of the Tarot readers at the Powerhouse Pub's Nostradamus New Year's Eve pulls the death card, proclaiming that 2004 just ain't gonna be your year? This joy and more await at tonight's fete. It's got all the New Year's Eve standard features -- open bar, hors d'oeuvres, dancing, DJ, and champagne toast at midnight -- in addition to astrologers, palm readers, clairvoyants, and other kinda-creepy folk. It's the only gig in town that can tell you whether those New Year's resolutions are worth your time. It takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Powerhouse Pub, 2000 Sycamore Street. Tickets are $75. Call 216-861-4982 for more info.

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