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Sterritt **** Based on Stanislaw Lem's brilliant novel, this towering 1972 allegory takes place mostly on a space station near a mysterious planet that may be a living, thinking entity capable of sending phantoms from the past into its visitors' minds. Some of the uncanny power surging through this visionary epic comes from changes Tarkovsky made to divert the attention of Soviet censors. The triumph was all his – along with his astonishing "Stalker," this stands with the greatest science-fiction movies ever made.

Stealing the Fire (Not rated)

Directors: John S. Friedman, Eric Nadler. With Karl-Heinz Schaab, Carl von Weizsacker, A.Q. Khan. (95 min.)

Sterritt *** This lucid documentary digs into Schaab's activities as a spy who provided a key German connection for Iraq's nuclear-weapons program, tracing a history of greed and deceit back to the 1930s. The film is timely, chilling, and grimly instructive. In English and German with English subtitles.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
Bowling for Columbine (R)

Director: Michael Moore. With Moore, Charlton Heston, Marilyn Manson. (120 min.)

Sterritt *** Contemporary film's most freewheeling documentary-maker turns his sights on the longtime American love affair with guns, including a living-room confrontation with National Rifle Association leader Heston and a discussion with goth-rocker Manson that's amazingly articulate. Moore turns the camera on himself too often for comfort, but he provides an eye-opening array of revelations.

Brown Sugar (PG-13)

Director: Rick Famuyiwa. With Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Mos Def, Nicole Ari Parker, Queen Latifah.

Staff ** She's an editor at a music magazine. He's a record-company executive. Dre and Sidney have been friends since childhood. They share a love of hip-hop and know every detail about each other's lives, but they have never been romantically involved. Dre ends up getting married and Sidney gets engaged, but did they make a mistake? It gets tiresome when Sidney uses hip-hop as an endless metaphor for her love for Dre. The movie has some funny moments, but it ultimately never crystallizes. By Lisa Parney Connors

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