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Monthly Movie guide

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LIQUID SKY - A flying saucer lands in downtown Manhattan, perversely attracted by the demented lives of the trendy ''new wave'' set, which it spies and preys on. Directed with great visual panache but a striking absence of moral perspective by Soviet emigre Slava Tsukerman, who seems equally repelled and attracted by the loud, lascivious ''punk'' behavior he paints with hair-raising, and surely exaggerated, detail. (Rated R; contains enormous amounts of sex, violence, and vulgar language.)

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MIRROR, THE - Autobiographical musings by the great Soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky, about a man recalling his childhood while dealing with a difficult time in his adult life. The family drama is slow and unmemorable, but the visionary dream sequences are overwhelmingly powerful. (Not rated.)

NIGHT OF THE SHOOTING STARS, THE - Amid the sad confusion of World War II, a group of Italian peasants flee the Germans who control their town and head into the countryside, looking for American soldiers and liberation. Directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani with their patented blend of realism, fantasy, and myth. (Rated R; contains some earthy details of peasant life.)

OCTOPUSSY - A tiny octopus is the symbol of a circus that gets mixed up in international intrigue, and the insignia of a smuggling ring that James Bond vanquishes after sundry close shaves. Directed by John Glen, who keeps the excitement level high for an hour or so, then lets the show slip into the doldrums. (Rated PG; contains vulgar language and sexual innuendo.)

PAULINE AT THE BEACH - On vacation, a teen-age girl watches two men court her older cousin, and tries to figure out why adults are so crafty and conniving about something as simple as affection. The third entry in the ''Comedies and Proverbs'' series of French director Eric Rohmer, who fills the picture with his usual blend of constant conversation, impeccable images, and sly intelligence. (Rated R; contains some nudity and sexual innuendo.)

RETURN OF THE JEDI - George Lucas's hit ''Star Wars'' series comes to a close , for the time being anyway, with another slam-bang struggle between the evil Empire and good guys Han Solo, Artoo-Detoo, See-Threepio, et al. While much of the action is perfunctory and overdone, director Richard Marquand has managed some thrilling sequences as well, and the family drama centering on Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader lends depth to the colorful proceedings. (Rated PG; contains much stylized violence and a little visual vulgarity.)

RETURN OF MARTIN GUERRE, THE - In the 16th century a prodigal son returns to his native village, but some of the neighbors think he's really an imposter, and they may be right. As directed by Daniel Vigne, the story is engaging much of the way and the performances are strong, but there's ultimately not much point to it all, except to let us know that forensics weren't very advanced 400 years ago. (Not rated; contains come violence and sex.)

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS - Reissue of the 1937 cartoon classic. Still a beauty, though like other Walt Disney animations, it puts most of its energy and imagination into the funny and scary parts, lapsing into dullness in the romantic and musical interludes. (Rated G.)

STAR CHAMBER, THE - Convinced that ''something's gone wrong with the law'' because so many criminals are set free on courtroom technicalities, a group of judges decides to ''do something'' about the situation. As directed by Peter Hyams, the first half attacks the American judicial system and posits a well-dressed version of vigilante justice as the solution, while the second half pallidly tells us we're better off as we are. (Rated R; contains vulgar language and violence.)

STAYING ALIVE - It's ''42nd Street'' with a disco beat in this sequel to ''Saturday Night Fever,'' being a rehash of the ancient story about a talented dancer yearning for a big break on Broadway. Directed by Sylvester Stallone, who pours lots of energy but little intelligence into scads of short, sweaty scenes more suited to the rhythms of cable-TV ''rock video'' than to the wide screen, (Rated PG; contains a little vulgar language and implied sex.)