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Director: Jean-Luc Godard. With Judith Lerner, Ramos Garcia, Olga Brodsky, Jean-Luc Godard. (79 min.)

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Sterritt **** Godard's latest masterpiece takes a symbolic journey starting in hell, represented by modern war; moving to purgatory, set in Sarajevo, where a Jewish journalist hopes to confirm the possibilities of peace and reconciliation; and ending in paradise, a chunk of Swiss countryside with a varied population. Visually sublime and intellectually dense, this is one of the extremely rare movies that prove cinema can be as complex and profound as the very greatest art works in any form. The title means "Our Music." In English, French, and Spanish, with subtitles

The Polar Express (G)

Director: Robert Zemeckis. With voices of Tom Hanks, Nona Gaye, Eddie Deezen, Peter Scolari. (100 min.)

Sterritt ** On its way to the North Pole, a magical train pauses on Christmas Eve to pick up kids who need more Christmas cheer. The movie is technically impressive, using high-tech "capture" methods that transform live action into animation. The story is too implausible even for a fantasy, though, and its message of "belief" refers entirely to yuletide gifts and decorations, never so much as nodding to the holiday's religious meanings.

Staff *** Charming, fantasically animated, holiday-spirited.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: 1 mild expression. Drugs: None.

Ray (PG-13)

Director: Taylor Hackford. With Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell, Regina King. (152 min.)

Sterritt *** Fictionalized biography of Ray Charles, the late singer, pianist, and songwriter. Foxx is just about perfect, allowing us to identify and empathize with Charles even as we experience his failings, including drug addiction that threatened to sabotage his career before he kicked the habit in the 1960s. Fine acting and magnificent music compensate for a schematic story line.

Sex/Nudity: 7 instances. Violence: 6 instances. Profanity: 76 mild expressions. Drugs: 52 instances, some with illegal substances.

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (PG)

Directors: Sherm Cohen, Stephen Hillenburg, Mark Osborne. With voices of Tom Kenny, Alec Baldwin, Bill Fagerbakke, Jeffrey Tambor. (87 min.)

Sterritt **** Our absorbent hero and his starfish pal leave Bikini Bottom for sinister Shell City on a mission to retrieve King Neptune's stolen crown and save wrongly accused Mr. Krabs in the process. Imagine a Jerry Lewis movie designed by Salvador Dalí and you'll have some idea what this animation is like.

Sex/Nudity: 1 mild instance of innuendo. Violence: 24 cartoonish instances Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 instances of drinking.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (PG)

Director: Alfonso Cuarón. With Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson. (142 min.)

Staff *** Harry and his Hogwarts classmates have matured - and so has the series, of which this film is the third and best. The atmosphere is murkier and the plot more complex. Sirius Black has escaped from wizards' prison with plans to murder Harry. Alarmed, Hogwarts staff recruit Dementors to guard the school, but these wraiths are almost worse than any evil they could keep at bay. And they prove adept at unhinging our hero. Potter fans will be happy that this time around Hermione is less whiny, Harry more brooding, and Ron is still as hapless as ever. The DVD's extras feel tacked on, and the cast interviews are of interest only to see Hagrid out of costume. By April Austin