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" STARRING MORITZ BLEIBTREU "

Moritz Bleibtreu made an impression with his performance in Tom Tykwerís breakthrough hit Lola rennt/Run Lola Run (1998), though overshadowed by Franka Potenteís frenetic turn in the title role. Nonetheless, he had something: a moody intensity, a dry wit, a protean face: at times he shows the hooded-eyed, pouty-lipped menace of ex-Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte; at other times he looks like Tom Hanks.

The Museum of Fine Arts and the Goethe Institut-Boston are presenting a seven-film retrospective of this appealing talent, "Starring Moritz Bleibtreu," and it seems odd that two of the first films screened are named after pizzerias, involve drugs, and are buddy films that miscast the actor.

The American stoner comedy makes an uneasy German transition in Christian Zübertís Lammbock (2001; 120 minutes; screens January 31 at 4 p.m.). Thatís the name of the pizza delivery service cooked up by pals Stefan (an insipid Lukas Gregorowicz) and Kai (Bleibtreu, bringing an edge of anarchy to a goofball stereotype), and the gimmick is that among the extra toppings you can order is a lid of cannabis. It brings in enough money for Stefan to dither away at law school to please his father, a judge, and for Kai to waste time philosophizing about such things as why Erika Eleniak left Baywatch. Some amusing moments ó Stefan, for example, becomes black-and- white when stoned, and a drunken sex scene that outdoes anything in American Pie for its taboo factor. But in general Lammbock remains tepidly derivative of Tarantino and Kevin Smith (there are a couple of characters who are ringers for Jay and Silent Bob).

Turkish-German director Fatih Akin, on the other hand, shows talent in Solino (2002; 124 minutes; screens February 1 at 3:30 p.m.), an update of Rocco and His Brothers with some of Viscontiís grit and brio. Unfortunately, it begins with an open-air screening reminiscent of Cinema Paradiso, and that filmís soap-opera sentiment prevails. Bleibtreu plays Giancarlo, whoís jealous of his younger brother Luigi (an insipid Barnaby Metschurat). It only gets worse when they move from their little Apulian village of Solino to a soot pit in the Ruhr. Dad opens the pizzeria of the title, works Mom to the bone and scoffs at Luigiís dreams of becoming a filmmaker. Meanwhile, Giancarlo glowers in Cain-like misery. Maybe if Bleibtreu had played the artist striving for "ardor and passion," the film might have survived its overdone third act, and we could have caught a glimpse of him playing someone other than a loser.


Issue Date: January 30 - February 5, 2004
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