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By Ray Pride

MARCH 2, 1998:  Wim Wenders' 1994 bagatelle opens with one of the richest five minutes of recent movies -- a montage of shots seen through a windshield while driving across Europe, from Germany to Lisbon, accompanied by bursts of music on the radio. The rest of the movie is gorgeous, but likely to appeal to an even smaller circle of Wenders aficionados than even his recent "End of Violence." "Lisbon Story" is a small film among many made to commemorate the first century of cinema, and its inertia dulls even the marvelous interior and exterior architecture traversed by the camera. Wenders recycles his Philip Winter character from "Until the End of the World," with Rudiger Vogler as a sound man who travels to Lisbon to await instructions from filmmaker Friedrich Monroe (Patrick Bachau, repeating from "The State of Things"). There's much waiting and strained comedy amid the waiting, evoking some of the mood of his "Kings of the Road," but there are also a couple of scenes where the camera is content to rest, watch and listen, like Winter, as the Portuguese fado singers Madredeus rehearse several magical songs. Nonagenarian filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira is also on hand to philosophize. (Ray Pride)

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