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short takes (2)

Joseph Papp's Public Theater in New York continues to dig up fascinating films that wouldl otherwise escape the attention of almost everyone. A few weeks back, it was valuable but usually overlooked movies by Luchino Visconti ("Bellissima") and Michelangelo Antonioni ("The Lady without Camillas"). More recently it was Doomed Love, a 4 1/4-hour epic by Portugese director Manoel de Oliveira. Meticulously unfolding the thwarted romance of a young 19th-century couple, it is Dickensian in its detail and Dostoevskian in its scope -- a novel of the acreen relishing its literary roots with a fervor that's downright radical (an unusual circumstance in this day and age, when "avant-garde" film customarily relegates words to the bottom of the cinematic totem pole). There's nothing remotely commercial about "Doomed Love," so don't look for it at your neighborhood theater. But it will likely crop up repeatedly on the more adventurous "experimental" circuit in years to come