THE MAN WHO COPIED (R, 124 minutes)
A 19-year-old man named Andre (Lazaro Ramos) is a photocopier in Porto Alegre, Brazil, who wants to do something about his life. He likes to make comic book illustrations. And he's also developing a peeping Tom infatuation with the 18-year-old Silvia (Leandra Leal), a salesgirl who lives across the street with her perverted father. It turns out Dad likes to spy on his daughter in the shower. Andre dreams of a life with Silvia but is too penniless to do anything about it. Eventually, with the help of a co-worker, he schemes to rob an armored truck that picks up money regularly in his neighborhood. Writer-director Jorge Furtado's movie doesn't do much to rise above its romantic stalker premise, although having a romantic character with no compunction about robbery is something of an original touch. Furtado tries to up the ante with an action-oriented, blackmail-fueled finale and enough hokey coincidences for several lifetimes. But ultimately, "The Man Who Copied" remains never better than fair to middling pleasant. It's emotionally uninvolving because we don't get much of a bead on Andre's character, or Silvia's. What seems to matter most to Furtado is his narratively convoluted scheme. Contains some violence, sexual situations and obscenity. In Portuguese with subtitles. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.
-- Desson Thomson
ROCK SCHOOL (R, 93 minutes)
Paul Green seems like every parent's worst nightmare. As a teacher, he berates his kids with profanity-and-spit-laced diatribes. In order to coax more effort out of his students, he at one point threatens to tell the story about how he lost his virginity, an episode, he says, marked by the smell of nicotine and whale oil. "Do you love Satan?," he asks one underperforming child. All of which is okay, I guess, considering that what he's teaching is rock 'n' roll, and not reading, writing and 'rithmetic. And considering that at least half of what he says is tongue in cheek, and that the results of his unorthodox academic methods are, to say the least, inspiring. Green, you see, is the proprietor of the Paul Green School of Rock Music, a Philadelphia after-school music education program for 9- to 17-year-old aspiring rock performers that is the subject of a fascinating and funny documentary by Don Argott. Sometimes described as a real-life version of "The School of Rock" (except for the fact that those kids could already play their instruments and that was a PG-13 movie), "Rock School" is half about Green, a foul-mouthed guitarist who turned to teaching after failing to make the big-time, and half about his young charges, some of whom will knock your socks off and some of whom are just plain adorable. Of particular note is C.J. Tywoniak, a pint-size guitar player whose scorching performance at the 2003 Zappanale, the annual German music festival honoring Frank Zappa, is the film's highlight. You can't argue with success, as they say, and the fact that Green's program is able to produce players like C.J., whose chops on "Inca Roads" not only wow the Zappanale audience but former Zappa band member Napoleon Murphy Brock, says a lot about the effectiveness of Green's tough-love pedagogy. It's funny. Green, who himself acts at times like an overgrown child, says that one of his goals is to give children a work ethic, to make them "not be children." But children, probably more so than adults, need some reassurance that they're not screw-ups. So the scenes of Green lavishing affection on his charges under the closing credits go a long way to rounding out this entertaining portrait of a volatile but effective educator. Contains drug references and torrents of obscenity. At the Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle, Landmark's Bethesda Row Cinema and the Cineplex Odeon Shirlington.
-- Michael O'Sullivan