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When Massimo Troisi appeared as the title character in 1994’s Il Postino, few American filmgoers knew that the Italian actor had been directing, co-writing, and starring in romantic comedies for almost 15 years. Suffering from the heart ailment that killed him shortly after Il Postino wrapped, Troisi looked particularly vulnerable in that film. But even in his more robust early days, the actor specialized in men confounded by love. This character first came to the big screen in his 1981 directorial debut, I’m Starting From Three. Troisi plays Gaetano, who leaves Naples for Florence; there’s a bit of north-south culture clash, but most of the friction is between Gaetano and his new girlfriend, who proposes an open relationship. In I Thought It Was Love (pictured), Troisi is a Naples restaurateur who’s happy with his beautiful fiancée— until the wedding date looms. Set in the 1920s, The Ways of the Lord Are Limited is the tale of a barber whose legs suddenly stop working after his girlfriend leaves him. Also included is the series is Nothing Left to Do but Cry, a historical farce Troisi made in collaboration with the dreaded Roberto Benigni. The series runs through Wednesday, July 6 (see Showtimes for a weekly schedule), at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700.