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by Peter Knegt
August 3, 2011 9:09 AM
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Critical Consensus: Epic "Mysteries of Lisbon" Is The Pick of The Week

Legendary director Raoul Ruiz gives audiences the first film of his sixth decade of filmmaking with "Mysteries of Lisbon," which topped four other specialty openers this weekend to be the criticWIRE pick of the week. An adaptation of a famous 19th-century novel by Portuguese author Camilo Castelo Branco, the film focuses on the child of an ill-fated romance between two aristocrats who are forbidden to marry. Many thought "Lisbon" would be Ruiz's final film, but thankfully surgery for liver cancer saved his life.

Averaging an A- from 16 critics, "Lisbon" topped four films with solid B averages: "Bellflower," "Gun Hill Road," "Magic Trip" and "The Whistleblower." Check out indieWIRE critic Eric Kohn's take on the weekend's offerings below:

With the exception of the Rachel Weisz vehicle "The Whistleblower," all of this week's specialty releases deal in some fashion with men in search of a purpose. The most overt example, "Bellflower," takes the libido-fueled fantasy of a fancy car and flame throwers into expressive dramatic territory. The dreamlike story of two "Mad Max" enthusiasts, "Bellflower" engagingly follows their romantic pursuits and then takes their post-apocalypse fetishes into nightmare territory. Still, these carefree slackers don't face nearly the same level of gender challenges that the teen transsexual star of "Gun Hill Road," played by Harmony Santana in an acclaimed performance, embodies with fascinating exactitude. That's a level of social estrangement that even the young orphan in Raul Ruiz's "Mysteries of Lisbon," awash in a search for his origin story that lasts four-and-half-hours on screen, doesn't have to face.

Still, their frustrations have a kinship in that they all feel somewhat alone. In fact, the only man in this pile of new releases who has found a way to keep himself happy is Ken Kesey, the subject of Alex Gibney and Alison Elwood's "Magic Trip." Chances are strong, however, that dropping acid can't solve any of the dark human mysteries of "Lisbon," "Bellflower" and "Gun Hill Road" combined.

Find links below for more extensive takes on "Mysteries of Lisbon," "Bellflower," "Gun Hill Road," "The Whistleblower" and "Magic Trip." Also offered is the top 10 criticWIRE scores for films already in theaters, which is currently topped by Steve James' "The Interrupters." Note that only films with four or more grades have their averages included.

iW Film Calendar & criticWIRE:
criticWIRE | Opening this week | Opening this month | All Films A - Z

criticWIRE: Films Opening This Week
NOTE: The averages listed here are current as of the publishing of this article. They are subject to change as new grades come in, and will be updated in next week's edition of this article.

Mysteries of Lisbon (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

Bellflower (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Gun Hill Road (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Magic Trip (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

The Whistleblower (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

criticWIRE: 10 Best Bets Already In Theaters

1. The Interrupters (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

2. Attack The Block (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

3. Project Nim (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

4. Conan O'Brien Can't Stop (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

5. Page One (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

6. Buck (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

7. Terri (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

8. The Guard (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

9. The Trip (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

10. Tabloid (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Previous Picks of the Week:
July 26: Steve James' "The Interrupters"
July 20: Mike Cahill's "Another Earth"
July 13: Errol Morris' "Tabloid"
July 6: James Marsh's "Project Nim"
June 29: Azazel Jacobs' "Terri"
June 22: Rodman Fletcher's "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop"
June 15: Andrew Rossi's "Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times"
June 8: Michael Winterbottom's "The Trip"
June 1: Richard Ayoade's "Submarine"
May 25: Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life"
May 18: Woody Allen's "Midnight In Paris"
May 11: Lu Chaun's "City of Life and Death"
May 4: Koji Wakamatsu's "Caterpillar"
April 27: Clio Barnard's "The Arbor"
April 20: Denis Villeneuve's "Incendies"
April 13: Janus Metz's "Armadillo"
April 6: Kelly Reichardt's "Meek's Cutoff"
March 30: Michaelangelo Frammartino's "Le Quattro Volte"