Bring me the body of Melquiades Estrada (by MacAindrais)
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada 2005 ****Tommy Lee Jones steps up to the plate and takes a big first swing with 'Three Burials.' This is a movie that captures the old Peckinpah-esquire style of the rugged west and combines wonderfully with Guillermo Arriaga's moody and alienated script. This is a film that could have took a political mood and dealt with the issues of border security and the like, but it smartly refrains from doing so and instead focuses sharply on the heart of society itself - people. Tommy Lee Jones plays Pete, a rancher who has few friends with his <more>
closest friends being a woman from town, and a man from Mexico. The woman is the wife of a local diner owner, Rachael Melissa Leo . She also happens to be extremely bored and engages in extramarital affairs. Pete loves her, but she loves her husband. And possibly the sheriff, and possibly Pete. The other emotional connection in Pete's life, the Mexican, is Melquiades Estrada Julio Cedillo , an illegal immigrant who finds work and friendship with Pete. Pete loves him like a son, or a brother, or friend, or a combination of all three. Barry Pepper plays Mike, the new border patrolman in town. He is brutal. Perhaps by nature, or not. He is bored; he passes the time sitting outside of his jeep looking at dirty mags. His wife, Lou Ann January Jones , is also bored. She feels isolated and separated from her husband. She spends her time at the local diner and befriends Rachael. While she sits at home, her husband, the rookie border patrolman, makes a stupid mistake and tries in vain to hide it. The whole town is bored, even the police and the border guards. They find out, the police find out, and in a small town people talk, but more importantly people listen because they have nothing else to do. Pete finds out about Mike's mistake and sets out to carry out Mel's last wishes and bury him in his home town back in Mexico. The story has its characters and connects them in ways that we don't always suspect they will connect. No one is a cardboard cut out. Even better, no one is simple. Each character is complex and has their own distinct feelings. A major theme is that of alienation. The characters are alienated not only from each other, but from themselves as well. Earlier i stated that he film took the right road and avoids making a blatant political message. The movie still carries a message though. It is a commentary on life and society. The story has parallels to Peckinpah's 'Bring me the Head of Alfedo Garcia.' It has a very Peckinpah style, and features a man who makes a long journey with a dead body. He cares for it and tries to preserve it, even talks to the body sometimes. The film has some great cinematography as well, and the score suits it perfectly. The acting is wonderful, and I have to say that Tommy Lee Jones has rarely ever been better than he is here. Barry Pepper also gives a solid performance. This is Tommy Lee Jones first directing credit in major film and he knocks this one out of the park. Jones clearly has a strong control of his movie and this should go down in history as one of those rare first time wonders. 4/4
As if we were being thrown smack in the middle of a Cormac McCarthy novel, >>Three Burials<< powerfully serves up the borderlands milieu through its bipolar texture and tone: both graphic and dreamy, tragic and comical. That fusion is accented by memorable characters and age-old themes: immigration and the Rio Grande; Spanish and English and Spanglish; violence and personal relationships; coyotes and border patrol; a tired waitress with a Chekhovian longing and an inept sheriff with nervous problems; a young, blonde wife terribly out of place, and an aging, rugged cowboy firmly in <more>
place >>Ride the High Country<<, anyone? . Finally, the film centers on a classically picaresque story of personality development through trials and tribulations: Pete Tommy Lee Jones , on a flashback-laden quest for his own way of justice, dragging along the rapidly disintegrating corpse of his friend, brings about the personal journey of a trigger-happy, macho-racist border patrol officer played by Barry Pepper from guilt to redemption... Wonderfully borderlands, comparable to >>Lone Star<<. Watch it.
This movie not only has some of the best acting I've seen in a while; but also it features a full cast of interesting characters - from the protagonists to random encounters, each one seems... to exist somewhere beyond the screen. Top notch photography, emotionally wrenching, dealing with complex issues of today's society and depicting everything unashamedly, this movie is simply awesome. Every little detail seems to have been worked at, pondered over and hammered out until it was just perfect. Every single character is memorable. Every single shot is beautiful. I could simply find no <more>
flaws with it. While some may find the subject of the movie distasteful, I found the manner in which it is approached to be just perfect. There are of course clichés - these are inevitable. But the attention to detail brings this movie to such heights of perfection that you cannot help but twist your face into a satisfying grin while the movie is on, and for much time afterwards.
And like all extraordinary movies, this is not for everyone. For one, it requires the viewer to work at keeping track of the past, present and future and for another it requires laughter where humour isn't normally a response: as in red ants crawling all over a decaying corpse.The plot is loosely based on a true story but the genius is in bringing the writer Guillermo Arriaga 21 grams, Amores Perros and freshly hatched director/talented actor, Tommy Lee Jones together in creating this cross-border cross-emotions film which goes in so many different directions. Barry Pepper, who plays the <more>
hapless, emotionless Border Patroller, Mike Norton, has to be commended on a truly outstanding performance.The story begins in a bleak Texan town close to the Mexican border and centres on the friendship between a cattleman, Pete, played by Tommy Lee Jones, and his ranch hand, Melquiadas, in a small but significant role played by Julio Cedillo. It also focuses on the women in the town, the wife of the restaurant owner and the wife of Mike.In the way of small towns, everyone is connected - some more subtly than others. The movie takes an unexpected turn with the killing of Melquiadas, a pointless, stupid killing. Thus is the first burial: Melquiadas being chewed up by a coyote on the further reaches of the ranch.The second burial comes after the autopsy and a closed file. Pete realizes his friend is not going to be avenged by the law and decides to enact his own revenge and honour a promise he made his friend - and bring him back to his wife and family in Mexico.And thus begins the journey of the third burial as Pete brings Mike to justice by having him dig up the body of his friend and accompany him to Mexico, under duress, and bring Mel home to a proper family burial. The journey, as it turns out, is not about revenge at all but about the subtle emotional layering of the main characters: their core loneliness and isolation. And enough said about the plot.Marvellously done, exquisite scenery, terrific music, great supporting players. Dialogue a little difficult to hear at times, otherwise it would be have been a higher rating. As it is: 9 out of 10. A see-again. Bravo, Tommy and cast and crew.
A Vivid Personnification of Border Culture and Clashes (by noralee)
"The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" personifies border issues between Texas and Mexico through the iconography of the obsessed man in the West genre, such as "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre", "Lone Star", and Tommy Lee Jones' own performance in "Lonesome Dove". The director/star brings his own powerful movie images with him as much as Clint Eastwood does, including from "The Fugitive" and his craggy face is flintily expressive. We absolutely believe that "Pete Perkins" would undertake a monomaniacal, possibly crazy, <more>
odyssey for his own frontier justice. The stark environs are as commanding as the very strong actors, with each set off in sun-blinded cinematography by Chris Menges. Small town life in Texas is portrayed as evocatively as in "Last Picture Show", but those teens have grown up into bored and lonely adults with secrets a maturely vamping waitress Melissa Leo and a bit too foolish sheriff Dwight Yoakam and the assumption that things will never change. "We were popular in high school" pouts the surprisingly good January Jones about her now border patrol officer husband a bit stereotypical square-jawed bully Barry Pepper who is only given some humanity towards the end .It takes a few scenes to adjust to the time-cutting back and forth. But it's far less than in scripter Guillermo Arriaga's "21 Grams" or "Amores Perros", and the shifts are clearly related to explaining characters' point-of-view, showing us what prejudices, miscommunications and misunderstandings brought each character to a confrontation and shattered lives. While there are almost as many coincidences of people crossing paths as in "Crash", they are used to illustrate how differently each character is perceived on the other side of the Rio Grande, where one becomes "the Mexican" in the U.S. and the other "the gringo" in Mexico, though, as has been satirized in several other movies, everyone seems to watch the same tele novella soap opera.Framed by titles setting each burial as a chapter heading, this is mostly a road movie brimming with ironies and colorful personalities, including Levon Helm as a blind guy who seems as dangerously trusting as the girl in the "Frankenstein" classic. Left unresolved is if, as one character says, each is "beyond redemption," if that's what Jones's screen-dominating character is seeking.There are bizarre images and quick scenes of graphic violence.The music selections are marvelously representative of the border culture, from country Merle Haggard to Hank Williams, Jr., Tex Mex Augie Meyers, to the bi-lingual Freddy Fender and Flaco Jimenez. This and "Brokeback Mountain" are vividly demonstrating that cowboy movies can still resonate with new insights and passion.
Wait a minute, you mean Mexicans are people?! (by brian_r_wright)
You want to understand the real meaning of immigration control? Then I suggest you check out this movie and watch it multiple times. A few weeks ago I reviewed The Visitor, an exquisite dramatic statement on the unique process the federal government as any other leviathan-state uses to crush citizens of Earth who happen to find themselves inside US boundaries with defective paperwork. In that Oscar-worthy movie, the unfortunate paper-deficient world citizen was from the Middle East. In Three Burials, our victim is a 'border'-crosser from the south....For my complete review of this <more>
movie and for other movie and book reviews, please visit my site TheCoffeeCoaster.com.Brian Wright Copyright 2009
Sad and sometimes quirky journey about friendship, loss and regret (by IAN-Cinemaniac)
I just had the pleasure of seeing this wholly original modern-day American western. Just when you think you have this film's plot pigeon holed it takes you in a different direction. THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA is in part a revenge story, but it's also much more than that. There are no one dimensional characters. As much as you want to hate Barry Pepper's numbed border patrol officer, you can't help but feel sorry for him. And Tommy Lee Jones' Pete will break your heart. He and Pepper have never been better and Jones' direction is natural and subtle. My only <more>
problem with the film was sometimes it got a little too quirky for its own good. But for the most part I believed every moment and really cared for these lost characters. It's one of those films that really leaves you thinking about a lot of stuff, from mortality and loss to the very real problems of racism and inhumanity. It's never preachy or self aware and isn't out to impress, it's just telling a story. I highly recommend this movie. It's by far one of the best films I've seen recently.
"The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" is a surprise. Directed by Tommy Lee Jones, marking his first time behind the camera, with a screen play by Guillermo Arriaga, this is a film that tells a story about an murder in a troubled border area between the US and Mexico. The film is loosely based on a true story that happened in that part of the country some years ago.Pete Perkins is a decent man. When his ranch hand is killed under mysterious circumstances, Pete jumps into action. Pete wants to take his friend, Melquiades Estrada, across the border to Mexico to make sure he <more>
receives the proper burial he deserves. A coyote has lead to the first burial site and the following investigation involves the local sheriff, Belmont, but Pete will have none of that.Pete's investigation leads him to the corrupt border guard Mike Norton. Perkins captures the man and with the body strapped to a horse and his captive in another, Pete begins the long journey to Mexico. He passes the hot land between the two countries in a voyage that will bring Melquiades to his home.The separate narratives at the beginning of the film are somehow confusing and the viewer is advised to pay close attention to it since it has multiple stories going on at a time when we don't know much of what is happening. We get to meet the cruel Norton and his bored wife Lou Ann. It also serve as the way to tell us how Pete and Norton meet.Tommy Lee Jones, with his rugged looks, brings a tremendous presence to his own film. Mr. Jones is a decent man who can't stand the injustice his hired hand suffered as he delves into solving the mystery of Melquiades' death. Barry Pepper is quite good as the nasty Mike Norton, a man who gets much more than what he bargained for. Dwight Yoakam, January Jones and Melissa Leo are seen in minor roles. Julio Cedillo plays the dead man, Melquiades Estrada.Tommy Lee Jones is blessed to be working on his first venture with the great cinematographer Chris Menges. Mr. Menges' take on the scenery is one of the best things in the film. The musical score by Marco Beltrami is also another asset. The editing of Roberto Silvi sets the tone for the early part of the movie."The Three Deaths of Melquiades Estrada" shows us a mature Tommy Lee Jones who has learned his lesson well in front of the camera. Now, working behind, as well as directing himself and his amazing cast, he shows a humongous talent that ought to be seen in future ventures.
Ay, carramba! A diablo of a marketing challenge: a bilingual movie, with an impossible-to-remember title, a story of white trash, Mexican wetbacks that's the film's language , cruel Border Patrol "cowboys," and Tommy Lee Jones as the director and the uniquely memorable lead character... and a film that's one of the year's best."The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" opens with a somewhat confusing sequence of flashbacks, and for the first half hour, you wish you were watching something more "orderly," but you'll be hooked anyway. For the <more>
next hour and a half, however, there is a crescendo of images and situations hitting the viewer over the head, amazing and moving.Taking the corpse of a friend - and his very much alive killer - back to Mexico for a "proper burial" and to mete out justice, Jones' voyage is a quirky, epic adventure, based on the brilliant writing of Guillermo Arriaga of "21 Grams" , and filmed to perfection by Chris Menges of "The Killing Fields" and "The Mission" .Besides Jones who won the 2005 Cannes Festival best actor award for this , "3 Burials" features fabulous performances by Barry Pepper "25 Hours" , Julio Cedillo, and a large group of remarkable supporting actors on both sides of the border.Jones says something in the production notes that could sound arrogant or affected... except that it's true: "Some visual influences have been the kabuki theater, the art of Donald Judd and Dan Flavin, and the films of Akira Kurasawa, Sam Peckinpah, and Jean-Luc Godard." Amen.