Monday, March 20, 2006

The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada

Tommy Lee Jones, 2005, USA/France (121 mins)
Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Dwight Yoakum,

Taking the law into his own hands, modern-day cowboy Pete Perkins (Jones) is on a mission to see his murdered best friend buried in Mexico, and the killer made to understand the extent of the crime. Texan Tommy Lee Jones and Mexican screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga draw on both themes and the Tex-Mex border locations of director Sam Peckinpah, to reclaim the Western from those damn-fool post-modern revisionists, while making a few sly revisions of their own. Grounded in a credible vision of dead-end, small towns, and of lives lived in quiet desperation on both sides of the border, the film offers a stark parable of revenge and redemption. Dripping with grim humour, moral ambiguity, and scenes of Gothic grotesquery, it’s also beautifully shot by Chris Menges, and woundingly well-acted. Yes, this is the real thing at last. John Wayne and Randolph Scott can rest easy. The Western is back. Steve Balshaw

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