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The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Sous-titres français) [Import]
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Oscar(r) winner Tommy Lee Jones (Best Supporting Actor, The Fugitive, 1993) directs and stars in this poetic and striking modern-day Western. Peter Perkins (Jones) is a veteran cowboy who embodies the values of the old west, living in a small Texas town bordering the U.S. and Mexico. He hires Melquiades Estrada as a ranch hand and quickly befriends the man. But when Estrada is gunned down under mysterious circumstances, Perkins takes justice into his own hands and kidnaps a trigger-happy border patrolman (Barry Pepper - Saving Private Ryan), forcing Perkins to unearth Estrada's body and accompany Perkins on horseback on the long and treacherous journey through the frontier mountains and back roads of Mexico to bring his friend's body home.
One of the most acclaimed films of 2005, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada marks the assured and worldly-wise directorial debut of veteran actor Tommy Lee Jones. While the majority of critics and Oscar®-voters heaped praise upon the "gay cowboy" breakthrough of Brokeback Mountain, Jones delivered this equally resonant, elegiac study of male friendship in a Western setting, crafting a flawless parable of borderline existence on the border of Texas and Mexico. It is there, amidst some of the most beautifully bleak landscapes in recent American film, that Jones and screenwriter Guillermo Arriga (Amores Perros, 21 Grams) set their existential quest for meaning, focusing on the honor-bound commitment of Texas ranch foreman Pete (played by Jones with a heavy heart and deep moral conviction) to return the body of illegal Mexican immigrant ranch-hand Melquiades Estrada (played in flashback scenes by Julio Cedillo) to his preferred resting place in the Mexican wilderness. Estrada had been accidentally shot by Mike (Barry Pepper), a newly-arrived U.S. border patrolman, and Pete forces Mike to participate in his cross-country ritual of duty--a voyage of revenge and redemption that will change both men forever, and bring some semblance of meaning to the senseless death of Pete's good friend. In triumphant collaboration with cinematographer Chris Menges, Jones carefully instills his superior cast (including Dwight Yoakam, January Jones, and Melissa Leo) with the slow, desperate rhythms of lives on the border (of Texas and Mexico, and life and death), prompting many critics to draw praiseworthy comparisons to Sam Peckinpah's thematically similar 1974 drama Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and the exquisite absurdities of Luis Bunuel. Whatever your own reaction might be, Three Burials is not a film to view or respond to lightly; there's humor and more than a bit of madness to this great, inquisitive film, but Jones is looking deeply into the soul of humankind, and he dares you to draw your own conclusions about the journey Pete and Mike have taken. --Jeff Shannon
Oscar® winner Tommy Lee Jones (Best Supporting Actor, The Fugitive, 1993) directs and stars in this poetic and striking modern-day Western. Peter Perkins (Jones) is a veteran cowboy who embodies the values of the old west, living in a small Texas town bordering the U.S. and Mexico. He hires Melquiades Estrada as a ranch hand and quickly befriends the man. But when Estrada is gunned down under mysterious circumstances, Perkins takes justice into his own hands and kidnaps a trigger-happy border patrolman (Barry Pepper - Saving Private Ryan), forcing Perkins to unearth Estrada's body and accompany Perkins on horseback on the long and treacherous journey through the frontier mountains and back roads of Mexico to bring his friend's body home.
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Jones plays Pete Perkins, who runs a small cattle ranch and has hired Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cedillo), an illegal immigrant from Mexico, to work with him. When Melquiades is killed and the local sheriff (Dwight Yoakam) refuses to do anything about it, Pete takes care of matters himself. He finds out that a young Border Patrol agent, Mike Norton (Barry Pepper), killed Melquiades, Pete captures him. Norton had buried Melquiades to hide the crime and then the body was buried a second time. Now Pete makes Norton did up the body of the man he killed, and then they head off on horses to Mexico so that Pete's friend can be returned to his family and buried in the town of Jimenez south of the Border.
Essentially, then, you have three burials and a trip as the four key sections of the film. "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" is not a suspense film, where we wonder if Pete is going to be able to carry off his plans. There are obstacles, but his success is never in doubt. Pete is very much from the worldly school where a man does what a man has to do, and despite what the situation might force him to do we never forget that the corpse is the body of his friend.Read more ›
At its heart, the movie is about a friendship between two men, who are from different countries but develop a strong emotional intimacy because of their shared ethos and love of the land. However, the story develops into one that parallels The Odyssey in terms of the journey undertaken (even Tommy Lee Jones alludes to one character as "The Oracle" in the director's commentary), and it evokes biblical themes of grace and redemption.
Motifs that combine both the absurd and the divine permeate this movie. There are moments that make you laugh aloud and cringe at the same time. At center is the corpse of Melquiades Estrada, who plays an ever-present role in providing both serious and comic scenarios.
Tommy Lee Jones is phenomenal in this movie. For the most part, he says very little. He's just a man who wants to do the right thing and whose code of values is very straightforward. Barry Pepper does a great job of playing a man who might eventually understand the meaning of redemption. The relationship between Jones and Pepper is one that is layered and complex. A palpable tension and anxiety exists as they enter into desolate and dangerous landscapes. What exactly will revenge entail? And do things are actually as they appear? More questions than answers actually arise as the journey continues.
This movie is GREAT. I love the Western genre, and this is one of the very best in recent memory.
Although this movie may have fallen through the cracks with the public, it is a gem. Without giving too much away, within its commentary on how the whole situation along the US-Mexico border is deranged (sorry, but there's no other word for the waste of money and manpower used to hunt down poor people) is a story of honor, redemption and forgiveness.
Barry Pepper is also proving to be an immensely talented actor (go rent "61") and the addition of Betty Draper from "Mad Men" (January Jones) is a bonus.
The cinematography captures the feel of the Texas-Mexico borderlands from the rundown sleepy old towns to the open plains and valleys. Also, the director (a Mr. Jones himself) is smart enough to let the camera do all the legwork and doesn't overload the movie with unnecessary dialogue. These actors actually sound like people from this part of the world where words are only used when necessary and they actually carry meaning (take note, Hollywood, less is more!). Plus you get to hear Tommy Lee Jones speak quite a bit of Spanish in this one and yes, folks, he sounds like a Mexican Tommy Lee Jones with that same laconic way of speaking.
The DVD has nothing extra bar a commentary track with Tommy Lee Jones, Januray Jones and Dwight Jones...I mean, Dwight Yoakum who plays a redneck sheriff in the flick.
If you want to see Tommy Lee Jones in a good movie try "The Fugitive" (1993). Or if you really like campy then try "Volcano" (1997).