A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
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THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA
2005 - Tommy Lee Jones - United States / France
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The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is a film that is equally haunting, poetic, and funny. In his directorial debut Tommy Lee Jones skillfully uses standard genre cliches as well as his influences (most notably being Sam Peckinpah) to his advantage, resulting in a film that is oddly original and ironic as well as violent and political. It is also very funny (in a dark way), particularly because of the way Jones sort of morphs the western genre standards. Like writer Guillermo Arriaga's previous films, The Three of Melquiades Estrada is made with a non-linear structure and the primary focus is on three lead characters (none of whom would represent the everyday "hero" of the classic Westerns). The film takes with it a sense of redemption for each of these flawed characters but ultimately that is not the motivation. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is also a film of friendship, honor, masculinity, culture, and death. Above all the film is a journey to capture these themes as well as a journey for meaning and for the human body and souls connection with land and with death. This is a atmospheric film of feeling, and it's beautifully captured through Chris Menges' sweeping CinemaScope photography. Jones performance as the grief-stricken Pete Perkins is flawless, and probably the finest of his career. But it is his direction that is most unforgettable here. The Three Burials is a moving, haunting, humorous, and rather poetic film experience that takes the viewer on a memorable emotional journey.
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