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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada


Don't worry, they'll get him buried correctly one of these times.


I saw a number of lower-budget films this weekend, but mostly they aspired to be like their older, richer cousins. Night Watch and eXistenZ emulated, but sadly couldn't quite pull off, the established Hollywood style. Three Burials on the other hand, is an absolute denouncement. Tommy Lee Jones finally gets his chance to direct, and apparently wanted to do things a bit differently. I was reminded of the directorial works of Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford. I guess working within the system for so long makes one hunger to do something more meaningful when given license.

You would think some focus groups would have warned him against using the name "Melquiades" in the title. Half of America can't pronounce it (which means half of America won't go see it.) Similarly, you'd think they would wait on the release of such a powerful drama in order to garner more Oscar votes. I left feeling like this film is clearly better than any movie that's currently under consideration for the best picture award for 2005, but I'm sure people will forget by next year's Academy Awards. My hope is that Jones got that feedback and did whatever he wanted to do anyway.

Beyond superficial differences, Three Burials diverges from the mainstream because it is not a typical revenge film. Though Barry Pepper's character is despicable through the first half of the film, we aren't led to hate him, and we're certainly not given the "reward" of seeing him blown in half by an angry shotgun. (Sorry Walter and Steve.) Instead, we're given the reward of seeing him cry, of seeing a plausible redemption... a cinematic feat much more difficult to achieve.

And finally, the cinematography and the acting are fantastic. Pepper should be nominated for best actor, Melissa Leo for supporting actress, and Dwight Yoakum deserves mention for his continuing greatness as a character actor.

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4 Comments:

At 2/28/2006 12:46:00 PM, Blogger wheylona said...

Finally I saw a film before everyone else! I'm somewhat torn, because I've recently been enjoying the experience seeing films with little to no prior knowledge, but at the same time this film was such a pleasure that I want to say something. So, I'll say it here and leave my own blog pure! ;-)

I don't have much to add to what you said, Johnbai, but one thing I quite enjoyed were the Quixote parallels--only roughly drawn and twisted to fit the context, obviously, but still there: a man with an unshakable mission on a quest that seems reasonable but over times becomes more fleeting and possibly insane, with a sidekick (unwilling in this case) to try to keep the man grounded. That's about as far as it goes, but I was really struck and tickled by it.

 
At 2/28/2006 02:23:00 PM, Blogger wheylona said...

Sorry, forgot to add: it's Melissa Leo. And she was great, showing that 45 y.o. (plus) women can be as sexy as all get out. Hubba hubba!

 
At 2/28/2006 08:43:00 PM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

Thanks for the edit... I got it fixed... and nice pick up on the Don Quixote theme... I hadn't considered that before.

 
At 2/28/2006 08:44:00 PM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

Oh, and Melissa Leo is definitely quite a MILF.

 

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