Talk about the number one reason for Fort Collins to open up an independent theatre, or at least allow a little room for feats of amazingness to show for a month or two. If the Oscars allowed late-entries for the Best Movie, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay categories, this weekend's release of "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" would certainly stand a chance of taking them all. Unfortunately for us, however, it takes a nomination to even get an Indie flick into town, and that whole late-entry thing is simply wishful thinking on my part.
Tommy Lee Jones is both director and lead role as a small-time rancher in Southern Texas, Pete Perkins. When one of Pete's ranch hands and best friend is found shot to death and left to rot in the desert, the local authorities take it upon themselves to quickly bury the body in town. Pete, however, had previously made a vow with Melquides to never allow his body to be buried in America and makes different arrangements. Having found out Melquiades was gunned down by a border patrolmen in cold blood, Perkins takes it upon himself to kidnap the patroller, dig up the body and set off on a journey to give Melquiades his one last wish.
If this doesn't convince you to give Tommy Lee Jones another chance after such destructive behavior of "Men in Black 2" and "Man of the House," then he may as well give up now. The French seem to think he deserves it at least; they gave the man the award for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival. Another deserved shout-out belongs to the kidnapped border patrolman, played by the sharpshooter from "Saving Private Ryan," Barry Pepper. He does an amazing job of making you want to personally put an end to his life for a good portion of the flick. Never in my life have someone's actions both on the job and at home with his wife stirred up so much anger.
Not only did Jones take home the Cannes for best actor, but writer Guillermo Arriaga managed to snag the award for Best Screenplay. Having previously directed "21 Grams," Arriaga did a wonderful job of leaving the politics of the border patrol in the background and still portraying the whole immigration business from the perspective of a Mexican native.
Unless someone in the Fort wises up and brings this movie up from Denver, your only chance to see it in town is if by this time next year the Oscar gods remember Melquiades. Until then though, the 60 miles and 15 bucks for gas and a ticket is well worth the expense.
5 out of 5 ramheads