Monday, February 06, 2006

Three Funerals and a Quixotic Journey

I must confess I've always liked the biblically-sounding name 'Melquíades,' remembered from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's '100 Years of Solitude' as the ageless wandering gypsy that brings marvelous new inventions to the isolated town of Macondo. "Three Burials of Melquíades Estrada" takes places in the equally isolated landscape of a small, dusty town on the US-Mexican border, where Melquíades, an illegal Mexican worker, is accidentally gunned down by a brutish, angry border patrolman. This outrages the victim's employer, played by director Tommy Lee Jones, who takes surprising actions and begins a dangerous journey to keep a promise made to Melquíades to be buried in his home village should he meet his end. This quietly suspenseful and thought-provoking film takes many surprising twists, and the stark yet diverse desert landscape might well be considered a supporting player. 'Burials' won at Cannes for Best Actor and Best Screenplay last year, and disappeared quickly after a handful of good reviews in December, buried and ignored in the Oscar deluge. To my delight, it was released a week ago here and Peter and I seized the opportunity.

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