Thursday, April 06, 2006

5th April 06 - The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

No matter how many times they said his name, I still can’t pronounce Melquiades. But this doesn’t matter too much, because the majority of cretins haven’t heard of this film, and the few who have can understand if you say "that Tommy Lee Jones film, The Three Burials" and then mumble something Spanish. Anyway, the first cinema trip in two months, and a refreshing film to kick off my return with. Three Burials is a ‘Western’ in theory, but set in the present day (clue: mobile phones and celebrity magazines) and with cowboys but not Indians. Plus I liked it, and I rarely like Westerns. They’re all the same. Little towns, Clint Eastwood (with his squinty little eyes, or “acting”) a shoot out, the end. I know that’s a generalisation, but that’s how my young eyes see them.

Anyway, the first half is a jumbled mix of scenes, jumping back and forth without using ‘visual cues’ like different colour tones aka many other films that jump back and forth. A lesser person may have had trouble understanding which scene belonged where. However, I found this approach intriguing, a sort of Pulp Fiction-esque style that wasn’t hugely necessary, but made the simple story have more depth, as I gradually added more information to the plot that was forming in my brain. The second half straightens out into a normal narrative structure. And what a strange narrative. At times amusing, sometimes affecting, there’s shots of humanity (very generous humanity at that) and beautiful scenery and clippity clop horses. And it ends without a massive resolution. It reminded me of a scene from Adaptation (one of my favourite films) where Charlie Kaufman says he wants to create a film where there’s no character arcs. Apart from Mike Norton (Barry Pepper – the creepiest looking person in the world) who sort of learns a lesson, though it’s a pretty easy lesson to learn (random shooting is bad, m’kay) no one else really changes. This I like. I’m fed up of neat films (Crash – ooo we’re all racist but we’re really good at our hearts and we learn beautiful lessons and we’re up our own LA arses) and this was just simple. Different enough to be interesting, but simple enough not to piss me off.

My one gripe is with ‘Pete’ (Tommy Lee Jones, with big sad puppy eyes). I don’t know much about Pete, or why he did what he did, or if he’s a little bonkers, or why he’s a little bonkers. It gives him an air of mystery, yes, but I couldn’t connect with his character in any way. He was just a blank space to me. I was waiting for something to give me more of a hint of who he really was. There were little nuggets, but just too small to be satisfying. But, I’ve sat and thought about him. And films that make me think are generally good. So that’s my opinion. Three Burials is generally good. It makes the magic rating of 8.

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