The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)
Ranch owner Pete Perkins (Tommy Lee Jones) had only two passions in life: horses and Freddy Fender songs. He was not a loner but when Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cesar Cedillo) came to his ranch one day, looking for water for his horse, Pete had instantly found a long-lost brother and a bosom friend. Melquiades was an illegal immigrant who crossed the Tex-Mex border to find himself a better job and opportunities for the family he left behind. "I'm just a cowboy," he told Pete when the latter asked him what kind of job he could do. And right there and then they had struck a friendship so unique and warm that the Brokeback Mountain cowboys would surely envy.
Through a series of flash backs, typical of Guillermo Arriaga writing (21 Grams), we learn of Melquiades' past, his dreams and his heart's deepest desire. This desire included being buried in his hometown and in his own place. Pete made a promise to him that he would see to it that his friend got his wish. When an ill-tempered, extremely loathe-able (I invented that term because it best describes him from scene one until just before the end) Border Patrol guard, Mike Norton (Barry Pepper), thought that he was being fired at, he pulled the trigger on Melquiades, instantly killing him.
What followed was a neat, poignant, darkly humorous and ironic story of how Melquiades had three burials. For a debut directing, Tommy Lee Jones did a wonderful job on Three Burials. For sure he would be snobbed by Academy Awards because critics are still euphoric over Brokeback. But then again, Cannes is there to take notice of Jones' masterful directing and acting. And if it's any consolation, Mel Gibson was not even nominated for best director and his opus Passion of the Christ thrown into the garbage bin. This is Hollywood, anything is possible!
The Fanatic Verdict: It wouldn't hurt to include this in your weekend viewing list!