THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA Director: TOMMY LEE JONES U.S.A.-FRANCE 2005. COLOUR ANAMORPHIC DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO 121 MIN. Book cinema tickets THE INTRIGUING COLLABORATION BETWEEN MEXICAN SCREENWRITER GUILLERMO ARRIAGA (AMORES PERROS, 21 GRAMS) AND DIRECTOR-STAR TOMMY LEE JONES PROVES FRUITFUL INDEED WITH THIS IMPOSING CONTEMPORARY FABLE SET ON THE TEX-MEX BORDERLINE. The steady flow of Mexican illegal immigrants into the US is a fact of life in these parts, but impacts on different individuals in different ways: weather-beaten cowpoke Pete Perkins (Jones), for instance, accepts his hard-working colleague Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cedillo) as a friend, and when the latter is shot dead in mysterious circumstances, he’s livid that the local sheriff seems unwilling to pursue justice for a mere ‘wetback’. Border patrolman Mike Norton (Barry Pepper), on the other hand, treats his job like a turkey shoot, though he’s about to have his perspective re-shaped when Perkins’ expression of deep loyalty to his departed buddy becomes a harsh but much-needed lesson in humanity for the man in uniform. Although its purpose in enshrining the value in a single human life is clear as a beacon, the movie’s far from some worthy treatise. As the story ventures deep into border territory, things turn alternately weird (a cameo from Levon Helm of The Band as a elderly blind hermit is haunting indeed) and grisly (some handy hints for all you amateur embalmers out there), taking on a tale-spinning potency somewhere between dream and parable. Resonating with the cinematic legacy of Huston and Peckinpah, this is fundamentally timeless stuff, with Tommy Lee’s impressively assured direction as spare, decent, and true as his central performance. A must-see. Trevor Johnston. Director: TOMMY LEE JONES U.S.A.-FRANCE 2005. COLOUR ANAMORPHIC DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO 121 MIN.