starring Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Dwight Yoakam
screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga
directed by Tommy Lee Jones
by Walter Chaw Crash by way of Cormac McCarthy, Tommy Lee Jones's "fuck you" of a mouthful The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is another fairytale salvo from the race divide, fired from that good place that results in cultural artifacts so unbearably cheesy and proselytizing that any potential heat is lost long before the second reel has finished unspooling. It's about serendipity, this elegy for the American West, hence no transgression is left unredeemed in its long, rambling, "it's good for you, so swallow it" narrative, with blame going in equal portion to Jones--whose smug, smarter-than-you are attitude has shoehorned him into prestigious position as the resident asshole of Man of the House, Men in Black II, and The Missing--and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (21 Grams, Amores Perros), who paints every Mexican in the film in the same shade of saintly. (All the gringos, on the other hand, have a lot to learn about the grand mystery of being human.) It's tedious, unsurprising stuff, this picture--the kind of thing that gets the Right in a bunch about how Hollywood is a tool of the subversive Lefties while making smart folks on both sides of the Culture War cringe before its condescension.