John Sayles' murder-mystery explores interpersonal and interracial tensions in Rio County, Texas. Sam Deeds is the local sheriff who is called to investigate a 40-year-old skeleton found in the desert....As Sam delves deeper into the town's dark secrets, he begins to learn more about his father, the legendary former sheriff Buddy Deeds, who replaced the corrupt Charlie Wade. While Sam puzzles out the long-past events surrounding the mystery corpse, he also longs to rekindle a romance with his old high-school flame. Sayles' complex characters are brought together as the tightly woven plot finally draws to its dramatic close. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
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[cataloging the flora]
We got cenizo, that's purple sage, agave, nopal... What's that stuff? Yeah that's it, that's whatchamacallit. That's horse crippler.
This place is a gold mine.
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John Sayles' direction of this film reminded me of Hitchcock in that I was always aware of the director's style and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the acting and the story. Like "Godfather," this is a tale of families and how the sins of the fathers cast their shadows over the generations. To illustrate the connection, Sayles will slowly track his camera from a conversation in one part of a room to another part of the same room where characters who lived 25 years earlier are conversing. The years have passed, we realize, but all the characters, even the dead ones, are in this together. The technique may sound strange, but it works magically. And another thing: I've always thought Kris Kristofferson was a better singer than actor, and a better songwriter than singer. But in this film he turns in an outstanding performance as a very very bad Texas border town sheriff who disappeared years ago and whose bones have just turned up in the desert. At least we think those are his bones, and to solve the puzzle, the current sheriff, son of the man who became sheriff when Kris disappeared, must dig further than he wants into the town's secrets. And once again, knowing how the film ends makes subsequent viewings just as fascinating as the first.
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