The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Movie review

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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Gone are the days when I was an uncritical fan of the Coen brothers’ work. Legends like Fargo or Big Lebowski probably don’t even need to be mentioned, because they shaped most of us; However, for at least the last decade, the Coens have not avoided a few missteps, which for me culminated in last year’s puzzle Ave, Caesar! That’s when I had to admit with a sigh that the days of Miller’s intersections or Barton’s Finks are irretrievably gone. But their Netflix news took my breath away even more.

Originally, it was supposed to be a series, but in the end, an anthology of six western stories was created instead. A fan of the genre will be impressed by the variety of topics and processing methods. We will see a bloody musical, a Leon-like slow atmosphere, a stagecoach conversation, a prairie love story and an epic landscape painting. The inconsistency of pace and style then brings the result down as a complete film that should be shown in cinemas, but in the context of Netflix, this is an accurate approach.

In any case, there is a set and a camera that is unprecedented by the standards of television production. It’s not every Friday that you have such a sweeping Wild West in the living room, and although the Coens have replace Roger Deakins with Bruno Delbonnel for this time, you will be amazed by the many shots without exaggeration. At least there’s no change in the music, so we’ll see atmospheric tones and bizarrely overwrought grooves from Carter Burwell’s workshop. So, in terms of craftsmanship, there is nothing to complain about.

Personally, I was please that each of the stories has a moral to carry over to the present, making the short story collection something more than just a western thriller, but it suggests that some themes just keep repeating themselves – whether we live in the rugged Wild West or in the Trumpian America of today .

Once again, they managed to put together a very likeable acting ensemble, so every episode is led by at least one familiar face – James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Tom Waits, Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan and Liam Neeson in an unusual role. At the same time, traditional Coen proprieties await everyone, i.e. darkly humorous situations and geysers of violence. The viewer cannot be sure of anything in principle, and I was surprised several times where the story went compared to the original premise; the edge of unpredictability is no longer as sharp as we were used to with the Coens, but even so, they still manage to surprise – and make me very happy.

Although the fragmented approach and the star cast of individual episodes will keep the attention, the occasional shortening certainly wouldn’t hurt. At least the third and fourth short story could have deserved a bit of editing care, but this is by no means a major problem. It’s only worse with partial lack of focus, as not every line reaches a satisfactory conclusion – or rather the resulting message, no matter how clear, sometimes sounds banal. Fortunately, thanks to the intoxicating audio-visual and capable actors, it is not particularly important, or even noticeable, but they do not fit in between the absolute Coen top the Ballad of Buster Scruggs and his western part. Even so, it’s still a quality show and a great cut for Netflix.

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