Review: The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs (Netflix)

Review from Brandon:

If you are in the mood for a good old-fashioned western?  The Coen Brothers (True Grit, No Country For Old Men and many more) have just the film for you and it is available now on Netflix.  I’m a huge fan of the brothers Coen and nearly every one of their movies.  Honestly, this release crept up on me and turned out to be a pleasant surprise for a nice “evening in” viewing.  Like many of the Coen Brothers movies, like The Big Lebowski, Fargo, O, Brother Where Art Thou, Burn After Reading and Hail! Caesar, just to name a few, all are heavy on the dialogue and beautiful cinematography.  The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs is no exception.  Another surprise that I wasn’t expecting is that this film is actually a series of short stories “ranging from absurd to profound, these Western vignettes from the Coen brothers follow the adventures of outlaws and settlers on the American frontier.” [Netflix]

The first story is based on the titular character, Buster Scruggs, who is a high-fashioned, smooth-talkin’ cowboy with a legendary quick draw.  Scruggs sets the stage and leaves you wanting more at the end of his story with his wit and hilarious charm.  The theme that is constant through each of the short stories is death and how cold-blooded the old West really was.  Out of the 6 stories in the film, there wasn’t one that was worse than the others.  The few that stood out was Buster Scruggs, “Meal Ticket” starring Liam Neeson and a man with no arms or legs (very dark ending to this story), “All Gold Canyon” that follows a man on the hunt for some gold, “The Gal Who Got Raddled” follows a story of a woman on a wagon train who gets caught up in a fight with Native Americans, and “The Mortal Remains” which is a very dialogue heavy ride in a wagon filled with 6 very different characters on what may be their last ride.  The 5th I didn’t mention stars James Franco and is the second in the set of stories, “Near Algodones”, is good, but not great.  Still worth the watch though, you don’t need to skip over it.

Overall, “The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs” is a fun western with plenty of character development, good action, great storytelling and beautiful cinematography.  Classic Coen Bros.  Thumbs up!

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