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Westside Steve

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Revue

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Netflix
R.                       132 min


You may have heard some of the big directors complaining recently about the Digital streaming networks being allowed to enter movies into the Academy Awards. I understand. The entertainment business, like just about every other business in America, is changing with the times. When Amazon made headlines with MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, the movie industry realize they were barbarians at the gate. THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS represents a huge step toward respectability as it’s the first digital release of to guys that I consider to sit at the right hand of Stanley Kubrick namely Joel and Ethan Coen. I have loved almost everyone of their varied and quirky films over the decades. Even though it’s a Netflix release they also opened at a few brick-and-mortar theaters just to qualify for the Academy Awards.  But for the rest of the great unwashed we can watch anytime we want on Netflix which is not that bad if you have a big screen TV a sound system and can find the self control to turn off the smart phone.
As always there are a few facets that separate every Coen Brothers movie from the rest and this time it’s the setting; one of the most familiar and universal settings in the world the American West.
Second it's a series of stories harkening back to Ethan Coen’s 1998 collection of short stories Gates of Eden. Here there are six vignettes under the western umbrella all different, but embraced by the common theme. They run the gamut from cornball surrealist comedy, in the opening story from which comes the title. Scruggs himself (Tim Blake Nelson) is a pure of heart singing cowboy with a date with destiny , and the entire segment seems to parody the black and white, good and bad cliché ridden cowboy flicks of the thirties and forties. Other stories seem to be an homage to Cormac McCarthy.  Their NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is from his novel and one of these stories, that follows Star-Crossed soulmates William and Alice across the badlands in a wagon train, reminds me a lot of the bleak and unforgiving atmosphere that pervades McCarthy’s work.  On the lighter side is a tale of an old prospector, play by the irascible (Tom Waits), and his lifelong search for the elusive pocket of gold.  
You may remember Harry Melling from the Harry Potter series. He turns in what is quite possibly my favorite single performance in the film as a quadruple amputee carted about the old west as a combination human oddity and thespian. His rambling oratory makes this segment hard to look away from. 
That’s not all but there’s a lot to love with these stories that certainly range  from comedy to tragedy to philosophy to simple WTF. 
I have some problems with Netflix but I try to give them their due when it’s deserved. One positive thing is that especially in a film as puzzling and odd as this one we are afforded the option of recapping some of the scenes later, which I did.
Like a good pot of soup I liked this one even better than next day.
A-
WSS

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I watched this one just last night.  It was definitely classic Coen Brother quirk....As you said, mostly fun and entertaining...but also  sad/tragic. Like WTF...why did you have to go there assholes?

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On 12/14/2018 at 12:22 PM, The Gipper said:

I watched this one just last night.  It was definitely classic Coen Brother quirk....As you said, mostly fun and entertaining...but also  sad/tragic. Like WTF...why did you have to go there assholes?

i had to turn it off 

it was definitely the anti holiday movie

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