Thanks to Netflix, I just watched the Coen Brothers’ Ballad of Buster Scruggs, their latest wonderful film. It is a collection of six unconnected vignettes, each set in the Old West and each re-inventing some aspect of the classic western genre. It is, I believe, a complete success.
I just checked their filmography and once again I am amazed by their record of one cinematic masterpiece after another, decade after decade. With the exception of their remake of The Ladykillers, they have never let me down; most often they have stunned me with their elegant brilliance. I’m not one to screen favourite movies over and over, but I have happily and usefully watched nearly all their movies more than once: Somehow, each new viewing of Miller’s Crossing or O Brother or A Serious Man (I could go on and on) adds to the pleasure.
The anthology of stories in Buster Scruggs allows for some remarkably fine acting cameos; Tim Blake Nelson as Buster Scruggs in the opening story is perfect; Harry Melling’s odd brilliance as the Artist; the lovely relationship between Bill Heck and Zoe Kazan the Girl Who Got Rattled. Compelling stuff.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is another notch on the lifetime achievement belt of the Coen Brothers.