The Ballad of Buster Seruggs
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Producers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Megan Ellison, Sue Naegle, Robert Graf
Release Date: 31st August 2018 (Venice), 9th November 2018 (United States)
Streaming Platform: Netflix
Star Cast: Tyne Daly, James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson, Tim Blake Nelson, Tom Waits, Clancy Brown, David Krumholtz, Willie Watson, Stehpen Root, Ralph Ineson, Harry Melling, Bill Heck, Grainger Hines, Tyne Daly, Saul Rubinek, Chelcie Ross, Jonjo O'Neill
An anthology of six short films that take place in 19th-century post-Civil War era during the settling of the Old West.
The film is presented in the form of a short story collection called The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Other Tales of the American Frontier. Segments in between depict a hand turning the pages of a book as it goes through the six chapters.
The character of Buster Scruggs is a happy-go-lucky singing cowboy clad in white who travels atop his horse Dan. He explains to the audience that he is considered an outlaw and a "misanthrope", though he claims that he does not hate his fellow man.
In the next segment, ‘Near Algodones’- the Coens introduce each chapter by turning the pages of an illustrated book and this time it is James Franco who takes the lead as a bank robber about to be hanged.
Another chapter, ‘All Gold Canyon’ features an outstanding Tom Waits as a prospector panning for gold in a remote landscape he doesn’t seem to mind until his concernment is unexpectedly shattered.
There’s a lot of killing in this movie, and many of those who suffer it are shown- with their eyes open, looking at the sky. In the movie’s final story, ‘The Mortal Remains’, one of a pair of bounty hunters, played by Jonjo O’Neill, tells his fellow passengers how he enjoys looking into the man’s eyes and watch as he negotiates the border between life and death, trying to find a state to which he can be reconciled. Do any of them “make it?” one of the passengers asks. “I don’t know,” the bounty hunter says cheerfully. “I’m only watching.”
The musical score by Carter Burwell is rich and very persuasive to the scenes. The film evokes an old-school western vibe in many ways and the comical or the satirical elements though present, doesn’t make this film a parody.
The Coens have definitely re-defined the movie world with such a divergent and almost non-identical piece of combined art.