Director(s): Joel and Ethan Coen
Date released: 9th November 2018
Written by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Main actors: Tim Blake Nelson, Willie Watson
Sometimes the Coen brothers will put stories together by combining gags and throwaway material not used previously. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs didn’t originate as a mini-series (contrary to popular reports), so why is it an anthology? Could it be a way of using previously unused material? Maybe they did intend to produce an anthology from its conception and maybe all the material here was written for this project. Nevertheless, it still resembles the way in which to Coens put stories together, the best and the worst. Some gags work perfectly because they’re consistent with the tone, others seemed to only be included because they really wanted them to be there. The vignettes are themselves like that. Some are internally consistent and hold together on their own, while others not so much. Compared with the Coen brothers’ other films, this is the definitive entry in their filmography. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the kind of films they make. Some parts are great, other parts are self-indulgent and the rest are weird. They’ve always made anthology films. This is just the first one that isn’t pretending like it isn’t.