The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Amusing Tales

Rating (3 out of 5)

A Netflix original movie from the Coen Brothers, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a fun yet oddly assembled anthology of 6 stories from the Old West.   I laughed, I shrugged, I checked my e-mail.  This is a mixed bag of stories.

Plot: There are 6 unrelated stories about the old west;

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (4 out of 5)
Near Algodones (3.5 out of 5)
Meal Ticket (3 out of 5)
All Gold Canyon (3 out of 5)
The Gal Who Got Rattled (4 out of 5)
The Mortal Remains (3.5 out of 5)

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What I Liked:  The stories were all enjoyable and each story has its own little quirk.  You start off first with the singing cowboy who is a quick draw and end with the coach to the afterlife.  Everyone will have a different favorite, which is part of the fun of a project like this.  Wish they just made the project a TV series, which would be easier to watch again on Netflix to watch specific episodes.

The cast is littered with recognizable names and everyone delivers good performances.  The ones I remember well are Tim Blake Nelson from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, James Franco from Near Algodones and Zoe Kazan from The Gal Who Got Rattled.

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This movie shows the beauty of the west without sacrificing pace or story like Sister Brothers from earlier this year.  The movie also showed some of the harshness of the West and effectively intertwined the environment into the story.

What I Didn’t Like: Running at 2 hours and 12 minutes the show runs a bit long.  Had it been 5 stories rather than 6, leaving out “Meal Ticket” or “All Gold Canyon”, I think the movie would have resonated with me better.

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There wasn’t a connection to all the stories or theme, ala a Pulp Fiction.  This appears to be a TV show wrapped into a movie being released in time for Oscar season.  The Ballad is a jumble of episodes rather than a movie

Conclusion:  The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is worth watching for those who don’t mind a little off beat and slightly dark humor.  I am sure I will watch parts of this movie again, especially the first 2 episodes; I really enjoyed those.

 

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