The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

the-ballad-buster-scruggs-netflix-posterDirector: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Western

Runtime: 132 Minutes

Main Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly, Brendan Gleeson, Jonjo O’Neill, Willie Watson, Clancy Brown, David Krumholtz

Plot: An anthology movie comprised of six different stories, each dealing with a different aspect of life in the Old West.

My Thoughts: Despite it being a Netflix release, I was so excited to see The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. I’ve never hated a Coen brothers movie (although I’ve enjoyed some more than others) and the trailer was hilarious. It’s a long-ass movie but knowing it was split into six stories eased my mind a little. I’ve always been a fidget!

The first segment with Buster Scruggs is nothing short of a masterpiece. I was laughing from start to finish. My husband was trying to play World of Warcraft and cursed me as he shut his game down thinking he had found his new all-time-favourite movie. The comedic timing, the crazy action, the musical numbers, ugh! Just perfect. And then it ended, and it dawned on me that Buster Scruggs was only a very minor part of this movie.

Maybe that revelation tainted it for me, but from there I just grew more and more bored with each of the other stories. They still had some great moments, but it felt like I was watching a whole lot of nothing before being rewarded with those short glimpses of brilliance. Each story also felt longer than the one before it, making the whole thing feel about 3 hours long.

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I think I’m probably in the minority here though, and I can absolutely see why most people loved it. I guess I was expecting the whole thing to be as crazy and funny as the first segment, and I set myself up for disappointment. One thing I will say though, the cinematography was absolutely gorgeous. I paid more attention to the landscape than what the characters were doing half the time.

Best Bit: The way Buster Scruggs killed the guy at the cards table was just epic. It was that perfect mix of shock and humour that makes you jump and laugh at the same time. Then the musical number that followed. Heck, I need to watch that segment again…and again!

Worst Bit: There’s no moment in particular, but I can’t comment on the sixth and final story at all because my brain had completely switched off by that point, and I was playing the Disney Emoji game on my phone instead, trying to unlock Darth Vader. (I got him)

Fun Trivia: The poker hand that Buster Scruggs refuses to play, two pair aces and eights, is infamously known as the “dead man’s hand” as it was reportedly the hand-drawn to Wild Bill Hickok before he was shot and killed.

My Rating: 2 and a half clever chickens who can answer simple math questions.

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13 thoughts on “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

  1. I still need to finish this. I made it to the gold digging one and then went to bed because it bored me so much. I agree that Buster Scruggs was nothing short of brilliant. I loved that short as well.

    The Coens are good film makers and I love a lot of their movies but I feel like I tend to dislike them more than I enjoy them. This won’t be high on my Coen list for sure.

    Like

  2. I personally enjoyed this one for its dark, almost nihilistic spin on the western genre. Meal Ticket was my favourite. Still, the Coens have certainly made better, more accessible films. I can see where you’re coming from; the titular segment sets expectations up for something quite different.

    Like

    • I can absolutely see why you loved it, to be honest I’d like to rewatch the second half with a fresh perspective because I didn’t give them my full attention.
      The tone and mood of the first segment is definitely what set me up for a fall though, I thought the rest wouldbe similar!

      Liked by 1 person

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