Talk Film Society - Seal of Approval: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Talk Film Society - Seal of Approval is awarded to those films the staff here deem worthy of your attention.
This week, we recommend the new film by Joel and Ethan Coen, the Western anthology film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Containing six self-contained stories, the film stars Tim Blake Nelson, Tom Waits, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Zoe Kazan, and Brendan Gleeson. The Netflix production won the Best Screenplay award at this year’s Venice International Film Festival; with the Coens jumping back on the saddle of the Western film genre, working with such a wonderful cast, it’s not hard to believe they’ve made something quite special.
But, the Coen brothers have had their fair share of misfires in the past, and Netflix’s track record isn’t spotless, so there was some hesitation on whether The Ballad of Buster Scruggs could live up to so much promise — anthology films are a tricky thing, don’t ya know.
Have no fear, the Coens have come through. Take it from our staff, as they share their thoughts on The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and why it’s worthy of our Seal of Approval.
“Equal parts hilarious and downright sad, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is another great addition to the Coen's catalogue. There's not a weak sequence in the bunch, with some being shining examples of the Coens’ style, “All Gold Canyon” starring Tom Waits especially. And it's great to see the brothers head back to a genre they clearly love.” - Matt Curione
“Anthology movies tend to be hit or miss, but if anyone was gonna knock it out of the park, it’s the Coens. There’s something for everyone in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” - Callie Smith
“Few things have stuck with me more in 2018 than certain moments in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. From the lovely score flourishes by Carter Burwell, to the drop-dead gorgeous cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel, and, the most striking moment for me, the ending to “The Gal Who Got Rattled”; like many of the Coen brothers’ works, it all stays with you and goes in deep for days after you’ve finished watching it.” - Marcelo Pico
“The Coen brothers continue their legacy of deadpan silliness paired with bleak morbidity in this anthology western. Quirky performances and beautiful cinematography keep it afloat even during its lesser points.” - Marcus Irving
“Most Coen brother films have a certain slow burn quality that makes it difficult to judge on first viewing and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is no different. It is beautiful, dark, and hilarious in a way that keeps you up at night, wondering why the world is so messed up and why we pretend it's not. You can debate which part is your favorite with your friends, or just take solace that this film and every film by the writer-directors are a gift to lovers of rich stories that leave a mark.” - Joey Aucoin
“Like all the best films from the Coen brothers, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is one that I needed to sit with before I could truly recognize its greatness. It’s the story of America and humanity in six stories that has the Coens use every piece of their creative arsenal to remarkable effect.” - Sam Van Haren