Comedians and writers have old notebooks. Thoughts and half baked ideas that are jotted down and either worked on, or quickly forgotten. The Coen Brothers seem to have one of those notebooks as well. One about the old west. Maybe they compiled ideas while working on their previous two movies. I don't know. I'm just thankful they decided to film it.
The two brothers who brought us "No country for old men" and "True Grit" just released "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" for Netflix. It's fantastic. For a bunch of reasons. It's a collection of six short stories. Presented as chapters in a book. Each short film stands on its own. Beautifully shot and acted. And for a film maker? That's a boon! You don't have to worry about stretching out an idea into a full length feature. You can reach into your notebook, pull out a interesting, funny or heartbreaking short snippet and just... film it. Let it stand alone as something wonderful. And that's what the Coen Brothers have done with Buster Scruggs. It's a perfect fit for Netflix. It doesn't have to work as a feature. It's a feature length binge.
Joel and Ethan Coen wrote and directed the film. They know what they're doing. The Old West has never looked better. Monument Valley, epic vistas, snow-capped mountains, the landscape and the way they filmed it, its jaw droopingly gorgeous. Then you throw in a cast of the best character actors working off a script that is fucking TIGHT? Shut the front door! I cannot get enough.
That may be my ONLY beef with this project. I want more. Tons more! There are six "Chapters" to Buster Scruggs and I wish there were sixty. The stories are all over the board. Funny, heartbreaking, terrifying, and all points in between. Which leads to the best feeling I can have while watching a movie... a sense of having no idea what's going to happen next! That's worth its weight in gold. That, edge of your seat, oh my God, they wouldn't kill THAT guy, would they? It's fucking fantastic.
The cast is insane too. Who wouldn't want to be in a Coen Brothers western? I'm not gonna give you a breakdown of everyone who appears, as I'm lazy. However I will say this: For my money? Tom Waits practically steals the show as the Old Prospector. There's a part of me that can't believe I just wrote that sentence. But it's true. Tom Waits is outstanding. Dude can act. All alone in the wilderness. Nothing to play off of but a stream and a hill, and he crushes it!
So do yourself a favor when you Netflix and Chill. After you chill? Watch The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. You'll want more. I'm already itching for part 2.