The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
WESTERN DRAMA Netflix
Ocar-winners the Coen brothers return to the world of the Western with six new stories.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs available from Fri 16 nov, netflix VERSATILE AND IDIOSYNCRATIC
film-makers the Coen brothers made their first foray into Westerns with their 2011 reboot of the John Wayne classic True Grit, starring Jeff Bridges in the lead role as grizzled, hard-drinking lawman Rooster Cogburn.
Now the makers of a raft of award-winning films including Fargo and No Country for Old Men have created their own Western, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which lands on Netflix from this week.
The film, which features six separate stories, is a lovingly-crafted mix of tributes and pastiches, with Tim Blake Nelson playing the singing sharpshooter of the first story, also called The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
The film also features the likes of Liam Neeson, James Franco, singer Tom Waits, Tyne Daly, Brendan Gleeson and The Office actor Ralph Ineson in half a dozen ripping yarns about gold prospectors, bank robbers, wagon trains, lynchings and other Western staples.
‘These are stories that were written over 25 years really,’ explains older brother Joel of the project’s origins. ‘They were put in a drawer because they were short movies and we didn’t know what we were going to do with them. Then eight or 10 years ago we started thinking: “Well maybe we could do them together.”’
So why use the anthology format, which the brothers have not attempted before?
‘It’s a weird animal,’ admits Joel. ‘None of us really knew what to call it or how to classify it. The stories could be seen as tracks on a record. It’s a strange format, but it grew out of the nature of how the stories came into existence.’
Nelson, who sang the Grammywinning In the Jailhouse Now in
O Brother, Where Art Thou? and also sings in Buster Scruggs, says that his admiration for Joel and Ethan is still growing.
‘They finally know what they’re doing!’ jokes Nelson.
‘They are incredibly meticulous and prepared as film-makers. When you get to the set, there are no decisions being made that could have been made earlier. That rigour pays off, because it allows for the actors to be utterly free, to have all the time they could possibly want to do justice to the amazing writing.’
TOM WAITS’ PROSPECTOR GETS INTO A TERRIBLE SCRAPE IN All Gold Canyon
TIM BLAKE NELSON AS SINGING GUNSLINGERBUSTER SCRUGGS