A snafu in my latest for Men’s Health, a snag, let’s say, in my multi-point praise for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and my case against peak TV: Apparently, per cast member Zoe Kazan, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was never conceived as a TV series, despite months of reporting that the Coen brothers “retooled” the series as a film, and despite over a year of reporting on the series as a series. Pardon me if I’m suspect that the movie was always going to be a movie. You’d think that at some point someone, whether the Coens themselves (unlikely, being as they tend not to care about this sort of thing) or Annapurna Television (more likely) or Netflix reps (most likely of all), would have stepped in to correct mistaken reports. I’m not buying it. We move on.
Whatever The Ballad of Buster Scruggs started out as, it ended up as an absolutely terrific Western anthology movie, in which, as is always the case with anthologies and omnibuses, some segments work better than others but all of them work in concert to paint a pastiche of the Western as the most American of movie genres (at least if you ask me) and a portrait of the West as a place of violence and heartache. It’s really good. And it’s also on Netflix as of today, so if you know what’s good for you, you’re going to put it on your queue. (Credit especially to Tom Waits. He’s amazing.)
You can read my full breakdown of the film over at Men’s Health.