In this write-up for Letterboxd, the film-centric social media network for which I function as West Coast Editor, I report on the New York Film Festival screening of the new Coen brothers masterpiece, an anthological Western with a devastating cast.
The Coen brothers unveiled their latest work The Ballad of Buster Scruggs at the New York Film Festival last week, and it’s yet another masterpiece from the peerless filmmakers. Perhaps even more so than their acclaimed True Grit (2010), which garnered ten Oscar nominations, Buster Scruggs betrays their extreme affection for—and deep knowledge of—the Western, cinema’s first and longest-lasting genre.
The Netflix-backed project was erroneously initially reported to be a TV series, but according to the brothers it was always planned as an anthology film comprised of six individual stories. Each one embodies and gently subverts a particular Western sub-genre, from the singing cowboy films typified by those starring Gene Autry, to the fatalistic grime of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns, to a wagon train drama, with multiple stops in between, ending on a dark tale that wouldn’t be all that out of place as a Twilight Zone episode.