Posts Tagged ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’

Media Update 1/3/19

January 3, 2019


The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

I like a good western (although not as much as my stepfather) so it was with great excitement that I heard that the Coen Brothers were returning to that genre. Their version of True Grit far outshines the original and their period pieces are always fresh and interesting. The Coen Brothers have had my love ever since I first watched Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? This movie felt kind of like a mix between the two movies. The movie has six stories that run a fairly broad spectrum of tones. From happy, to dismal, to heartwarming, to exciting, to sad, and on to scary there it felt like a story buffet. One of the things that I found they all shared was a certain dark comedy. Each story is pulled along at a good pace toward its inevitable conclusion. Of course, each story’s pace matches its tone so the darker tales feel longer and the happy ones feel quicker. However, this actually worked for me. All of the stories were compelling and all of the characters were interesting. With great actors like Liam Neeson, Clancy Brown, Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, Stephen Root, Harry Melling, Tom Waits, Brendan Gleeson, Saul Rubinek, and Tyne Daly this is definitely an ensemble work. However, with the star power divided into six parts it does not feel too crowded at all. While I usually get turned off by darker movies, this one did not have that effect. I definitely recommend this movie.


A Serious Man

Some of the Coen Brothers films are not as well received, like Burn After Reading. I feel that since I had never heard about this movie before stumbling on it on Netflix, it was definitely not a huge hit. I would compare this movie with one of the Coen Brothers’ less popular films, Barton Fink. Like that movie, it is a character study where we view a character being pushed further and further out of their comfort zone. The movie is about a Jewish physics professor in the 1960s whose life starts to fall apart around him as he tries to navigate an increasingly bizarre set of situations. It stars a lot of relative unknowns because almost all of the characters are Jewish and the Coen Brothers wanted a departure from using their regulars. Pretty much the only exceptions are Fred Melamed and Richard Kind, two brilliant character actors whose names most would not recognize. The rest of the cast they did find are also excellent and special kudos go to the star Michael Stuhlbarg who later went on to become a bigger star with The Shape of Water, Doctor Strange, Call Me By Your Name and a lot more popular movies. He is a great character to follow. He is very sympathetic and likable so it is heartbreaking to root for him in his sisyphean tasks. I would also say that I felt some influences from other directors like David Lynch and Wes Anderson as there is plenty of quirky weirdness. I also recommend this movie.


Inside Llewyn Davis

This one was another character study. This one is also set in the sixties but follows a down and out folk musician in New York City just trying to scrape by and pursue his dream. Things have started to get desperate and it is literally just a slice of life story about a few days in linear time. Oscar Isaac plays the title and lead role and, although he is a little bit of a dick, he is really easy to root for. The other two major parts in the movie are played by Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake and they are also pretty likable. There is a history between all three characters and it is just fun to watch them interact. Also, thee is just so much fun folky music from a time where musicians were really starting to branch out. There are also great smaller parts from Adam Driver (yup they were in this together first), F. Murray Abraham and John Goodman. This movie has even less of a plot than A Serious Man but it is full of good actors just doing what good actors do. At the same time, it feels like a great little story about moving on with your life. I feel like watching both movies is a great contrast as they take place in the same decade but take place in completely different communities. I recommend this too.

Music of the Week:
The Killers – The Man

Pretty Vicious – Are You Entertained?

The Dollyrots – Walking On Sunshine

Deca – Mammon’s Mantra

James Chance and the Contortions- Designed to Kill

Weekly Update (Two weeks full!):
– This week’s theme is “Coen Brothers”
– I finished Lucifer Season 2
– I watched more Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I finished Chilling Tales of Sabrina Season 1
– I finished Designated Survivor Season 2
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season One
– I started watching The Magicians Season 3
– I started watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 6
– It’s a new year and I feel ready for it

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