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Twenty 49
LSU Fan
Shreveport
Member since Jun 2014
10062 posts

re: Ballad of buster scruggs
I enjoyed the Buster segment, as well as limbless orator, prospector, and wagon train. Watched some a couple of times, which is rare for me.

Didn't care much for the stagecoach final segment, but I think it is because I missed some clues that y'all are pointing out. I don't tend to watch my westerns like a literature assignment, and I often drink during them, so I guess I need to take another look at that one.

I like the anthology format. Too often, movie/TV people have a good premise/idea that would make a great segment within a movie or a short story, but they ruin it by trying to milk a 2+ hour movie out of it.

Streaming should free them of that trap. Streaming movies don't have to be 2 hours to make theater attendees feel like they got their money's worth, and series episodes can be 11, 38, or 67 minutes. Not every episode has to be 30 or 60 minutes to fit a TV schedule. Most producers have not yet taken advantage of this benefit.


LittleJerrySeinfield
Alabama Fan
Glass Case of Emotion
Member since Aug 2013
3369 posts

re: Ballad of buster scruggs
I watched the first three or four, then fell asleep. They seemed to get worse and worse. I enjoyed the first one.


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cgrand
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
HAMMOND
Member since Oct 2009
14363 posts
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re: Ballad of buster scruggs
quote:

I guess you could see it as a story of death taking the passengers across the divide.

the englishman and the irishman are harvesters of souls, the coachman is taking them to the "other side". the frenchman, the lady & the trapper are all dead.

it dawns on them what is happening as the background color washes blue and the arrive at the hotel. in the background as they open the doors you can see the stairway to the "light"


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PowerTool
Texas A&M Fan
The dark side of the road
Member since Dec 2009
13690 posts
 Online 

re: Ballad of buster scruggs
quote:

I don't tend to watch my westerns like a literature assignment, and I often drink during them,


I just happened to be sober and bored when I found it and was hooked in right away. Watched a lot of Westerns with grandpa growing up, so I loved the juxtaposition of the classic singing cowboy strolling into a gritty modern Western movie scene.

Completely agree about the anthology format. I read somewhere that the Coens had written some Western stories over the years that they hadn't used, and decided to put them together. Buster Scruggs offers is a great sign of what streaming can do when it's not constrained by standard feature formats or the need to commit to a full season of episodes.


kingbob
LSU Fan
Sorrento, LA
Member since Nov 2010
45650 posts

re: Ballad of buster scruggs
Man, that was disappointing. That opening segment was so awesome, but most of the other vignettes were really disappointing. That wagon train one depressed the shite out of me.


Pectus
New Orleans Saints Fan
Internet
Member since Apr 2010
65458 posts

re: Ballad of buster scruggs
quote:

That wagon train one depressed the shite out of me.


Best story.


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RabidTiger
LSU Fan
Member since Nov 2009
2145 posts
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re: Ballad of buster scruggs
quote:

That wagon train one depressed the shite out of me.


I think that was the best one. It was like a Hemingway short story.

The one with the limbless orator was depressing as shit, but it does make you think. It was like Flannery O'Connor meets Anton Chekhov.

I thought the Buster Scruggs one didn't really fit. It was too Looney Tunes.


Breadstick Gun
LSU Fan
Mackenbach, Germany
Member since Apr 2009
6242 posts

re: Ballad of buster scruggs
I need a Buster Scruggs prequel like...NOW.

“Old Dan and I
With throats burned dry
And souls that cry for water
Cool clear water.”


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PowerTool
Texas A&M Fan
The dark side of the road
Member since Dec 2009
13690 posts
 Online 

re: Ballad of buster scruggs
quote:

It was like Flannery O'Connor meets Anton Chekhov.


I've yet to read Chekhov, but Flannery O'Connor did love the grotesque and the cast aside.


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Tigris
Montana Fan
Fernando Poo
Member since Jul 2005
9328 posts
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re: Ballad of buster scruggs
quote:

I thought the Buster Scruggs one didn't really fit. It was too Looney Tunes.


Buster Scruggs more or less IS Bugs Bunny. I thought it fit the theme very well, though.

If any didn't fit it was probably the prospector story, because he survives and prospers. This one is pretty closely based on a Jack London story "All Gold Canyon". I remember it from reading it years ago and looked it up to be sure. Waits was terrific in it.



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colorchangintiger
Houston Astros Fan
Dan Carlin
Member since Nov 2005
29555 posts

re: Ballad of buster scruggs
quote:

I read somewhere that the Coens had written some Western stories over the years that they hadn't used, and decided to put them together.


Tim Blake Nelson (Buster Scruggs) said the Coen's has asked him to play Buster Scruggs around 15 years ago. I think right after Oh Brother Where Art Thou.


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colorchangintiger
Houston Astros Fan
Dan Carlin
Member since Nov 2005
29555 posts

re: Ballad of buster scruggs
quote:

I thought the Buster Scruggs one didn't really fit. It was too Looney Tunes.


The whole anthology moved from fun and silly to dark and gritty. Here are a few takes I read on reddit that helped me understand it.

The nature of evil:

quote:

I think the order in which the short films were placed was intentional. Each story represents a step on the journey one goes through when confronted with the famous 'Problem of Evil', starting with simple explanations, and on to more complex ones.

"Ballad of Buster Scruggs" - The universe is a ultimately just place, and Goodness and Evil are easily identified and intrinsic qualities within people. This is the naive, 'Disney-esque' treatment of evil and suffering where the good guy is good and he can do wrong (despite breaking laws and dropping bodies left and right). The world and the people in it are black and white, and when the good guy dies, he ascends into heaven to experience eternal joy and happiness.

"Near Algodones" - Neither good nor evil is your nature - you have a choice in the matter, and your actions are the cause of your own suffering. Here the MC tries to rob a bank, and for this sin he is condemned to death. Though he narrowly escapes his sentence the first time, the karmic justice of the universe catches up with him, and for his sin he is killed. Conversely, the old banker is earning an honest living, and so the all of the MC's bullets miraculously bounce off the pans, no doubt due to his good karma. Here too, the universe is just. If anything bad happens, it is because it is your fault, even if the cause-effect relationship is not so clear.

"Meal Ticket" - There is no rhyme or reason to the suffering of humans - In contrast to the previous story, one is not always punished for crimes that he committed - Here the MC is nearly incapable of sinning, as he has no arms and no legs, and cannot impose his will on anyone; in fact I believe the only time he ever speaks in the film is when he is encouraging others towards virtue. He is a hard worker trying to make an honest living in the only way he can. Yet in the end he is thrown to his death because a chicken can entertain the masses better than he can. Here it seems his suffering was unwarranted and that the universe is unjust.

"All Gold Canyon" - Man is the source of suffering and evil. Nature is all sunshine and dandelions, if left alone. Add one man and he begins to destroy the earth in his quest for wealth (the deer, the birds, etc. all leave). Add just one more man and we have death, suffering, and conflict. Wherever we go, it seems, evil and destruction is sure to follow. Here, the universe is not intrinsically just or unjust. It simply is, and evil emerges from man's presence inside of it.

"The Gal Who Got Rattled" - Evil is not fundamental, even in man. Instead, things like Fear and Ignorance are fundamental - In other words, Evil doesn't really exist, and so it is not really a problem at all. Here the MC is told all through her life that she is subject to the whims of a incompetent man (her brother) and is to be married off to another man. She earnestly believes that in this world, as a woman, she has no agency. Whatever problems arise in her situation, she relies on a man to solve them for her. This understanding of her place in the world is ultimately the cause of her death. In contrast to all the previous stories, nothing external caused her physical harm - fear of what one man told her another might do to her was enough. This is not to say that physical suffering does not exist - but that our preoccupation with resolving this 'Problem of Evil' in the external world is built on a misdiagnosis.

"The Mortal Remains" - This story suggests that regardless of where you sit on the moralizing spectrum, we all end up the same: dead. From there, an individual's future is uncertain. So why worry about it, I guess?


quote:

BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS - DEATH AS A JOKE
Death is portrayed exclusively as an amusing gaffe brought upon by underestimating Scuggs. Each death isn't really sad or emotionally draining but funny and surprising. Scruggs' own death is a great visual gag. Death is really just the punchline to the joke we call life.

NEAR ALGODONES - DEATH AS AN INEVITABILITY
The main character is constantly skirting death's door. He's shot at, hung, attacked by natives, captured, and hung again. Life is kind of shaggy dog story where we all know the end. You can only find humor in the absurdity of it all and the beauty we get to see for only a brief moment.

MEAL TICKET - DEATH AS A PART OF LIFE
It looms over the protagonists. They're just a few pennies away from starving. The artist wouldn't be able to function without the impresario's care. In reality he doesn't feel any attachment to the disabled man. He's a tool to be used to avoid the ever present reality of death. In the end, death is just a means to an end of survival.

ALL GOLD CANYON - DEATH AS AN OBSTACLE
Overcome death and seek your wealth. The prospector's journey is through resilience and fortitude. The final goodbye is kicked away and the man lives on. You have to struggle against it. So, dig for the gold and pray your luck doesn't run out.

THE GAL WHO RATTLED - DEATH AS A TRAGEDY
Death is unfair and unflinching. That was the life of the wagon train. The story pretty much begins with a sudden and tragic death. The only thing you can do is reach out and try to get closer with those around before your number comes up. When it does, it's probably never the right time.

THE MORTAL REMAINS - DEATH AS A MYSTERIOUS FORCE
We march on to our destination, growing more confused of what waits for us. The conversations we have about what love means for you and why my presence of self isn't satisfactory for some. What is each other's experience and can we ever learn of our own when someone passes along that mortal coil? We can't ask questions, the driver never stops.


Also read somewhere that Meal Ticket is supposed to mirror the ongoing struggle in Hollywood and in the art world in general. The true artist is helpless and depends on the producers for almost everything (has no limbs). The producers hardly do anything but collect the money and enjoy the spoils (prostitute). The artist has zero input on anything, doesn't have a say on anything (only time he talks is when he is performing). Finally the true artist is replaced by a cheap side show (the chicken) and killed.
This post was edited on 12/8 at 8:40 am


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