The Ballad of Buster Scruggs ★★★½

As of today, I have watched all 17 films directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, except "Miller's Crossing" and "True Grit". I think the scripts for all these films are written by the Coens themselves (correct me if I'm wrong), thus it's easy to capture some key characteristics of their films: they admire dark comedies, they love to make conflicts out of worsen aftermaths of simple initial actions, they like to incorporate spiritualism in their films, and, of course, they pay intense attention to their characters on-screen. The latter, I think, is that one thing that made them two of greatest working filmmakers today.

"The Ballad of Buster Scruggs", their 18th feature-length film, is an anthology of 6 short stories talking about different aspects of living in the wild West. It contains a musical comedy (segment "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs"), a dark comedy (segment "Near Algodones"), a tragedy (segment "Meal Ticket"), an inspirational story (segment "All Gold Canyon"), a romance (segment "The Gal Who Got Rattled"), and, finally, a spiritual tale (segment "The Mortal Remains").

To be honest, I didn't really fancy every single story; the first and second stories are the most interesting, the last story is pretty enticing, while the third and fourth stories are the most pointless and draggy. However, I think this film was simply intended to entertain rather than to deliver moral values or sorts. So, for that, I think the film has done its job. Western genre is surely not a new playground for the Coens (many, if not most, of their films were set in the West), so dialogue-wise and character-wise this is a very safe film. I guess I have to start to get myself accustomed to see Coen brothers' films shot not by the glorious, the greatest Roger Deakins?