We do love a good Western here at OC Movie Reviews and we love the Cohen brothers, so given this anthology of six-stories from them, available now on Netflix, it’s a win-win.
The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs sees Tim Blake Nelson (“Colossal“, “O Brother, Where Art Thou”) as a singing, sharp-shooting cowboy who goes by many names and has many, many often inventive ways of killing other cowboys. Most of which, whilst gruesome, are very funny in the black-comedy way we love from The Cohen’s. However, you can’t be the fastest, best shooter in the west forever, can you?
Near Algodones is where James Franco (“The Disaster Artist“, “The Vault“) takes over as, quite possibly, one of the unluckiest men in the west. First, he tries to rob a bank in the middle of nowhere but teller, Stephen Root (“The Man In The High Castle (TV)”, “Spectral“), has other ideas. In fact, he’s as mad as a box of frogs and chases Franco away only for him to be subsequently caught by Ralph Ineson (“Ready Player One“, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi“) and sentenced to death.
When that doesn’t go to plan, for Ineson, Franco is met by a friendly cowboy moving his heard, only for him to discover that he’s actually a thief and Franco ends up at the gallows once more.
Meal Ticket stars Liam Neeson (“The Commuter“, “A Monster Calls“) and Harry Melling (better known as Dudley Dursley from Harry Potter). Neeson is an old, grizzly man making his way from town to town with Melling who has a one-man show.
Melling, with no arms or legs, is perched on a chair and orates to the dwindling crowds on everything, the same spiel over and over again. Neeson begins to get tired of it and looks for a way out, his salvation coming in the form of a clever chicken, for Melling, not so much.
Next, we have All Gold Canyon which features a near-unrecognisable Tom Waits as a prospector. We follow Waits as he descends into a lush, green valley, nature making way as he digs and digs and digs for gold, finally coming across a huge haul, only to then be shot in the back by Sam Dillon (“Boyhood”, “Live Cargo”). Is that the end for Waits and his gold prospects?
The penultimate story is The Gal Who Got Rattled. Zoe Kazan (“The Big Sick”, “Ruby Sparks”) is on a wagon train with her brother Jefferson Mays (“Inherent Vice”, “The Giver”) when he suddenly dies.
This leaves her with just a young-boy helping out with the wagon, but the boy suddenly wants a large payment for doing his job, a payment Kazan doesn’t have. Luckily for her Bill Heck (“The Amazing Spider-Man“, “The Alienist (TV)”) is one of two-men leading the wagon train and he takes a shine to Ms Kazan.
All seems well, but Kazan strays from the wagon train and when Grainger Hines (“Lincoln”, “The Knick (TV)”), the second man leading the wagon train, finds her, she’s slap-bang in the middle of Indian territory.