Like a lot of people, I think my official introduction to the Coen Brothers occurred in 1996 with the release of Fargo. Up until that point I had watched a few of their films but never with any thought as to who made them or what made the movies entertaining. After Fargo was released, I went back to watch as many of Coen Brothers films as I could find and soon the duo became my favourite filmmakers.

Their most recent film, the Ballad of Buster Scruggs was originally planned to be cut into individual episodes for broadcast on Netflix as a television series, but the project became an anthology feature film instead. It had its world premiere at the 75th Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2018. It was released in the United States on November 9, 2018.

The film consists of six stories about the American frontier. It stars Tim Blake Nelson as Buster Scruggs, along with Liam Neeson, James Franco, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly, and Brendan Gleeson. Each chapter is introduced in the form of a bookend by an omniscient narrator (Tom Waits).

By far my favourite chapter is the first one, a look at the life of a western gunfighter and his eventual fall or, at Buster says, “you can’t stay top dog forever.”

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