All posts by titlerollreviews

Two postgrads on two separate continents talking about films like we should be making them. Maybe one day we will.

The Dead Room

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 (okay)

Veteran voice actor and narrator of ‘The Dead Room’ radio show, Aubrey Judd, returns to his old BBC recording studio. Yet more than happy memories wait for Aubrey in his old haunt.

There is a tradition, a very English and Victorian tradition, of telling ghost stories upon Christmas Eve. It was this tradition which spurred M. R. James, grandfather of the genre, to create ghost stories for his students at Cambridge University. Later published in printed collections, M. R. James’ works fed into the stories of H. P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. Yet while Lovecraft’s cosmic horror and Stephen King’s unique voice predominate pop culture, ghost stories have begun to fade away. The BBC did adapt many ghost stories into made-for-television films through its A Ghost Story for Christmas series which sadly ended in the late 1970’s. Luckily a brief revival in the series occurred during my early teens, when I was terrified one Christmas Eve by M. R. James’ Number 13.

The premise of Mark Gatiss’ The Dead Room reflects the state of the ghost story in modern times, relegated to radio and lamenting better days. The Dead Room acts as a  meta narrative about the archetypal ghost story descended from M. R. James and asks whether the genre remains relevant. Dialogue between Aubrey Judd and radio producer Tara highlight the ghost story’s transition from following over-curious English academics to more personal narratives of past trauma and guilt.

The Dead Room is a fitting analysis of the ghost story but fails to be fundamentally scary. Beyond the immediate frights and flitting tension, The Dead Room lacks the lingering dread of prior tales in the BBC’s tradition of ghost stories for Christmas. Ghost stories need time to build up to their terrifying crescendo and let fear seep into the viewer. The Dead Room’s brief time-span forces the story to hurtle along, robbing the tale of any sting as it concludes events.

The Dead Room’s cinematography plays well within the confines of the BBC’s cramped recording studio and the cast all deliver consistent performances. Yet the tale’s brevity, and Mark Gatiss’ insistence to show his understanding of ghost stories, makes The Dead Room feel like a clumsy addition into A Ghost Story for Christmas.

It is warming to see that the ghost story tradition is not quite dead so to speak, but future adaptations should look to Jeremy Dyson’s Ghost Stories to understand how the ghost story can adapt.

By Saul Shimmin

The Dead Room is available now on BBC iplayer

 

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Nightcrawler: a lack of feeling

Nightcrawler begins oddly. The film’s protagonist, Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), is introduced to viewers while he steals wire fencing. Apprehended by a security guard, Lou notices the guard’s watch and kills him for it. In most anti-hero stories, the spectator is supposed to connect with the lead character. Typically given some tragic back story, the anti-hero usually begins as a normal enough person who starts committing crimes. The anti-hero’s moral fall also heralds their rise towards success, while the spectator cheers the anti-hero on. Symbolising complete freedom from law and morality, the anti-hero lets the spectator live vicariously in a world absent from consequences and everyday constraints. Yet in Nightcrawler’s Lou Bloom nothing can be found resembling the typical anti-hero. Stripped of a backstory and absent of any redeeming qualities Lou Bloom simply arrives into Nightcrawler. Devoid of any moral scruples, no excuses are ever afforded to Lou. Any initial impressions of Lou being an overly desperate man fades as he preys upon others during his rise to the top.

Dispassionate towards its own protagonist, Nightcrawler eschews the traditional anti-hero structure of a flawed character study. Instead Nightcrawler examines the forces which allow Lou Bloom to flourish; capitalism and modern media. What binds the pair together in Nightcrawler’s world is a shared lack of empathy for anything.

Capitalism, characterised by Lou Bloom himself, masquerades behind the language of ambition. Nightcrawler’s opening scene preordains Bloom’s entry into the nightcrawler profession of recording disasters. From a security guard’s watch to ATMs and luxury cars Lou scours L.A for opportunities to exploit until his arrival, by way of a recent car crash, into the nightcrawling trade. From there Lou Bloom commits depravity after depravity to excel in his new career; justifying each new descent with a coldly twisted rationale of business savvy, market demand, and motivational speaking. Lou’s behaviour is naked capitalism in action. He finds a market where he can sell a service and takes any measure to beat his competition. The tragedies that Lou manipulates into fruition is his creation of a product, another part of his nightcrawler service to the ever-needy news networks.

Lou’s ruthlessness is only matched by the media networks purchasing his disaster footage. In green rooms and editing booths, the same news networks projecting concern for local citizens are addicted to the disasters they peddle. Each news bulletin of catastrophe is an overcompensating display of empathy.  In the background the networks tailor each new tragedy into a demographically targeted narrative, which push the boundaries ever further to shock viewers and boost their ratings.

The symbiotic relationship between media and capitalism in Nightcrawler points to a society which has gone numb; hooked on the cathartic sting of fresh tragedy to give it any facsimile of feeling.

By Saul Shimmin

Nightcrawler is available on Netflix for subscribers in the U.K and the film’s trailer is below:

Dark City

Rating: 5 out of 5 (classic)

In an anonymous city plunged eternally in night, ordinary citizen John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakes to find his memories are gone. Suffering from amnesia, Murdoch’s quest to discover his past makes him a target for the police and the vampire like ‘strangers’.

Saddled by an ambitious narrative, Dark City struggles against a plot which can be both scant in detail and overly complex. Dark City does succeed in crafting a coherent conclusion which mainly clarifies the entanglement of plot threads. The likely reason behind Dark City’s limited success in 1998 is the film’s reluctance to guide viewers. The mystery of the strangers and the city’s existence are surreptitiously inserted through Dark City’s beginning. Director Alex Proyas frames information before the camera, but it is the viewer’s responsibility to pick out the answers. Each clue, so sparingly given, do coalesce into a clear web of logic upon retrospective viewing. Attentive viewers will notice the repetition of swirling circles and the changes across characters as their memories are altered by the nefarious strangers time and time again.

Despite Dark City’s weaknesses, director Alex Proyas and production designer Patrick Tatopoulos have conjured a benighted cityscape dreamed up from Kafka, Raymond Chandler and Metropolis. Borrowing dashes from film noir, science-fiction and German expressionism, Proyas’ use of scale affronts the viewer with a world as convincingly real as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Proyas’ concise editing and focus on minute details breathes life into this strange city full of secrets. Some of the special effects are decrepit compared to modern CGI, but Dark City consistently feels like our world if it was bound in ethereal strangeness.

The heart of Dark City queries the essence of the human self. In a city whose memories are the results of experiments, is man a malleable material shaped by his past, or does he have within him the bedrock of a soul? Dark City focuses this debate in John Murdoch, a blank slate bestowed with a reality warping power enjoyed by the strangers. John Murdoch’s empowerment is connected to his own dawning consciousness, an identity created around love. It is John’s connection with love interest Emma Murdoch (Jennifer Connelly) which sparks his individuality in a city of guinea pigs. John’s enlightenment is symbolised by him being the sole man who remains awake as the strangers change the city. Dark City never outright answers its own debate or its surrounding mysteries. The conclusion yields neither tangible happiness nor any clear answers. Instead the viewer only receives more questions, much like life itself.

British actor Rufus Sewell struggles at first to convey an American accent, but that is the only fault in an otherwise excellent cast. Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt and Crystal Maze presenter Richard O’Brien deliver great performances in their respective roles. Perhaps the best among the cast is Kiefer Sutherland as Dr Schreber. From his affected limp and panting pattern of speech to his costume design, Sutherland imbues intrigue into his character’s shadowy past.

For fans of thought provoking science fiction, Dark City is well worth multiple viewings.

By Saul Shimmin

For the trailer, see below:

Sorry to Bother you

Rating: 4 out of 5 (excellent)

In an alternate depiction of Oakland, California, struggling African American Cassius Green (Lakeith Standfield) lands a telemarketing job where he discovers his ability to project a white voice to customers.

Nicknamed ‘Cash Green’, Cassius Green’s rise from lowly telemarketer to peddler of slave labour unveils the nature of capitalism. At its worst capitalism is a god demanding the sacrifice of the poor and the weak while revelling in its own excesses. From self-motivational nonsense spewed by mangers to the evangelical quest for profit extolled by CEO Steve Lift (Armie Hammer), capitalism never stops demanding more.

Cassius Green’s own position in Sorry to Bother you splits between race and capitalism. Sadly Sorry to Bother you’s commentary about race is blotted out by director Boots Riley’s focus on the cost of neo-liberalism. Yet Cassius’ rise to a power caller among telemarketers is an indication of what African Americans sacrifice to succeed. They must jettison their identity and become a safe caricature to their white compatriots much like Get Out’s plot.

Sorry to Bother you’s plot problematically dissolves into an erratic series of fits and starts, but its conclusion is an uncomfortable vision of where our profit driven culture will lead to. Plenty of jokes appear in the film, but Sorry to Bother you is far from the dark comedy sold by its trailers. The film’s latter half discards all humour and becomes a grim spectacle to behold. Sorry to Bother you will be supped upon by film academics, but viewers should be wary that it diverges from its own advertisements while playing loose with traditional narratives. Moreover many of the jokes within Sorry to Bother you are scathingly quick and can only be appreciated by viewers who have suffered dead-end office jobs.

The most important question asked in Sorry to Bother you is whether art is a conduit for social change or if it is just another commodity. This query unfolds through Cassius’ girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson), a radical artist who lambasts capitalism. Detroit’s Banksy inspired graffiti defaces the adverts of mega company WorryFree, who run a series of work houses for the poor. Cassius later finds one of Detroit’s works within the house of Worry Free’s own CEO Steve Lift, now ripped from a wall and framed in gold. Detroit derides Cassius for losing his own identity and helping WorryFree sell slave labour, yet she too uses a white voice to narrate her exhibition, diminishing her message against exploitation.

An unpolished art-house attack on our modern times, Sorry to Bother you has its problems, but it will make viewers see uncomfortable realities long unaddressed.

By Saul Shimmin

For the trailer, see below:

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Rating: 4 out of 5 (excellent)

Set in alternate reality to the normal universe where Spider-Man unfolds, teenager Miles Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider and must take up the mantle of Spider-Man as a new threat menaces to collapse the multiverse.

Contrasted to previous live action adaptations of Spider-Man, it would be easy to dismiss Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as an animated direct-to-video film which had snuck into cinemas. In fact Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a refreshing take on the superhero while also introducing mainstream audiences to Mile Morales, a well-established character in the Spider-Man comics.

Vibrant and hemmed together with cell shading, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse deliberately plays up to the goofiness of comic books with a knowing wink towards the fourth wall. By embracing its innate silliness much like Mystery Men, Into the Spider-Verse achieves the feat reached by no other film sporting Marvel superheroes. Into the Spider-Verse effortlessly flits between levity and a serious exploration of the human behind the mask. Miles Morales’ journey is all too relatable. A young teenager placed in a new high school, Miles Morales feels out of place and uncertain that he can succeed. Given opportunities never afforded to his parents or his larger family, Miles also grapples with his own self-doubt about whether he can live up to the expectations put upon him. Despite its cartoon background, Into the Spider-Verse remains a remarkably down to earth and human tale.

The central element of Spider-Man, of a young teenager being bitten by a spider and gaining new powers, has always been an allegory for puberty. Spider-Man’s struggle to cope with his powers is a reflection of our own journey to adapt from childhood to adulthood as our minds play catch-up with our rapidly morphing bodies. Into the Spider-Verse is the most convincing rendition of Spider Man’s central theme of becoming an adult. It was clear in the live action versions of Spider Man that the actors playing Peter Parker were twenty-somethings blessed with youthful faces. The live action films of Spider Man had young looking protagonists, but they always had the Hollywood sense of ease which an awkward teenager never holds. Disembodied from his voice actor Shameik Moore, Miles Morales truly feels like a young man struggling to adapt to the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of his life.

The villains of Into the Spider-Verse offer some new depictions of Spider-Man’s rogue gallery, but Into the Spider-Verse shines through its bevy of spider-men. Voiced by a stellar cast, favourites were Jake Johnson as flawed and unlucky Peter B. Parker and Nicholas Cage as the hilarious Spider-Man Noir. Cage’s delivery of Spider-Man Noir’s dialogue, all spun straight from pulp detective novels, provides some quick witted mirth for any adults in the audience.

Younger viewers will enjoy the film’s gags and its action-laced plot, but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse offers story arcs and humour that all audiences can appreciate. For viewers who became disinterested in Spider-Man after the Sam Raimi films, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse might just rekindle your interest in the character.

By Saul Shimmin

For the trailer, see below:

Mandy

Rating: 3 out of 5 (good)

Set in 1983 among the unnamed forests of the North Western U.S, Mandy follows gruff logger Red (Nicolas Cage) as an eerie cult leader becomes obsessed with his wife Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). The film is a psychedelic pastiche of 1980’s aesthetics intermingled with Lynchian absurdism and exploitation flicks.

Mandy is contrived for prescribed tastes. The film’s design and events will appeal to followers of Nicolas Cage, 1980’s films and David Lynch. For other viewers Mandy is an enjoyable film which attempts to balance the supernatural alongside a revenge quest. The supernatural aspects of Mandy which dominate the film’s first sixty minutes are superbly crafted. The film is scored by pock marks of visible grain while scenes are swathed in lens flare or stained by colour tints. Strange objects and rituals by the cult seem to be the nightmare spawn of the very pulp fantasy novel Mandy herself enjoys on screen. The cult’s biker gang of enforcers, all heavily inspired by Hellraiser, terrifyingly suggest that cult leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) may have powers after all. Then Mandy is subjected to one scene which dispels all allusions and plonks the plot straight into the well-worn territory of a revenge tale.

Despite a delightfully strange encounter between Red and an LSD dealer later on, Mandy’s supernatural elements devolve into dressing for Red’s quest for retribution. Mandy descends down a particular path which has been better covered by films such as Blue Ruin. Mandy is also plagued later on by details which sadly push the film towards the farcical. Red suffers a fatal wound yet marches on, calmly forging a ridiculous axe and then slicing his way through foes. Red’s transformation from blue collar worker to avenging angel panders to the mad persona affiliated online with Nicolas Cage. Only Cage’s devoted performance stops whole sections becoming ripe meme fodder. Mandy remains enjoyable even if audiences become detached from the film’s events due to either its ridiculousness or the sudden lurches in the plot.

Mandy cannot be damned however for its visuals or its cast. The film faultlessly replicates the feel of John Carpenter films from the 1980’s, as well as borrowing from Manhunter and other contemporary thrillers and horror films. The film is not devoid of uniqueness, with director Panos Cosmatos’ use of lighting, colour and animation converging into an ethereal film of strangeness.  The cast all commit to their roles, with cult members being particularly creepy. Besides Nicolas Cage, Linus Roache is alarming as he displays two symbiotic personalities living inside cult leader Jeremiah.

Mandy is a commendable ode to the grime and the gore of 1970’s and 1980’s cinema, but it is also fairly flawed.

By Saul Shimmin

The Fog

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 (okay)

Nearing its 100th anniversary, the Californian coastal town of Antonia Bay is swept under a supernatural fog, whose lurking terror threatens to reveal bloody secrets long forgotten.

The enduring power of John Carpenter’s best films, from The Thing to Escape From New York stems from their complexity. From multiple narratives to social commentary, Carpenter’s best works remain fresh because they morph into something new with each viewing.

The Fog, by contrast to Carpenter’s classics, is ironically transparent. Directed, scored and partly written by Carpenter himself, The Fog is a shallow thriller which grasps at one idea and overextends that premise into a film. The fog itself, with its connotations of the unknown, could have built a brooding tale of suspense as Frank Darabont provided with 2008’s The Mist. Instead Carpenter focuses upon shipwrecked ghosts who badly mimic slasher horror villains as they butcher the townsfolk. The Fog’s often flat dialogue and variable acting is not compensated by tension or terror despite some decent build ups. John Carpenter strongly displays some of his best direction in the film; especially during the opening sequence where the random acts of ordinary objects create a delicious dread. Despite Carpenter’s visual brilliance, which like ancient alchemy can turn low budget ideas into Hollywood gold, The Fog never becomes an excellent film. The Fog’s biggest problem is that it is neither scary nor engrossing. The film never elicits strong emotional responses or leaves any intrigue in the viewer for a second watch.

Having now watched The Fog and The Prince of Darkness, two of Carpenter’s less remembered works, it is astonishing to see how Carpenter’s ideas have rippled across our zeitgeist. Even his weaker films have shaped or predicated films to come. The Prince of Darkness’ biblical distillation of horror preceded the 1990’s slew of apocalyptic films supping on Christian myth. From the eerie setting of the Silent Hill video games to Netflix’s Stranger Things, The Fog’s distinguishing feature of a town sealed up by something unnatural has been recycled repeatedly. Classic B Movie The Lost Boys borrowed and then developed The Fog’s underused theme of a town bound up by a secret. John Carpenter may at times falter, but his willingness to follow a unique vision has bequeathed a legacy both direct and subtle upon Western cinema.

Despite its flaws, The Fog is enjoyable for Carpenter fans and is a decent film to have in the background on a lazy Sunday.

By Saul Shimmin

For the trailer, see below:

 

 

Assassination Nation

Rating: 4 out of 5 (excellent)

In the aptly named town of Salem, Lily and her three teenage friends feel the brunt of a witch trial as the town’s online secrets are exposed. Assassination Nation is a pleasant surprise which should not be judged by its surface. Suggested by trailers to be an exploitation flick excused by light social commentary, Assassination Nation is actually a damning warning against our internet age.

For all of us, the internet has become our true reality just like the characters of Assassination Nation. The internet is used by Salem’s townsfolk as a facade and the bearer of their dirty secrets. Yet by imprinting both their good and bad aspects online, Salem’s inhabitants risk the wrath of others if their whole selves are ever revealed.

Once the accounts of Salem’s inhabitants are hacked and displayed to the world, the internet ceases to be a haven and becomes a cannibalistic monster as each leak is eaten up by others online. What follows is a vicious cycle of scandal, victimisation and vigilantism as Salem descends into mob rule. Salem’s spiral, both online and in the real world, invokes the perfidiousness of social media. Akin to the events of Assassination Nation, users of YouTube, Twitch and Instagram have risen to fame only to fall and become fodder for the very same platforms.

Mimicking the hyper sexuality displayed across the internet, Lily and her friends reflect the new male gaze. They are openly praised both in person and online for their clothing and being sexually free until it stops suiting men. Once the hacks are released and Salem turns sour, there are uncomfortable scenes as the male dominated mob shame the leading girls. Although difficult to watch, these moments push viewers to honestly consider how men treat women online.

Despite plenty of humour, the highly affected teenage dialogue of Assassination Nation’s young cast, alongside their near constant revelry, is a complete caricature. Looking back as I watched the film, my teenage years were deathly bland by contrast. Maybe I lacked the confidence, money or freedom for teenage misadventure, but even the ‘cooler’ kids at my school were tame compared to Assassination Nation. The glaringly unrealistic behaviour and conversations of Assassination Nation’s youngsters can plunge the viewer back into disbelief.

Weaknesses in director Sam Levinson’s script is compensated by the visual aspects of his story telling. Simple effects, alongside perfectly timed scores and selected songs, add a resonance to events and Lily’s narrative monologues. The screen ribbons into separate columns as teenagers broadcast their personas online during a party. Once the hacks destabilise the town the camera inverts during a long take of a cheerleader rehearsal. The huge American flag in the rehearsal’s background then appears upside down. The flag’s re-positioning is a military signal symbolising that Salem and perhaps the country itself are in distress.

Viewers expecting extensive performances from Bill Skarsgård and Bella Thorne will be disappointed with their brief appearances compared to Assassination Nation’s trailers. Odessa Young is compellingly candid as lead character Lilly but my personal favourite was Hari Nef as transgender student Bex. Bex’s story arc was the most human in Assassination Nation’s manic world.

By Saul Shimmin

For the trailer, see below:

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Rating: 1 out of 5 (almost unwatchable)

Synopsis: Following from the first Fantastic Beasts film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald returns to the magical world of Harry Potter during the 1920’s. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is once again tasked with battling Voldemort’s precursor, wizard supremacist Grindelwald (Johnny Depp).

Despite the exquisite settings, the expensive cast and the extensive use of CGI, I never cared about anything in The Crimes of Grindelwald’s two hour testament to J.K. Rowling’s inability to write screenplays.

The true ‘crimes’ of this new chapter in the Harry Potter prequel series is to repeat the flaws of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them while retaining none of its few positives. J.K.Rowling’s second attempt at adapting her Fantastic Beasts novel results in another mangled and lazy mess. Defying the first film’s conclusions while leaving many questions unresolved, The Crimes of Grindelwald is riddled by plot holes, character twists and a tangle of half realised sub plots. Only the most ardent Harry Potter acolytes will have enough knowledge to understand the film’s incomplete story.

All major characters from the first film are slotted into the new Parisian setting by excuses of varying quality. The Crimes of Grindelwald’s darker tone is to act as a sobering prelude to the inevitable sequel. Starved of comedic relief compared to the first film, The Crimes of Grindelwald is unpalatable as CGI monsters once again rampage across a major city in Marvelesque displays of destruction.  Newt’s brother, Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner) alongside his fiancé Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz) are introduced as part of an unspoken love triangle between Leta and the Scamander brothers. Despite emerging abruptly in typical Fantastic Beasts fashion, the love triangle is the exception to The Crimes of Grindelwald’s failing attempts at maturity. Helped by Zoë Kravitz’s performance as Leta Lestrange and well-timed flashbacks, the love triangle builds into a major mystery. However J.K. Rowling’s garbled screenwriting offers an unsatisfying answer to The Crimes of Grindelwald’s most endearing aspect.

Johnny Depp does his best as Grindelwald, a character whose actions are a mixture of Nazism and Trumpism. Yet Grindlewald and his supremacist cohort never quite emulate the darkness of Voldemort in the original Harry Potter films. Ezra Miller as Credence Barebone and Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander once again excel in their respective roles. Yet the combined efforts of new and returning cast members cannot rescue a film which fails to redeem the series.

The Crimes of Grindlewald is a poor copy of the original Harry Potter films, a series which beyond childhood nostalgia were not great. The dismal quality of the Fantastic Beasts series, much like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, speak of many film studios’ awareness that some brands will print money regardless of what they shove into the cinema.

By Saul Shimmin

For the trailer, see below:

 

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (almost a classic)

An unconnected omnibus set in the Wild West, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs brims with the Coen brothers’ hallmarks of dark humour, social commentary and bleak depictions of humanity.

Boasting a venerable and near endless cast alongside ornate cinematography, the six tales compromising The Ballad of Buster Scruggs are a return to form by the Coen brothers. Not every yarn will be well received but any duds are compensated by their neighbours. Particular favourites were the supernatural ‘The Mortal Remains’, and Tom Waits as an eccentric prospector in ‘All Gold Canyon’. The worst story was ‘The Gal who got rattled’ which despite Zoe Kazan’s performance was dull and too long.

No other contemporary directors have so markedly moulded the Western as the Coen brothers. The brothers’ adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No County For Old Men birthed the New Western style of film including Wind River and Sicario, while their remake of True Grit ushered a renaissance for the classic Western in mainstream cinema.

The chimeric nature of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs reflects the Western’s position as an umbrella genre. The unifying theme of the divergent tales is change, often wrought violently in the West to the benefit of the bad and to the suffering of the innocent. The brutal re-invention seen in some of the film’s stories symbolises the shifting meaning of the Western beneath its surface.

Innocence is a flickering rarity in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Even the seemingly good within the anthology are corrupted in some way. The lack of moral distinctions in the Wild West is exemplified by the eponymous Buster Scruggs. Sporting the spotless garb of a ‘White Hat’, Buster Scruggs’s vanity and blood-lust is anathema to the morality and the restraint of the archetypal hero Buster’s wardrobe emulates. By deconstructing the Western in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the Coen brothers reveal what history so often is; a myth built upon the silence of the vanquished which blankets the worst excesses of generations past.

Unorthodox in structure yet devoid of their regular cast, the Coen brothers are somewhat restrained in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs despite Netflix’s bottomless finances. It may well be that the directing duo are following the Western genre and morphing once more.

Much like fellow Netflix original Hold the Dark, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs deserves viewing in a cinema, not to languish buffering upon a laptop with a half-asleep internet connection.

By Saul Shimmin

For the trailer, see below: