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9/10
Easy to enjoy, hard to say why
martinlucas-469-20796823 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I'm truly amazed at the naivety of so many of the reviews here. The Coen brothers don't try to make simple narrative films working within the conventions that so many of their viewers expect. It's ludicrous to say things like story six should have been number five, or to allocate different ratings to the different stories, or even to complain that the red indians are not fairly represented! The Coen brothers are fascinated by the way that over thousands of repetitions, enormous numbers of rules have become hidden away among the narratives that are produced as films, and they love to subvert and play with those hidden rules. One simple example: at the beginning of 'Fargo' a frame appears that says " This film is based on a true story". In fact there is no true story. When asked why they put the statement up, one brother said " because we always wanted to make film that started like that." Now if that sounds like it's somehow cheating or breaking a contract between the viewer and the film makers, ie the opening statement is a fact though the rest of the film is of course actors working through a script, it means you haven't realised there aren't really any rules, just umpteen conventions that have accumulated in popular films especially the Western genre, and blunted their capacity of to make fresh and new connections with us. So, one reviewer says that the first story is a good old fashioned western that they wish had been extended. It's not. Buster is a ludicrous mid 1950' s Gene Autrey like figure. His clothes, even his guitar, are completely anachronistic in the rough tough greasy setting of his segment , his shooting skills are impossible, every element in his story is an outrageous overextension of a traditional western, so, the Coen brothers take the genre forward to a ludicrous conclusion and he abruptly dies and flies off to cheesy bluegrass heaven. We are now a bit unsettled and confused about what might happen in the following segments. Since they are all stunningly realistic with arbitrary insertion of death, disaster, and coincidence we cannot just sit back and work our way through the usual tropes. A bank robber has a miraculous escape from hanging, as they always do in westerns? Nope ten minutes later he'll be at the end of a rope again but this time.. Gotcha! He dies. By now the film has you firmly in its grip, anything can happen, and it does, we can't hide safely behind the settee of our expectations, as brave old prospectors, pathetically disabled actors, cheeky little dogs, occupants of a stage coach, all take their chances in life, and we find that we care!

As the jolly bounty hunter in the stagecoach says, if you can get your quarry drawn into a story you can pounce on him before he knows it. In a Coen brother's film it's quite dangerous to make our usual identifications with key characters, you can't afford to relax.

The underlying message of this film is simple,enjoy the movies, but remember most of the them tell us reassuring lies, a film like 'The Ballad..." that is really trying to reinvigorate Western genre, works to escape the comfortable rules of underlying logic, consequence and fairness, and best of all to remind us that in the end, of course, like most of the key characters in this film, sooner or later, we all die.
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8/10
The Coens return with the most unique movie of the year!
philipposx-1229016 November 2018
The Coen Brothers are some of the most popular and also best movie directors currently working. They created one of my all time favourite movies in The Big Lebowski (1998), and some of the best movies of their respectable decades such as the cult hit Fargo (1996) & the Neo-Noir Western No Country for Old Men (2007). And now they return in 2018, together with Netflix, to present the most unique movie of the year!

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs tells six individual and self contained storys in the Wild West. As usual, the movie looks stunning. It is beautifully shot, has some of the best cinematography of recent years and it's just a joy to watch. Also the composed soundtrack is really fitting. As said, the movie is cut in six minor portions: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Near Aldgones, Meal Ticket, All Golds Canyon, the Gal who got Rattled & the Mortal Remains.

They do not have anything particular in common plot wise, but thematically they all tell the huge story of the Wild West - the dark & crazy, sometimes sad side of it. Because make no mistake, this is a really brutal movie. While the first story is very big on comedic relief, the later chapters get really dark, especially the third having a heartbreaking and strangely poetic ending. The fifth story was probably the most cinematic story, since it told a beautiful little tale that could've been easily explored in a regular film. And the last story is basically only one huge dialogue. It's remarkable at how the Coens write their dialogue - it's eventually only people talking about their lifes and out of nowhere the mood changes into complete danger and suspense. The acting of the over all many performers was great as usual, with especially notable performances by Liam Neeson, Tom Waits & Tim Blake Nelson.

There are a few tiny things that bothered me (would've liked a bit more of Gleeson), but these are minor concerns. The Coens are back with another tightly written, thought provoking and fully enjoyable movie that reflects on not only their recurring themes/patterns of violence & fantastic dialogue but also to tell the huge story of the Wild West in its most heartbreaking fashion.

This is the most unique movie of the year!
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10/10
In this day and age, this is a real gem of a movie
alex-125018 November 2018
Finally a movie that feels genuine start to finish and a movie that entertains. You are never sure where it starts and where it will end,all the characters immediately feel real without wasting any time. And perhaps most importantly, this is a movie that does not insult your intelligence like almost all other movies do.
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10/10
How did his treasure fly under my radar???
ruthann-416 November 2018
I am a huge Coen Brothers fan, and a huger Tom Waits fan. This is a little bit of heaven. Take time to watch and make your own mind up. I am so happy that the old times of being tied to a studio is gone. Netflix, et al, has provided us with independent and unique movies. But this particular independent movie hasn't suffered some that other have. This is prime Coen Brothers with an a-list cast.
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8/10
Aesthetically beautiful with (I thought) a clear narrative
katemcameron18 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
As always from the Coen Brothers, a cleverly written film where the script alone is pure entertainment, and every scene is visually stunning

I also thought there WAS a clear narrative linking each story that became apparent almost immediately, due to what a surprise it was in the first instance, which (SPOILERS) was that the main character dies in every story. Now, I admit that that was not quite the case in "All Gold Canyon" and "The Mortal Remains", but in both instances I thought that pretence was put to good use- When the prospector steels the eggs, you imagine the owl will kill him, when he is then shot by 'mister pocket' you are sure that he must really be dead. In "The Mortal Remains", I felt that it left you hanging deliberately, because any one of the three coach riders could be next.

Once this theme is established, it elevated the suspense as you begin to ask yourself "who will it be?", "Can I get attached to this character?" "How will it happen?"

Ok, well he got out of the last noose, he must be about to get out of this one too.

Will the angelic looking boy somehow overcome his disability and kill his father? Because I really don't want him to die...

This prospector is surely going to the grave, but how?

The happy life these two have the possibility of creating is too lovely for one to die, which makes the love story all the more bitter sweet and beautiful.

Is she going to kill the frenchman? Is the mad trapper going to get them all, like he does ferrets? Is the driver even human? Will a highwayman get them? Ah! Those two are murderers, so how is this going to happen?

It added an extra layer of suspense and more possibilty for twists and turns in the plot, as well as weaving in little lines and details that give the audience slivers of information while making you want to ask even more questions.

Am I the only one who saw this death theme? Or am I completely making it up in my head?!

A very enjoyable film either way.
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9/10
More Astounding Moviemaking By The Coen Brothers
jburtonprod-802-75902917 November 2018
This movie has an accumulative effect. The stories range from funny to grim to harrowing to ironic to haunting to horrifying. You barely have time to recover from one before you're thrust into the next one. The format is set up as a dime Western book where we get to see six of the stories. There is a real authentic western feel to them. A real grit.

Bruno Delbonnel's cinematography is spectacular. Wide sweeping vistas, majestic mountains, stylized towns, all beautifully captured. There's also a surreal feel to some the stories. Imagine if 'Pulp Fiction' were all western stories. And on that train of thought, TBoBS succeeds in many areas where 'The Hateful Eight' did not. A great collection of short movies by the Coen Brothers.
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6/10
Smart, Well Done & Boring
doveed17 November 2018
How do you rate a movie that is very well done, but you just don't connect with it at all? I love the Coen brothers, and I watched this with an open heart. Not every Coen brothers movie knocks it out of the park, but all of them are at least smart and interesting. The same holds true for this one, though I'm sorry to say that I found myself bored throughout most of it.

Six stories is a lot to process in one sitting. The problem for me was that I would be watching one of the segments, trying to understand its significance or find something to appreciate story-wise, and then we moved on to the next tale.

There was nothing wrong with it and I would consider watching it again some time with a fresh perspective. This movie did seem to have a grasp on itself and I trust that the Coens knew what they were doing. It was very unique and beautifully shot, but I think this one ranks low on the Coen's filmography. And if this wasn't a Coen brothers movie, I would probably be more dismissive of it.
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9/10
The Dark & Crazy Side of the Wild West
portmanrobson12 October 2018
This is a fantastic movie - beautifully shot and acted showing the dark and bleakly funny side of the lawless Wild West. If you love the Coen Bros (who doesn't?) then you'll love this.

The movie is made up of six different stories - so you get 6 for the price of 1!

Highly recommend.
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10/10
An instant classic: I cannot praise this magnificent film too highly.
philip-davies3121 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I agree with all of the '10 out of 10' reviews here. This is a superb piece of authentic Americana, and a beautiful meditation on the history of the old West.

There is so much in this magnificent film, and all of it IMHO perfect. It stands far above most contemporary films.

I particularly admire the elegiac tone, which the comically surreal first episode sets up by parodying all the popular dime novel tropes. Once the nonsensical hyperbole of this cheap tradition of stereotypical tall tales is amusingly disposed of, we can proceed with the sheer cinematic poetry that follows.

In so many ways, this film is the definitive Western epic, and the truest and greatest tribute to the heart and soul of that vast American experience that I have yet seen. It captures the grand simplicity of all great things. Yet it is in small, precisely observed details that this Homeric telling of tales channels the immortality of the American West - such details lodging like Indian arrows in the stunned mind.

These recollections are now intimately my own, fixed for all time. At random I see again the hard men, made dangerously irritable by the boredom of sobriety in a ramshackle tavern under the prohibition of their dry County - - - then the burrows of small prairie dogs felling the charging horses of an Indian war-band and thus helping to save a white man's life - - - then the smiling-through-tears of a man condemned by ill-luck to hang for the second time, attempting awkwardly to make conversation with one of his fellows awaiting their fate on the town gallows, who is weeping openly, by asking him, 'This your first time?' - and who in the next moment observes a young woman in the watching crowd who smiles sweetly up at him, as he thinks, 'That's a pretty gal' as if his imminent death were an impossibly distant prospect, whereupon oblivion immediately supervenes - - - then I am amazed and profoundly moved by the spectacle of the performing quadriplegic child-prodigy exploited by a travelling showman, who begins his every performance of literary classics, before unlettered hicks in obscure towns, with Shelley's portrait of total ruin, 'Ozymandias, King of Kings,' until finally this so-styled 'Wingless Thrush' is murderously supplanted when the money-grubbing showman on whom he must absolutely rely for all necessities, owing to his radical handicap, invests in a rival's more profitable attraction, a 'Pythagorean Pecker' of a novelty chicken, who can by trickery be made to seem able to solve mathematical problems - - - then the film takes off Sergio Leone's Italian style of epic Western in an eccentrically contrived bank robbery scene where the bandit is foiled by a cashier armoured by pots and pans hung around his person, as if with the progress of civilisation the domestic use of metals is overcoming the casting of bullets - - - then there is the edible golden yolk of an eagle-owl's egg frying on a pan like that which an ancient prospector in a remote region also uses to pan for crumbs of the mineral that is so much less enriching than the sustenance freely provided by unspoilt nature - - - and then I see that the sole survivor of a tragic household, consisting also of a young brother and sister, who were travelling hopefully West through the savage hazards of the Oregon Trail, is a nervous and unloved little terrier - incongruously named 'President Pierce' after the President who's pro-slavery policies set the stage for Southern secession and the savage bloodletting of the American Civil War - - - and on and on we are conducted along the lost tracks of a America's painful birth, lined with the anonymous and unvisited graves that compose the very soil of it's growth - conveyed, as in a trance, from one breathtaking scene to the next.

The last episode - and they are all linked by Death, as another reviewer here rightly observes - is definitely in it's correct place to sum up, in it's sophisticated and witty dialogue of characters who are trapped aboard an increasingly disturbing stagecoach journey, the sublime tone of our now concluding journey through tragedy, dark comedy and patient endurance, leavened by fugitive glimpses of happiness and hope, glimpsed throughout our progress towards that undiscovered land, indifferently a land of glory and damnation as it is sensed alike by the religious and the profane. This recalls not only Ford's seminal Western, 'Stagecoach,' but even more the European cinema of Victor Sjöström's haunting 'The Phantom Carriage.'

(There is perhaps also something chillingly Kubrickian in the revelation that the hotel at journey's end is an abode of Death, like the 'Overlook' of 'The Shining.' The shooting location for the Overlook Hotel's exterior was in fact Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood in Oregon - Oregon being of course the destination of the pioneer wagon trains.)

The native Americans are here, as well, of course, in their old, unapologetic guise as efficient terrorists dedicated to the starkly simple and inarguable cause of the survival of their people against the unstoppable destiny of the White Man.

Here is the sad and simple truth of the American experience: It does the troubled dream of America credit, and enriches a wondering world with a deeply humane experience.

I cannot praise this magnificent film too highly.
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6/10
Started well but couldn't keep it rolling
chris-278-20807319 November 2018
The first 17 minutes were the highlight, and it went downhill from there. That first segment, "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs", was excellent. I could watch an entire movie based on that character, played extremely well by Tim Blake Nelson. It was interesting and funny.

"Near Algodones" kept me interested, and I enjoyed the characters, but there was no take away, so it kind of fell flat.

"Meal Ticket" was worthless and should have been cut altogether. It was extremely boring and sad.

"All Gold Canyon" and "The Gal Who Got Rattled" were enjoyable and interesting. Good characters and beautiful cinematography. Both segments kept my interest.

"The Mortal Remains" had some interesting dialogue but it fell off and didn't seem to have a point.

So one segment was fantastic, three others were pretty good, and two were completely forgettable. A mixed bag, but I generously give it a 6/10.
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6/10
Dark comedy ends up just dark
hlahorner17 November 2018
Six separate stories of life in the old west, all visually stunning, well written and acted, some more enjoyable than others. The first story, about the namesake Buster Scruggs, is by far the best. Fast, clever dialog, funny and pays homage to classic Westerns. It easily could have been expanded into a full movie. The second story, which is very short, is full of irony and quite good. The next three stories take a bleak and depressing turn, lose the humor and go on much too long. Another reviewer said it best that although they are well done, it's hard to connect to the characters or stories, and ultimately are boring. I hung on hoping some of the dark wit would return, but it never did.
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9/10
Good content finds the right format
vidagabi-429-80318719 November 2018
Well, this is pretty awesome, and it is the right example of how moviemakers should take advantage of Netflix. This movie, -a collection of shorts- wouldn't make a hit in the theaters but definitely make a brilliant and worthwile watch at home in front of the TV. Way to go, more of this please, Netflix!
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10/10
One of the best western films EVER period.
brandonjmccain18 November 2018
Settle in on your couch and or favorite chair. Because this is a long, beautiful and amazing film. I'm a huge western fan. I'm very picky about my westerns. This blew me out of the water. You need to realize what your getting yourself into. This is a heady movie that is ahead of its time. The stories are beautifully written. And the backdrop of the old west makes it over the top. I can't remember the last time I hung on every word in a movie. The last story dialogue was out of this world. Pure gold. I love Tom waits. And his role was PERFECT. They nailed it on the head Probably my favorite story. We all should thank Netflix. Without them this film would not be possible. We all should realize we are in a golden age of entertainment. All you people who complain. Or say "It was so boring" are taking actual good movies for granted. There has never been a better time to be alive for movies. This should be in theaters allll over. And I'm watching it in the comfort of my own house on my couch. Crazy. Don't watch if you want a good ole western with the same plots we've been watching forever. Watch it with an open mind, and you will walk away appreciating life. Mad props guys. You knocked it out the park. Thank you for your hard work. You brought stories to life with such beauty, horror, humor, hope , fear ,despair and joy.
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7/10
A hit and miss collection of shorts unlike anything else you'll see this year
frosts-6609113 October 2018
I was fortunate enough to see this at the LFF with the Coen brothers present. During their introduction they mentioned how they wrote each chapter as a series of shorts over 25 years, and it certainly felt like this both in good ways and bad. Each story was completely different from the one either side of it and none were short of originality. Stories unfolded in the way only a Coen brother's film could - a style that I have always admired.

What was slightly disappointing was its lack of continuity. Each of the stories are completely contained and the final short was one of the most disappointing for me ending in quite an anticlimax. I understand these shorts are independent of one another but had they intersected in some way I think there could have been a much more satisfying conclusion. But the subversion of that expectation I also admire, my brain was just full of the interesting situations that could have unfolded had these characters come into contact with each other - as per a Tarantino film. It could also have ended with a different short as the 5th story for me (and the gold panning segment) was arguably the best.

Aside from the story itself the film has great visuals, some amazing one liners and incredible acting performances - especially considering the lengths actors went to in order to get into character for just a 20 minutes segment of a film. Overall expect 6 Coen brothers shorts sewn together with the thinest fabric imaginable and a time at the cinema like you haven't had all year.
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10/10
Gorgeous cinematography!
bobotn-1520918 November 2018
This movie rates a 10 just for Tom Waits!!! The fact that the stories are all Westerns, which I love, is worth another 10.

Loved the 6 diverse stories, the acting, the scenery; Cohen Brothers hit another home run.

Watch it! It's funny, dark, quirky, sometimes sad, always unexpected.
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7/10
a simple review for those who have already seen it MAJOR SPOILERS
MbeckMovies17 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. I gave it 7 stars, although I feel a second viewing will likely lead to me wishing I had given it 8. It seems that a lot of the reviews here, even the ones that give it high marks, might still be missing the thread of it all. The stories ARE all related, and they are all about death. Every story uniquely captures the moments of a persons life just before their death. What makes all this interesting is the gold miner story and the final story. I think these two episodes really and subliminally distract you from that fact. I don't know, I guess I'm not bringing anything new to the table, I just keep seeing the same comments about how people wished the stories were connected, and that the last two stories were reversed in order. I think once you make the connection, you will see that the stories are connected and the last scene has to be last. It's the only one that takes the viewer to the other side. either that, or I'm seeing things that aren't there...
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3/10
What Movie Did You Guys Watch?
arlosanchezofficial23 November 2018
I have loved the Coen Brothers since I was thirteen years old and have appreciated and admired their craft and style. Every film they make is wildly different from the other, while maintaining that same Coen Brothers feel. When I saw their last outing, 'Hail Caesar,' I felt a pit in my stomach. After so many years of making wholly original and engaging films, have they lost their luster? After watching 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,' I feel like I'm witnessing a slow but steady descent for the Coens.

This movie had my full interest with its first story; the unpredictability of the Buster Scruggs character had me wondering what he was going to do next. I expected him to be a recurring character that tied the stories together, but no such luck. Then came James Franco's story, which had a promising setup, a hilarious bank telling side character, and an abrupt ending that brought the story nowhere. Okay, I'm still interested. Then I was subjected to four horrifically boring segments that all went absolutely nowhere with no satisfying payoffs or memorable moments. I would have described the rest, but I struggle to remember anything about them.

I don't know what the Coen Brothers are doing anymore. What was the point of this movie? Was it to relay that all stories of the Wild West don't have satisfactory payoffs or actual endings? Was this movie a metaphor for greed? I mean, a majority of the characters get into their predicaments over greediness, but again, there's no payoff. The movie doesn't even end on a high note; the final story is just confusing, uneventful and yet presents itself like a revelatory thing. To see this movie get such high praise is baffling. There is no way anyone who enjoys an actual cinematic experience can claim they were interested the entire time. In fact, I'm sure the Coens dumped this film on Netflix because they knew people could fast forward the slower scenes, the sometimes overbearing dialogue and the many, many musical numbers that drag on for much too long and bear little importance to the stories being told. Take off your blinders and chill out-- This is not one of the Coens' best films, and it's most certainly not even close to being one of the best movies of the year.

I hope their next film is a good one.
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10/10
Shakspearean Western
marmac3293521 November 2018
Magnificent...Bravo Coens...I could not look away.
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10/10
Completely Unexpected
tiki_chik16 November 2018
I went into this collection with no way of knowing what I was getting into. I laughed so hard at certain points I thought I was going to pee my pants. Not too long after, I found myself sob out loud, once, in total heartbreak. I can't say I'm surprised that one or two critiques have lolled over their lazy brains to call this 'slow'...unless someone is having gratuitous sex and fouling up their ears with unnecessary explicates, few people can find entertainment in the quiet intensity between people when nothing is spoken. There is beauty in these vignettes. Realization and laughter and a myriad of emotional wealth if people would slow down for a half a minute and allow themselves to FEEL. Well done, Cohen brothers. Well done.
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9/10
Six short stories made into a great Western
Holt34417 November 2018
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was one unique western, it's 6 short stories and every single story brings something fresh and unique to the movie, the two first stories had great gunfights, nice music and the humor was on point, hilarious. I want to see James Franco in another western as he did great! Over to the most dark and depressing story, Meal Ticket, it was just superb filmmaking from start to finish with some great acting with almost no words from Liam Neeson.

My two favorites was All Gold Canyon and The Gal who Got Rattled as they felt like a true and realistic western, beautiful landscape with some superb cinematography made it look beautiful. Tom Waits as the gold prospector made it fun and interesting, he nailed it! The 5th story had the best writing and again some great cinematography, the characters and actors were all interesting to follow and likeable. The Coen Brothers have created something special and unique here with this movie, I recommend it to Coen fans and also western fans!
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3/10
Begins awesome and then goes downhill
chevolek20 November 2018
It has 6 Stories (my rating for each is next to each title): "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" 8/10, "Near Algodones" 7/10, "Meal Ticket" 2/10, "All Gold Canyon" 6/10, "The Gal Who Got Rattled" 6/10 and "The Mortal Remains" 2/10

The movie has great visuals, great cinematography, great soundtrack and some of the stories have unexpected twists (some funny, some dark).The movie begins awesome, funny, fast paced but then it goes downhill, stories get more depressing each time. Less than the first half of the movie is only worth watching.
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4/10
Not quite sure what this is..
keaganm-561674 January 2019
You know those movies that are supposed to be amazing, critics rate it 10/10 and you get your hopes up just to find out that its not even close, yeah this is one of those. The first story i loved, if they made a movie on just him i would've loved it 9/10 for sure. Second part. Again good, not as good as the first one but with james franco as the lead on it i found it entertaining. 7/10. Then. The meal ticket. What in the hell was that. The most useless and boring minutes of my life. I had to stop myself from turning it off. 1/10. In my opinion this film would've probably been a 6/10 if it werent for the sour taste this one left in my mouth. We move on to the next. This one recovering a bit more and regained some intrest. The 2 other parts were pretty much the same as the 4th story at around a 5 or 6/10. Overall not sure what the hype was about. And if you think im exaggerating about meal ticket 2 of my family members fell asleep on that part alone.
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6/10
Uneven
bgar-809329 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Some of these were interesting but some just didn't pull me in. Like others I liked the Buster Scruggs part. I liked the James Franco one but it didn't really add much. I also liked the one at the end in the stagecoach. The rest I could have done without all together. Really they could have made a whole stagecoach one with those characters that continued into the hotel and I would have been really intrigued. It all looked good though so there's that.
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5/10
Beautifully shot, & written but doesn't hold attention well.
gamemechs27 November 2018
You will fall in love with the surroundings, and majority of well written dialogue. The stories depicted many common scenarios from the western times. As the movie went on I lost interest and realized it just a few random stories that are not connected my interest meter drop slowly BUT! The last story had me on the edge of my seat..Thats where I had peak interest. I really want to know what happens in that last story. It spoked me! LOL! I'm still thinking about the last story...I need to know what happens. I guess thats where the movie will recapture people.
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10/10
Masterpiece.
tmaslov6323 November 2018
I just love the dialogue. And everything else. I never review here, but since this movie is so awesome, I just wanted to share my impression. Recently i've been very disappointed in new movie releases, and this one brought back my faith in movie industry. Thank you, Coen's. Stay with us for many years more.
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