Netflix Review – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: An Comic Anthology of Death in the West

The Coen Brothers make a Western anthology film and remind us all that they are masters of dark comedy.

This is an anthology broken down into 6 different stories. Each one is a different type of Western and all of them are completely unrelated. So, I’ll do the breakdown and analysis of each one separately, then the overall review at the end with a ranking of the vignettes. Is this a lot of work? Yes, but this is the hobby I have chosen and I will not surrender. Since it’s so long, I’m splitting this into two reviews. Don’t like it? Well, neither do I, but I’m doing it.

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

SUMMARY

Ballad - 1Buster.png
It’s impressive he keeps his outfit that white on a trail ride.

Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson) is a singer, a gambler, and a gunman with a cheerful disposition and a penchant for breaking the fourth wall. His well-spoken nature and disarming grin lead people to attempt to bully Buster, which usually leads to him effortlessly killing them. When Buster arrives at the town of Frenchman’s Gulch, he enters into a “gun free” saloon and tries to join a poker game that has just been abandoned. The other players say that they will only allow him to join if he plays the hand dealt to the player who just left: The Dead Man’s Hand. Buster refuses.

Ballad - 2DeadMansHand.png
So named because Wild Bill Hickok was killed while holding it. 

Another player named Çurly Joe (Clancy “Lex Kurgan” Brown), upon finding out Buster’s identity, draws a gun on him to collect Buster’s bounty, but Buster maneuvers him into shooting himself in the face multiple times. He then proceeds to sing a ballad about the departed “Surly Joe” to the delight of the other gamblers. Joe’s brother (Danny McCarthy) challenges Buster to a duel, somehow accusing Buster of ambushing Joe unawares. Buster agrees happily and then shoots the man’s fingers off his right hand. When he tries to draw lefty, Buster kills him with a single shot to the head while looking in a mirror.

Ballad - 3Duel.png
Well, now he’s just showing off. 

He’s about to sing a song about this duel, when he hears a harmonica playing. The Kid (Willie Watson), another singing gunman, comes into town, telling Buster that he aims to prove that he’s the best at songs and duels. Buster agrees to another duel, but is shocked to find that the young man is faster than he is and is shot dead. Buster, now ascending to heaven complete with angel wings and harp, sings a duet with The Kid about all the anger in the world and hope for a better world in the afterlife. The story closes with a page reading that there is a new Kid out there somewhere that’s going to one day meet The Kid, and that it’s a story that’ll be all new, but somehow still the same.

Ballad - 4Duet.png
I wonder if the Kid’ll start wearing white now.

END SUMMARY

This is a combination of the lone gunslinger Western and the musical Western, with Buster humorously being both the man who rides into town wearing iron and also the one who spontaneously leads the crowd into jaunty tunes. This combination probably best represents the Coen Brothers’ sense of humor. It’s a juxtaposition that goes against the standard formula for each type, with the gritty violence of a Sergio Leoni Western put into the Rodgers and Hammerstein world of Oklahoma. The closest thing I can think of prior to this is the Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin film Cat Ballou, but even that didn’t have the explicit violence of this film.

Ballad - 5Ballou.jpg
Btw, this is an amazing movie if you haven’t seen it.

Buster is an interesting character. He resents the fact that many of his nicknames are inaccurate or unflattering, particularly being called a “Misanthrope.” He tells the audience that he never hates his fellow man, because even when they’re surly or cheaters, that’s just part of the human condition and that anyone expecting better is just being foolish. What’s interesting is that this IS a form of misanthropy, believing that people are inherently lousy and that it’s irresponsible to believe that people should be better. This makes it all the more fitting when, having died, Buster’s wish is to go to a place where people just are better. Not a paradise, not a golden city, just a place where he doesn’t feel like he has to expect people to be bad.

Ballad - 6Poster.png
The truth hurts the most.

Willie Watson’s acting isn’t spectacular compared to the all-star cast of the film, but he is a fabulous singer and a perfect fit for his character. The duet at the end of the story is beautiful. I was really impressed with Tim Blake Nelson’s performance and the general quality of the music as well. Given that it was done by Carter Burwell who has done the music for every Coen Brothers movie, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

NEAR ALGODONES

SUMMARY

Ballad - 7Bank.png
Christ, this shot haunts me.

A Cowboy (James Franco) tries to rob a bank but is thwarted by the makeshift-armor-clad Teller (Stephen Root) who knocks him unconscious. He awakes to find himself sitting on his horse with a noose around his neck. He’s told by a lawman (Ralph Ineson) that he was tried by a jury and convicted and sentenced to death by hanging while he was unconscious. The execution is stopped by a group of Comanche warriors attacking the lawman’s posse and killing everyone but the Cowboy. He’s saved from hanging by a Drover (Jesse Luken) who shoots him down after accidentally making him swing for a minute or two. However, the Drover turns out to be a cattle rustler who abandons the Cowboy to be arrested for stealing cattle. The Cowboy is convicted and sentenced to death in less than a minute by a Judge (Michael Cullen). Before the Cowboy is sentenced to die, he spies a beautiful girl in a crowd and mutters “there’s a pretty girl” right before he’s hooded and dropped, killing him to applause.

Ballad - 8Hanging.png
The First Hanging.

END SUMMARY

This is a bank robbery Western, but with the heist going wrong immediately and more time dedicated to the comical circumstances of the would-be robber trying to avoid justice. Ultimately, the Cowboy actually suffers more from all of the events that lead to him from being hung than he would have if he just got crippled by the Teller.

Ballad - APanShot.png
This is somehow not the craziest thing in this segment.

Franco’s general lack of concern about his welfare is one of the more humorous aspects of the portrayal. When he’s asked about last words, he just says that the Teller didn’t fight fair. When he’s brought to the final hanging, he sees a man crying next to him and just asks him “first time?” It’s just so straightforward and disinterested that it perfectly contrasts with the ridiculous things happening around him. It’s got a lot less in terms of actual events than some of the other vignettes, but that’s because a number of scenes drag out to torture the Cowboy and, to an extent, the audience.

Ballad - 9Hanging.png
He’s basically old hat at being hung by this point.

MEAL TICKET

SUMMARY

Ballad - BHarrison.png
More than the lack of limbs, it’s that he doesn’t speak except when performing that’s odd.

An Impresario (Liam Neeson) travels the West with a performer named Harrison (Harry “Hot Dursley” Melling) who doesn’t have any arms or legs. Harrison recites classical poetry, particularly Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias,” Shakespeare Sonnets, the Bible, and the Gettysburg Address. At first, the audience gives generously to the Impresario for the performance, but as he goes to increasingly remote camps and small towns the money starts to run thin. This is compounded by the fact that he has to do everything for Harrison, including helping him urinate. The Impresario starts drinking and whoring to try and ignore the issues, which naturally seems to make everything worse. After a particularly bad show netting them no money, the Impresario sees a show that’s gathering a crowd, revealed to be a chicken that can do math. The Impresario buys the chicken, keeping it in the back next to Harrison. As the cart passes by a bridge, the Impresario gets out and drops a stone to check the depth of the water. He walks back to Harrison smiling. The next shot shows the chicken alone in the back, Harrison presumably dead. If you read the page that quickly is turned as the story ends, it’s made explicit that the Impresario dropped the helpless actor into the water.

Ballad - CSmile.png
This is the smile you get when he finds you after you kidnap his daughter.

END SUMMARY

This is a twist on the survival Western, occasionally nicknamed the NorthWestern, something Liam Neeson kind of already did a version of with his film The Grey. Unlike most Westerns where it’s the conflict between man and man outside of normal civilization that form the basis for the plot, the conflict in a survival Western is between the man and the elements. Similarly, while most Westerns are typically set in the summer to characterize the verdant wilderness, this vignette is set in the Winter to drive home the harsh conditions that Harrison and the Impresario are dealing with as they make their way. Ultimately, though, this becomes a different kind of survival issue in the end, when the Impresario realizes that Harrison is now a mouth to feed that isn’t paying his own way. Meal Ticket indeed.

Ballad - DHarrison.png

The pieces which Harrison recites are shown over and over again and most of them feed somewhat into the final act of the short. Sonnet 29 from Shakespeare is about a speaker who has been an outcast his entire life. Ozymandias’s famous last image is that of the lone and level sands of the desert sweeping away, showing that nothing remains of the once great empire of Ramses, similar to nothing remaining of Harrison’s performance. Cain and Abel from the Bible… well, that one seems pretty straightforward. I always appreciate when appropriate references are used.

ALL GOLD CANYON

SUMMARY

Ballad - EView.png
This shot courtesy of John Ford. If you don’t get that, watch The Searchers.

A grizzled Prospector (Tom “I’m also grizzled” Waits) makes his way along with his donkey to a beautiful valley with a river running through it. He begins to systematically hunt for gold, attempting to find the mother lode (yes, that’s the spelling), who he calls “Mr. Pocket.” For the most part, the story is just following the Prospector’s efforts as he works his way towards the goal. Eventually, he does find the pocket after digging a giant hole.

Ballad - GSmiling.png
Delighted as you would expect.

However, right as he uncovers it and celebrates, a shadow falls over him. It turns out that a Young Man (Sam Dillon) has been following the Prospector and waiting to jump his claim after he did all of the work. The Young Man shoots the older one then smokes a cigarette before jumping in the hole to move the body. However, the Prospector is revealed to be alive, wrestles the gun away from the Young Man and shoots him to death. At the end, the Prospector buries the Young Man in the hole as “his share” and then makes his way back to civilization with his bags of hard-won riches.

Ballad - HShot.png
At least one person threatened to turn the movie off if he died here, that I know of.

END SUMMARY

I’ve seen jokes online about the idea that Tom Waits wasn’t cast for this role, he just surreptitiously appeared out of a tumbleweed when the Coens were discussing the idea of having an elderly Prospector as the focus for a short. I completely believe that. He’s so perfect in this role that I’m not sure I can think of anyone else playing the character. Really, he’s the reason why this segment works at all, because it takes a hell of a performance to captivate an audience when you’re the only thing on screen.

ballad - fpanning
Tom Waits didn’t know he was being filmed during this part.

This is a Western story that’s usually the B-plot in a movie, because it’d be hard to make it into the focus. It’s the Gold Rush (which, while that is a movie, is not a Western). It’s the man out there betting his life on acquiring the fortune that he believes was owed to him. However, and perhaps all too realistically, when he’s done all the work, someone is there to just take it from him and render all of his efforts meaningless. This seems like a shot at the dark reality of the American Myth of Hard Work: Someone out there is always waiting to steal it.

THE GAL WHO GOT RATTLED

SUMMARY

Ballad - IShot.png
This was filmed with the American Gothic filter.

Alice Longabaugh (Zoe Kazan) and her brother Gilbert (Jefferson Mays) are setting off via a wagon train towards Oregon where Gilbert has arranged for Alice to be married to a business associate in exchange for employment opportunities. Shortly after they leave, however, Gilbert dies of Cholera, leaving Alice uncertain of what is going to happen when they get to Oregon. She soon discovers that they buried Gilbert with all of his money, leaving her no ability to pay the boy that Gilbert promised an exorbitant amount to drive the wagon. She seeks help from one of the wagon train’s leaders, Billy Knapp (Bill Heck), and his associate Mr. Arthur (Grainger Hines). Billy asks for time to contemplate the situation, but also agrees to help Alice by scaring off her brother’s annoying dog President Pierce who had been upsetting the other travelers.

Ballad - JBillyKnapp.png
He’s surprisingly well-bathed for a guy on a wagon train. Just saying.

As Billy Knapp and Alice talk, they begin to grow fond of one another. Billy agrees to help Alice’s predicament by offering to marry her and assume Gilbert’s debt to the boy. She happily agrees. Billy informs Mr. Arthur that he plans to retire from leading wagon trains and will instead choose to farm in Oregon. Mr. Arthur seems unaffected by this. The next morning, Mr. Arthur cannot find Alice, so he rides off to find her watching over the returned President Pierce playing with some prairie dogs. Unfortunately, they’re immediately found by a Comanche scout and a raiding party is soon approaching the pair. Mr. Arthur thinks he can scare them off, but gives Alice a gun to kill herself in case the situation seems hopeless. Mr. Arthur successfully kills a number of the raiders, including the leader, but is hit by an attack from a hidden enemy at the very end, seemingly knocking him unconscious. He reveals this to be a ruse and shoots the last attacker, only to find that Alice, believing the attack killed Mr. Arthur, shot herself. He takes the dog back to the wagon train, observing Billy riding towards him, and has no idea what to tell Billy Knapp.

Ballad - KAliceDead.png
I’m surprised her eyes aren’t closed. Really a detail that I can’t quite figure out.

END SUMMARY

This is probably the most traditional Western in the series. It’s a love story told during a wagon train. Billy Knapp is the archetype of the hard-riding cowboy who still has the heart of a romantic. He’s not well-spoken, but he is extremely formal when addressing Alice. He doesn’t seem to talk with her much, but they both seem to recognize the subtext in what each one is saying, something that’s typical of romance in the Western genre. Hell, in Unforgiven, William Munn’s wife is dead for the entire time, but his speaking of her and her impact on his life completely conveys their love story.

Ballad - MAlice.png
It’s also that the first happiness she conveys is when she’s with him.

Mr. Arthur is the veteran trailblazer who doesn’t express his emotions. For the most part, he seems to not care about anything right up until the end, where he becomes despondent over the fact that Alice has killed herself. It’s not certain whether it’s the fact that her death was needless, or perhaps he blames himself, or if it’s the fact that his best friend has now lost the woman he loved, but he clearly is broken up over it. Given that the story explicitly states that he’s unsure of what he’s going to say to Billy Knapp, I’m inclined to say it’s the latter.

ballad - lmrarthur
To have worked so hard and still lost. I think Hines nailed this look.

It’s really the insertion of some difficult reality into such a romantic story that provides the dark comedy, and it is very dark, element, though this probably has the fewest humorous points of any of the stories. Gilbert’s abrupt death is the most prominent example, dropping from cholera in a few hours. The cut used to show the suddenness is a comic beat, even though it’s later the source of drama. The ending, likewise, almost has a comedy rhythm to the revelation, delivering her death as a grim punchline to the situation. It’s pretty much the Coen Brothers’ wheelhouse.

THE MORTAL REMAINS

SUMMARY

Ballad - NCarriage.png
This is when the lights start leaving.

Five people are sharing a twilight coach ride together towards Fort Morgan, Colorado. They consist of René, a Frenchman (Saul Rubinek), Thigpen, an Englishman (Jonjo O’Neill), Clarence, an Irishman (Brendan Gleeson), Mrs. Betjeman (Tyne Daly), and an unnamed Trapper (Chelcie Ross). The five attempt conversation to pass the time, with Thigpen and Clarence saying that they often travel this route with “cargo,” implied to be dead bodies, one of which they have on the roof. For the others it’s their first time, with Mrs. Betjeman planning on reuniting with her husband at the destination.

Ballad - OThigpenClarence.png
They clearly love what they do.

The Trapper, a boisterous man, starts to tell about his previous life with a Native American woman who didn’t speak his language, but with whom he still lived for several years based on body language and facial cues. The Trapper concludes that most people are alike in their needs, saying that humans are basically like ferrets or beavers, all the same everywhere. Everyone else starts to relay their philosophies on life. Mrs. Betjeman says that there are two kinds of people: Upright and sinning. René says that no person can know another, with everyone having to “play their own hand.” He also implies that she cannot know that her husband still loves her now, because she hasn’t seen him in 3 years. This renders her in an apoplectic state, but when René tries to stop the coach, the Coachman appears unable to hear him. Thigpen tells them that the Coachman never stops. To calm the mood, Clarence sings “The Unfortunate Rake.”

Ballad - PCoachman.png
Faceless black clad guy who doesn’t appear to hear commands to stop? Hint.

Thigpen and Clarence then reveal themselves to be Reapers, something that the Trapper interprets as being bounty hunters. Thigpen tells them that he distracts people with a song (as he was singing as the sun set) or a story and Clarence “thumps” them. He says that the key is that the people in the story are “us” but “not us.” He mentions loving watching the eyes of the dying as they try to work out how the whole thing works, but gives a seemingly insincere answer when asked if anyone ever works it out. They then arrive at Fort Morgan’s hotel, the Reapers entering immediately, the other three following cautiously. The Trapper and Mrs. Betjeman enters, the latter saying that her husband is waiting. René watches the coachman go out to pick up more passengers, looking beaten, before finally putting on his hat, accepting his fate, and entering the hotel. The story ends with the line “the Trapper, who had spoken so many words and for so long, no longer had use for them. He settled in for a long quiet.”

Ballad - QHotel.png
It’s night and none of the lights here are that bright. I wonder what illuminates the upstairs?

END SUMMARY

This is both the most allegorical story in the collection and also the one that’s most obviously expressive of the theme of the film.

At first, when there is light on the ride, it appears that this is just a group of people heading towards a destination. However, as darkness falls, it becomes apparent that these people aren’t heading for Fort Morgan at all. They’re all dead and heading for the afterlife. That’s what makes the conversations so important. Each of these people have a different point of view of the world: The Trapper thinks all people are alike, the lady thinks all people are either dedicated to virtue or damned, and the Frenchman thinks that no human can ever understand another. Despite this, they’re all going to the same place in the end. Death doesn’t care about your philosophy, it’s going to come and, like the Coachman, it’s never going to stop. You can do whatever you want to rationalize it, but it’s always how the story ends.

Ballad - RCoach.png
It literally is the Coachman that ends the story. I F*CKING LOVE THAT.

I think the most surprising part for me is Brendan Gleeson’s wonderful rendition of “The Unfortunate Rake.” It’s probably better known as the Country Folk Song “Streets of Laredo,” which has been covered dozens of times, but that’s sort of the point of the song. The story changes over time with each player and each singer, but the ending is always the same. That said, I think that the version Gleeson sings, which is about a man dying from getting an STD from a woman and regretting that he hadn’t listened to his father about how his wicked behaviors would cut him down in his prime, was an interesting choice. I imagine they chose it because it’s a particularly tragic and, by modern sensibilities, unearned death.

FILM ANALYSIS

It’s about Death.

In every story, the main character is someone who is dead but doesn’t realize it yet. Buster says he should have seen it coming because he tried to stay top dog and invited challenge. The Cowboy in “Near Algodones” was doomed to be hanged, even if he managed to avoid the first noose. Harrison had been saved from death by the Impresario when he was younger, only for that same man to later revoke that gift. The Prospector should have died, but it turns out that when the Young Man jumped his claim, he apparently claimed his death for his own. Alice Longabaugh sadly was doomed never to find a husband, whether it be the one her brother chose or the one she chose herself. Each of the characters in the coach is already dead, only realizing it part of the way during the journey (although the Trapper might not have really grasped it until the very end).

The Western setting for each story works because a huge part of the myth (and reality) of the West is that it was filled with death and danger. In these stories we have death due to duel, we have death by execution, death by murder, death by suicide, and… well, just death. The West is filled with the stuff. Think about how many people John Wayne killed and he was a hero. Death was just an accepted risk there. That’s why it’s so much easier for the Coens to make a comedy about death among that setting. They also were able to present so many more variants around a common theme because that’s what we do with Westerns.

I’ve actually had to re-think things while writing this, so my ranking of the segments has probably changed as I went. Ultimately, I think I’d put them like this:

  1. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

  2. All Gold Canyon

  3. The Mortal Remains

  4. Near Algodones

  5. The Gal Who Got Rattled

  6. Meal Ticket

That being said, all of these shorts are excellent and I applaud Netflix for giving the Coens the opportunity to try this kind of movie. I don’t know if this is the best Coen Brothers movie (actually, I do know, it’s not), but it’s definitely a great film.  

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: A Comic Anthology of Death in the West (Part 2)

Check out yesterday for part 1.

ALL GOLD CANYON

SUMMARY

Ballad - EView.png
This shot courtesy of John Ford. If you don’t get that, watch The Searchers.

A grizzled Prospector (Tom “I’m also grizzled” Waits) makes his way along with his donkey to a beautiful valley with a river running through it. He begins to systematically hunt for gold, attempting to find the mother lode (yes, that’s the spelling), who he calls “Mr. Pocket.” For the most part, the story is just following the Prospector’s efforts as he works his way towards the goal. Eventually, he does find the pocket after digging a giant hole.

Ballad - GSmiling.png
Delighted as you would expect.

However, right as he uncovers it and celebrates, a shadow falls over him. It turns out that a Young Man (Sam Dillon) has been following the Prospector and waiting to jump his claim after he did all of the work. The Young Man shoots the older one then smokes a cigarette before jumping in the hole to move the body. However, the Prospector is revealed to be alive, wrestles the gun away from the Young Man and shoots him to death. At the end, the Prospector buries the Young Man in the hole as “his share” and then makes his way back to civilization with his bags of hard-won riches.

Ballad - HShot.png
At least one person threatened to turn the movie off if he died here, that I know of.

END SUMMARY

I’ve seen jokes online about the idea that Tom Waits wasn’t cast for this role, he just surreptitiously appeared out of a tumbleweed when the Coens were discussing the idea of having an elderly Prospector as the focus for a short. I completely believe that. He’s so perfect in this role that I’m not sure I can think of anyone else playing the character. Really, he’s the reason why this segment works at all, because it takes a hell of a performance to captivate an audience when you’re the only thing on screen.

ballad - fpanning
Tom Waits didn’t know he was being filmed during this part.

This is a Western story that’s usually the B-plot in a movie, because it’d be hard to make it into the focus. It’s the Gold Rush (which, while that is a movie, is not a Western). It’s the man out there betting his life on acquiring the fortune that he believes was owed to him. However, and perhaps all too realistically, when he’s done all the work, someone is there to just take it from him and render all of his efforts meaningless. This seems like a shot at the dark reality of the American Myth of Hard Work: Someone out there is always waiting to steal it.

THE GAL WHO GOT RATTLED

SUMMARY

Ballad - IShot.png
This was filmed with the American Gothic filter.

Alice Longabaugh (Zoe Kazan) and her brother Gilbert (Jefferson Mays) are setting off via a wagon train towards Oregon where Gilbert has arranged for Alice to be married to a business associate in exchange for employment opportunities. Shortly after they leave, however, Gilbert dies of Cholera, leaving Alice uncertain of what is going to happen when they get to Oregon. She soon discovers that they buried Gilbert with all of his money, leaving her no ability to pay the boy that Gilbert promised an exorbitant amount to drive the wagon. She seeks help from one of the wagon train’s leaders, Billy Knapp (Bill Heck), and his associate Mr. Arthur (Grainger Hines). Billy asks for time to contemplate the situation, but also agrees to help Alice by scaring off her brother’s annoying dog President Pierce who had been upsetting the other travelers.

Ballad - JBillyKnapp.png
He’s surprisingly well-bathed for a guy on a wagon train. Just saying.

As Billy Knapp and Alice talk, they begin to grow fond of one another. Billy agrees to help Alice’s predicament by offering to marry her and assume Gilbert’s debt to the boy. She happily agrees. Billy informs Mr. Arthur that he plans to retire from leading wagon trains and will instead choose to farm in Oregon. Mr. Arthur seems unaffected by this. The next morning, Mr. Arthur cannot find Alice, so he rides off to find her watching over the returned President Pierce playing with some prairie dogs. Unfortunately, they’re immediately found by a Comanche scout and a raiding party is soon approaching the pair. Mr. Arthur thinks he can scare them off, but gives Alice a gun to kill herself in case the situation seems hopeless. Mr. Arthur successfully kills a number of the raiders, including the leader, but is hit by an attack from a hidden enemy at the very end, seemingly knocking him unconscious. He reveals this to be a ruse and shoots the last attacker, only to find that Alice, believing the attack killed Mr. Arthur, shot herself. He takes the dog back to the wagon train, observing Billy riding towards him, and has no idea what to tell Billy Knapp.

Ballad - KAliceDead.png
I’m surprised her eyes aren’t closed. Really a detail that I can’t quite figure out.

END SUMMARY

This is probably the most traditional Western in the series. It’s a love story told during a wagon train. Billy Knapp is the archetype of the hard-riding cowboy who still has the heart of a romantic. He’s not well-spoken, but he is extremely formal when addressing Alice. He doesn’t seem to talk with her much, but they both seem to recognize the subtext in what each one is saying, something that’s typical of romance in the Western genre. Hell, in Unforgiven, William Munn’s wife is dead for the entire time, but his speaking of her and her impact on his life completely conveys their love story.

Ballad - MAlice.png
It’s also that the first happiness she conveys is when she’s with him.

Mr. Arthur is the veteran trailblazer who doesn’t express his emotions. For the most part, he seems to not care about anything right up until the end, where he becomes despondent over the fact that Alice has killed herself. It’s not certain whether it’s the fact that her death was needless, or perhaps he blames himself, or if it’s the fact that his best friend has now lost the woman he loved, but he clearly is broken up over it. Given that the story explicitly states that he’s unsure of what he’s going to say to Billy Knapp, I’m inclined to say it’s the latter.

ballad - lmrarthur
To have worked so hard and still lost. I think Hines nailed this look.

It’s really the insertion of some difficult reality into such a romantic story that provides the dark comedy, and it is very dark, element, though this probably has the fewest humorous points of any of the stories. Gilbert’s abrupt death is the most prominent example, dropping from cholera in a few hours. The cut used to show the suddenness is a comic beat, even though it’s later the source of drama. The ending, likewise, almost has a comedy rhythm to the revelation, delivering her death as a grim punchline to the situation. It’s pretty much the Coen Brothers’ wheelhouse.

THE MORTAL REMAINS

SUMMARY

Ballad - NCarriage.png
This is when the lights start leaving.

Five people are sharing a twilight coach ride together towards Fort Morgan, Colorado. They consist of René, a Frenchman (Saul Rubinek), Thigpen, an Englishman (Jonjo O’Neill), Clarence, an Irishman (Brendan Gleeson), Mrs. Betjeman (Tyne Daly), and an unnamed Trapper (Chelcie Ross). The five attempt conversation to pass the time, with Thigpen and Clarence saying that they often travel this route with “cargo,” implied to be dead bodies, one of which they have on the roof. For the others it’s their first time, with Mrs. Betjeman planning on reuniting with her husband at the destination.

Ballad - OThigpenClarence.png
They clearly love what they do.

The Trapper, a boisterous man, starts to tell about his previous life with a Native American woman who didn’t speak his language, but with whom he still lived for several years based on body language and facial cues. The Trapper concludes that most people are alike in their needs, saying that humans are basically like ferrets or beavers, all the same everywhere. Everyone else starts to relay their philosophies on life. Mrs. Betjeman says that there are two kinds of people: Upright and sinning. René says that no person can know another, with everyone having to “play their own hand.” He also implies that she cannot know that her husband still loves her now, because she hasn’t seen him in 3 years. This renders her in an apoplectic state, but when René tries to stop the coach, the Coachman appears unable to hear him. Thigpen tells them that the Coachman never stops. To calm the mood, Clarence sings “The Unfortunate Rake.”

Ballad - PCoachman.png
Faceless black clad guy who doesn’t appear to hear commands to stop? Hint.

Thigpen and Clarence then reveal themselves to be Reapers, something that the Trapper interprets as being bounty hunters. Thigpen tells them that he distracts people with a song (as he was singing as the sun set) or a story and Clarence “thumps” them. He says that the key is that the people in the story are “us” but “not us.” He mentions loving watching the eyes of the dying as they try to work out how the whole thing works, but gives a seemingly insincere answer when asked if anyone ever works it out. They then arrive at Fort Morgan’s hotel, the Reapers entering immediately, the other three following cautiously. The Trapper and Mrs. Betjeman enters, the latter saying that her husband is waiting. René watches the coachman go out to pick up more passengers, looking beaten, before finally putting on his hat, accepting his fate, and entering the hotel. The story ends with the line “the Trapper, who had spoken so many words and for so long, no longer had use for them. He settled in for a long quiet.”

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It’s night and none of the lights here are that bright. I wonder what illuminates the upstairs?

END SUMMARY

This is both the most allegorical story in the collection and also the one that’s most obviously expressive of the theme of the film.

At first, when there is light on the ride, it appears that this is just a group of people heading towards a destination. However, as darkness falls, it becomes apparent that these people aren’t heading for Fort Morgan at all. They’re all dead and heading for the afterlife. That’s what makes the conversations so important. Each of these people have a different point of view of the world: The Trapper thinks all people are alike, the lady thinks all people are either dedicated to virtue or damned, and the Frenchman thinks that no human can ever understand another. Despite this, they’re all going to the same place in the end. Death doesn’t care about your philosophy, it’s going to come and, like the Coachman, it’s never going to stop. You can do whatever you want to rationalize it, but it’s always how the story ends.

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It literally is the Coachman that ends the story. I F*CKING LOVE THAT.

I think the most surprising part for me is Brendan Gleeson’s wonderful rendition of “The Unfortunate Rake.” It’s probably better known as the Country Folk Song “Streets of Laredo,” which has been covered dozens of times, but that’s sort of the point of the song. The story changes over time with each player and each singer, but the ending is always the same. That said, I think that the version Gleeson sings, which is about a man dying from getting an STD from a woman and regretting that he hadn’t listened to his father about how his wicked behaviors would cut him down in his prime, was an interesting choice. I imagine they chose it because it’s a particularly tragic and, by modern sensibilities, unearned death.

FILM ANALYSIS

It’s about Death.

In every story, the main character is someone who is dead but doesn’t realize it yet. Buster says he should have seen it coming because he tried to stay top dog and invited challenge. The Cowboy in “Near Algodones” was doomed to be hanged, even if he managed to avoid the first noose. Harrison had been saved from death by the Impresario when he was younger, only for that same man to later revoke that gift. The Prospector should have died, but it turns out that when the Young Man jumped his claim, he apparently claimed his death for his own. Alice Longabaugh sadly was doomed never to find a husband, whether it be the one her brother chose or the one she chose herself. Each of the characters in the coach is already dead, only realizing it part of the way during the journey (although the Trapper might not have really grasped it until the very end).

The Western setting for each story works because a huge part of the myth (and reality) of the West is that it was filled with death and danger. In these stories we have death due to duel, we have death by execution, death by murder, death by suicide, and… well, just death. The West is filled with the stuff. Think about how many people John Wayne killed and he was a hero. Death was just an accepted risk there. That’s why it’s so much easier for the Coens to make a comedy about death among that setting. They also were able to present so many more variants around a common theme because that’s what we do with Westerns.

I’ve actually had to re-think things while writing this, so my ranking of the segments has probably changed as I went. Ultimately, I think I’d put them like this:

  1. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

  2. All Gold Canyon

  3. The Mortal Remains

  4. Near Algodones

  5. The Gal Who Got Rattled

  6. Meal Ticket

That being said, all of these shorts are excellent and I applaud Netflix for giving the Coens the opportunity to try this kind of movie. I don’t know if this is the best Coen Brothers movie (actually, I do know, it’s not), but it’s definitely a great film.  

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Reader Bonus: The Fisher King

Most of the movies proposed by my readers were terrible films or riff-able films, so imagine my surprise when one of my readers decided to select one of my favorite movies of all time for the list: The Fisher King.

If you haven’t seen the movie, rent it on Amazon. It’s $3. Do it right now. I’ll wait.

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You done? You’re welcome. If I make a Patreon, give me a dollar.

fisherbrazil.jpgAlright, first I watched this movie and didn’t think I needed to take notes because it’s not a shitty movie I’m trying to mock, and I’ve seen it at least twice. However, after trying to write the review, I realized that the movie is so deep and beautiful that I needed to have notes just to make sure I remembered all the things that I wanted to put in the review. I’m new at this, give me a break. So, I watched Brazil. Then, I watched this again right afterwards. Cards on the table, Brazil is a more interesting film, but this one has some parts that are right up there.

SUMMARY

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So, in terms of plot, the movie is pretty straightforward (unlike Brazil). Jack (Jeff Bridges) is a successful radio shock jock and professional *sshole who makes some off-the-cuff statements to a caller about yuppies. The caller then goes on a murder-suicide shooting spree at a yuppie bar, which, naturally, wrecks Jack’s career. Three years later, he’s working at a video store for his girlfriend, Anne (Mercedes Ruehl), and hating his life. After seeing an episode of the TV show he was supposed to be on, he goes on a bender and tries to kill himself. Before he can, a pair of yuppies mistake him for a bum and try to set him on fire. Jack’s rescued by a group of bums led by Parry (Robin Williams). Parry speaks in a blend of faux-Elizabethan mixed with regular Brooklynite, and often throws in allusions to Arthurian myth and famous works of literature. He believes himself to be on a quest for the “Holy Grail,” which is a trophy in a rich architect’s castle-like mansion.

Parry is insane and constantly harassed by a vision of a Red Knight, who comes whenever he thinks about his wife or past life. Unfortunately, it turns out that his madness is a result of watching his wife brutally murdered in the same shooting spree that Jack inadvertently caused. Before this, Parry was a professor of literature at Hunter College, explaining why he knows so many references. Jack feels guilty, believing that he caused Parry’s plight, and starts trying to help Parry. Jack follows Parry through his day, seeing how Parry lives within a blend of fantasy and reality. At one point, Parry lies naked on the ground, staring at clouds, and tells Jack a version of the myth of the Fisher King (covered later).

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Parry is obsessed with a girl named Lydia (Amanda Plummer), who he believes to be his romantic ideal. Jack and Anne help set Parry and Lydia up, and go on a successful double-date. However, when Parry walks Lydia home and successfully woos her, he again sees the image of the Red Knight, who he begs just to let him be done grieving and be allowed to move on. However, the Red Knight chases him back to the same place he met Jack, and there, Parry is stabbed and beaten by the same men who tried to light Jack on fire. Parry thanks them, and then falls into a catatonic state.

Meanwhile, Jack dumps Anne, gets his show back, and generally just becomes a professional *sshole again, even after helping put Parry in an asylum while he’s catatonic. However, after hearing a pitch about a TV show involving homeless people, Jack’s conscience finally returns, and he decides to help Parry by stealing the “Grail” in the hopes that it will rouse Parry out of his slumber. He breaks into the castle, steals the cup, and sets off the alarm as he’s leaving, which inadvertently prevents the architect from committing suicide. After getting the Grail, Parry awakens, he and Lydia become a couple, Parry is (mostly) healed from his affliction, Jack and Anne get back together, and presumably everyone lives happily ever after.

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END SUMMARY

FisherWilliamsFirst, I have to address the acting in the movie, because, it’s amazing. Bridges manages to play both the egotistical misanthrope, the broken man who lost it all, and the redeemed believer all in one film. Ruehl manages to deliver some great monologues on love, life, and the world, including when she’s having dinner alone after Jack bails on her, telling Jack off when he dumps her, and telling Jack off when he comes back. She got an Oscar for this. But it’s Williams and Plummer that really steal the show. Williams manages to convey a man who is covering for his own sadness and pain with constant energy and positivity, which, given his real life, is all the more tragic and impressive. It really showcases both his comedic and dramatic talents, often juxtaposing them within the same scene, and he manages to sell it all. Plummer, though she has less screen time, manages to mirror Williams, portraying someone who is broken, but trying to put on a brave and happy face to cover for it. It’s four amazing performances that really work well together.

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Next, the direction and writing. So, if you’ve ever seen a Terry Gilliam film, you probably know what you’re in for with this. Visually, this movie is a spectacle, the dialogue is FisherAnglefabulous, and there are always elements that make it seem just a few steps outside of reality. The camera angles in the movie usually have a Dutch tilt, either to reflect Parry’s madness or Jack’s drunkenness, and periodically a fisheye shot when one of the characters is dealing with a “normal” person, to make it more obvious that even “normal” behavior can seem inane from the right perspective. And that ties into one of the smaller themes in the movie: That everyone is crazy in their own way.

FisherDoucheIn the film, the homeless people discuss things that you’d normally hear about, like the Death Penalty and the Stock Market, they just have odd takes on them. One of the homeless men (Michael Jeter) is a cabaret dancer who just never had his chance… and is probably the wrong gender, although, the scene in which he goes all dancing and singing out is amazing. However, even though they’re depicted as poor, sick, etc., they’re depicted as at least having a level of magic, imagination, and freedom which escapes the more normal people. For example, in the beginning of the film, and when he returns to it later, Jack’s radio booth is lit to look like a prison. Later, when Parry puts a suit on for his date with Lydia, it’s directly compared to his straightjacket restraining him. This could be either a reference to being imprisoned by trying to be “normal,” imprisoned by pride, or both, or neither. This is a Gilliam film, so it’s anyone’s guess.

fisherkingtomwaits.pngAnother great scene in this theme is when Tom Waits (applause) says that the image of being homeless is the only thing that keeps some people from breaking free of the prison of everyday routine. He delivers one of the greatest quips in the movie, too, when Jack points out that a man putting money in his begging cup didn’t even look at him: “He’s paying so he doesn’t have to look.”

The best scene in the movie, and one of the best scenes in film, period, is the first time that Parry tries to talk to Lydia at Grand Central Station. As he is trying to reach her through the commuter crowd in the station, it slowly transforms from a crowd of people commuting in sync to a crowd of people waltzing around the information booth. It’s a beautiful scene, and it combines the magical romanticism of falling in love with the constant, coordinated, but completely emotionally unconnected movement of the commuters on the subway. It’s taking something mundane, and transforming it into a work of art, because it reflects the love that Parry has for Lydia. If you can’t watch the movie, at least watch this scene.

Another notable element is the use of red throughout the film. The Red Knight (a reference to Arthurian Myth) represents Parry’s past and the trauma he’s dealing with, and the construction of the knight demonstrates that. The knight looks like he’s covered in blood and entrails, which we later see is what Parry looks like when his wife’s body was sprayed all over him after she was shot. The knight also breathes fire in bursts, which resembles Parry’s memory of the shooter. Throughout the movie, blue is shown to be surrounding red in background images, from the clock in Anne’s video store to the Chinese restaurant where the double date occurs, representing Parry constructing an illusion around his pain (specifically, because he compares his insanity to the imagination of images in the blue sky).

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Okay, so, I’d be remiss if I didn’t actually address the title. “The Fisher King,” in this movie, is the story of a King who was tasked by God to guard the Holy Grail, but was wounded for his pride when he tried to reach into the flames surrounding the Grail to grab it. The King’s wound kept growing worse, and he tried to have others bring the Grail to him so that it would heal him, but they failed. The King lost all faith in anything. One day a Fool came to the castle, and saw the King in pain and alone. The King asked the Fool for some water, and the Fool brings him a cup. When the King drinks, he’s healed, and finds that the cup was the Grail. He asks the Fool how he could find the Grail, and the Fool says “I don’t know, I only knew you were thirsty.”

So, Parry’s name comes from Parsifal, the Wagner Opera translation of Perceval, which translates to “Pure Fool.” That’s not what the original knight’s name meant (Valley piercer), but it works well within the movie. Parry starts the movie off as the Fool healing Jack, the broken King. When they meet, Parry immediately perceives that Jack is trying to kill himself, and that he’s in a miserable, broken state, and he saves him, first literally, then metaphorically. However, fixing him just makes Jack a victim of his own pride again, at which point he becomes a jerk again, and just buries his own issues under his illusion of success bringing happiness. Then, when Parry is injured, Jack instead must become the knight, retrieving the Grail to heal him, which is more akin to the traditional Arthurian tale of the Fisher King. In short, the roles flip, and they have now healed each other at the end. It’s an interesting take on the story, since the Pure Fool, Parry, ultimately cannot get the Grail, but the redeemed King Jack does. Also, yes, the name Jack is probably a reference to being a wounded King, as is Parry’s real name of Henry.

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There’s a lot to unpack in this movie, but there’s only one more thing I’ll address here. In at least one scene, Parry is quoting Don Quixote, while waiting for Lydia, who clearly plays the role of “Dulcinea” in his life, as a woman who he loves romantically, despite her FisherKingQuixotehaving no idea who he is. It’s a solid reference, but here’s my question: Since Parry is quoting a book about a crazy man obsessed with a false romantic ideal who is in love with a woman who doesn’t know he exists, is he also on some level aware that he is a crazy man obsessed with a false romantic ideal who is in love with a woman who doesn’t know he exists? It’s like when Khan quotes Moby Dick in Star Trek II, meaning he should recognize that his obsession with vengeance is going to damn him, but can’t stop himself. Parry can’t stop himself from being Quixote, but the fact that he knows he’s Quixote actually makes it all the more tragic. I’m interpreting it that way rather than that his madness prevents him from realizing what he’s doing.

Overall, this was an amazing movie that really holds up on re-watching.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

NOTES

Preliminary: Pumped for this. Just watched Brazil to set the mood and to get primed to see “Gilliam” scenes.

0:00 – “Hit the Road Jack” is the opening song. Nice. Jack’s room is clearly supposed to look like a prison.

0:03 – Dealing with Edwin is horrifying. Edwin is falling in love with a girl, but Jack twists that into hatred.

0:04 – The one black car in the cab-sea. And I love DHP as the agent.

0:05 – Jack’s apartment is so 80s, it has copies of American Psycho in the walls.

0:06 – Jack practicing saying “forgive me” while painting his face is amazing.

0:07 – “I’ve got the power” is a little too on point.

0:08 – Bridges nails the reaction. He knows his life is over.

0:09 – Transition shot shows the high-rise and ends on the slum. Also, “BRAZIL” Poster.

0:10 – Fisheye lens of being confronted by a woman saying absolute drivel is classic Gilliam, and it really conveys how ridiculous the banality of some people is. Bridges throwing porn at her is also Gilliam, but in a very different way. And I’m pretty sure she checks it out in the background.

0:11 – “Because it makes me feel better because of how not funny it is.” Man, that’s fucking great.

0:13 – Dutch tilt while drunk, pretty standard, but still good. Cab driver using the catchphrase from the show Jack lost out on, that’s awesome. “Forgive me” sarcastically is a great New York expression.

0:14 – The kid with the Pinocchio doll has balls. Approaches a homeless guy with a toy.

0:15 – Confessing to Pinocchio. What a neat idea.

0:16 – I’d ask where he got the weights on his feet, but apparently you can find anything under a bridge.

0:17 – If there are random gangs of people setting bums on fire in New York, I feel like that’s a bit of a concern. Sadly, nobody brings this up again, which means that even though there was a huge deal made about the uptown shooting at the beginning, dead homeless people don’t matter.

0:18 – 30 seconds in, and Robin Williams is amazing, he perfectly blends Arthurian Prose and modern speech. The bums coming out with a cross and lights is amazing.

0:19 – Robin Williams immediately identifies Bridges as suicidal. Jesus.

0:20 – Every major movement is capped off with a sound effect.

0:22 – Williams’s energy is so amazing, and the fact that the camera is never at a straight angle with he’s on screen makes him seem all the more unnatural and off-kilter.

0:25 – He’s got one eye closed because only one lens in his glasses. My god, Williams was great at this.

0:27 – “Really? You look married.” My god, that’s dark. Williams really has mastered that look of madness and sadness under a mask of joy. Which, I guess is what he was in life.

0:29 – “Kramer vs. Kramer, won an award. Go.” That’s some customer service.

0:34 – My god, the apartment is amazingly constructed. It tells you more about Parry the longer you look at it. The little shrines, the books, etc., all tell you about the character and the life he lost. Amazing.

0:35 – The Red bathrobe over just one shoulder like a toga reminds me of a painting of a man atoning, but I can’t find what it is, so I guess it just fits thematically in my imagination.

0:37 – Parry quoting Don Quixote while sitting atop a car watching a clock is interesting. Parry clearly is Don Quixote, in a way, because he’s a crazy guy obsessed with the ideal of knighthood and he’s on a quest. But, if he knows he’s Don Quixote, does that mean on some level he knows he’s nuts? Or is he saying that Don Quixote might have had a point? It’s like when Khan quotes Ahab in Star Trek II: Is he unaware of the irony, or is he saying that it doesn’t matter, because it’s what he feels driven to do? Parry is in love, and, like Quixote, it’s basically more with a romantic ideal than with any part of reality, but does him referencing it mean that he knows he’s doing it? F*ck you Gilliam, I love you so much right now.

0:38 – I would probably spy on Amanda Plummer too. I get it. Williams somehow makes everything about Parry so sad and yet joyful.

0:39 – Garbage is such an interesting presence in this movie, drawing a comparison of New York and the Middle Ages, and the homeless all appear to be insane, but acting in ways that mirror many of the “normal” people.

0:41 – Parry’s random interjections to invisible people are f*cking jarring.

0:42 – I love Williams’ costume.

0:43 – Nobody seems to care that there’s a crazy homeless guy having an attack in the street. New Yorkers, I guess? Okay, first sight of the Red Knight, and he still looks a bit Jim Henson-ish, but frightening enough. He’s supposed to represent the death of Parry’s wife, which is why he looks blood-spattered, has smoke coming out of him, and periodically has bursts of flame. It works.

0:49 – The Asylum looks like a round table. Well-played, sir.

0:50 – TOM WAITS CAMEO!!! Love it. “He’s payin’ so he doesn’t have to look.” God, I love this man.

0:53 – Is a group of Nuns a Gaggle? Also, this waltz scene is amazing. My god, there’s hundreds of people dressed as commuters waltzing almost perfectly around a disco ball over the information booth. This is one of the best scenes I’ve ever watched, and this is the 2nd time I’ve watched it just for this review.

0:54 – And then it just ends with the train. The illusion broken.

0:55 – Mercedes Ruehl won an Oscar for this movie, but my gosh, this solo dinner was really a great scene.

0:56 – Light it however you want, that’s still Robin Williams’ dick.

0:57 – The captions are censored. Interesting. Also, again, Williams manages to convey so much energy, madness, and sadness all at once.

0:58 – Robin Williams telling the story of the Fisher King is hypnotic.

1:00 – The fool just saw the king needed a drink.

1:02 – Arthur and Guinevere exchange is brilliant. But, man, does it drive home that scene with the girlfriend.

1:04 – Michael Jeter as the homeless Cabaret singer with a mustache should be my screensaver. Also, he’s dead. That’s sad.

1:08 – Okay, if I was Lydia this would be my nightmare, I’ll go ahead and acknowledge that. I probably would have attempted to burrow through the floor from awkwardness.

1:09 – I don’t get why they couldn’t have gotten Parry a shower, but I probably just missed it.

1:11 – That’s on whoever stacked those videos. Also, I love the neon clock.

1:14 – “You have a wonderful set of… Dishes.” It’s at this time I should remember that this movie is actually done by the guy who directed “Huge… tracts of land.”

1:15 – “Behold my magic wand and unleash your golden orbs.” Man, it’s basically poetry.

1:20 – The scene between Plummer and Ruehl doesn’t seem to pass the Bechdel test, but it’s still pretty interesting, watching two very different women approaching dating.

1:23 – I love Robin Williams’ suit, and the line “there’s nothing trashy about romance,” is beautiful.

1:24 – My god, Plummer really nails being awkward and clumsy.

1:26 – The use of Blue and Red in this movie is so beautiful.

1:31 – Jesus, Lydia has had terrible relationships. And Amanda Plummer perfectly nails resignation to the horrible fate. She mirrors the joy, sadness, madness that Williams puts forth in this scene, and it’s impressive as all get-out.

1:35 – Parry begging the Red Knight just to be allowed to move on a little, and then him reliving his wife’s death in such visceral detail.  The camerawork and the color is just amazing.

1:37 – My god, the suit as the straightjacket, Parry thanking them for stabbing him, the train covering up the sounds of his torment, this is an intense minute of film.

1:40 – Not gonna lie, this weird, spontaneous, post-sex breakup thing never made sense to me.

1:41 – “Do you love me?” “I don’t know.” Yeah, seriously, this sequence seems only here to make us realize Jeff Bridges is an asshole. But, it just doesn’t really seem to follow completely logically. I dunno.

1:42 – Ruehl is a hell of an actress, and my god does she look hot in that outfit.

1:45 – I don’t know if that’s how catatonia works, but, hey, good movie mechanic

1:47 – Man, Jeff Bridges really is selling the “I’m an asshole again” thing. Back in the cell.

1:48 – “I’ve got the power” again. And damn, he just snubs Jeter. The Pricks-formation is total.

1:49 – The TV premise is pretty much just to remind everyone that there’s more than one way to view the movie. In case we forgot. Oh, and we’re bringing back the Pinocchio doll, because, again, levels.

1:51 – Christ, the asylum looks terrible. I wonder if it’s an actual asylum

1:55 – You know you didn’t have to wear Parry’s clothes to do this, right? Also, how is that twine holding up that anchor?

1:56 – “Thank God nobody looks up in this town.” Because Batman isn’t real.

1:57 – Stairwell shot is amazing, lighting and angle makes it look reminiscent of MC Escher.

1:58 – Dude, you’re at the front door. The alarm is now pointless. Run.

2:02 – Jesus, movie, I didn’t need to cry here. Yes, you can miss her Parry. You can miss her and move on.

2:03 – So, he saved the Architect by setting off the burglar alarm? Interesting twist.

2:06 – Come on, Jack, you know she deserves better. Show her you care, you asshole.

2:08 – I know the movie ending isn’t real, but it’s beautiful.