The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (R)
In typical Coen fashion, most people in the movie meet ironic or wry deaths, but this time the Coens seem to be actively eschewing any deeper emotional connection between the audience and the characters. They opt for a lighter brush even when the dramatic stakes are already right there in the picture, just waiting for a bold stroke to bring them out.
Take the tale of "All Gold Canyon," which stars Tom Waits as an old prospector who meticulously searches for a gold pocket. Something happens to rupture the peace, and the prospector bellows at the camera, "You didn't hit nothin' important," saliva rocketing from his lips, his hair and face a manic mess. That's the most memorable few seconds of the film because it comes closest to real depth of emotion. But the Coens quickly move on, the prospector never to be heard from again. The best I can say about Buster Scruggs is that it seems as though the Coens picked their favorite actors and wrote them a part specifically tailored to their abilities.