“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” showcases the Coen Brothers’ wit and morality.
Movie anthologies can be hit and miss, but “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” from Joel and Ethan Coen shoots bulls-eyes throughout. The six, western-themed stories in their new film run the, ahem, range from farce to pathos, but the Coen’s tell each of the tales with gusto and artistry. We expect any movie from the brothers to contain clever dialogue, vivid characters, and twisting plots, but the production values on display here are as exquisite as any period piece from the last 20 years. The Coen’s also ensure that each of the stories here is a shrewd, morality play mining themes of sin and hubris. In their old west, those who are earnest may not win, but they die far nobler deaths than scoundrels.