buster scruggs early buzz

Tim Blake Nelson plays one of the deadliest and happiest men in the West in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Buster Scruggs isn’t a gunslinger who growls and grimaces, but instead sings and dances and enjoys every moment without thinking it’ll be his last. Everything is just sunny to the titular character of Joel and Ethan Coen‘s six-part anthology film, which is a western with all of the joy and misery we love from those filmmakers.

Happiness is hard to come by in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but Buster Scruggs finds it everywhere he goes. Since the character is a big talker and opens the story, it all begins invitingly with a loquacious character delivering a whole lot of pleasing Coen Brothers’ dialogue. During a recent phone interview, Nelson told us about the eloquent character, the experience of working with the Coen Brothers, what he may direct next, and the challenges of HBO’s Watchmen series.

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Allison Schroeder interview

Writer Allison Schroeder sure knows how to write a real deal feel-good movie. The screenwriter behind last year’s monster hit, Hidden Figures, and the co-writer of this year’s delightful Disney reimagining, Christopher Robin, can seamlessly pull at the heart strings with big or small fireworks, whether in a major tearjerker scene or during a tender moment between two characters sitting on a log. There’s a refreshing earnestness to the Oscar nominee’s work, which rings especially true in her elegantly simple and heartfelt adaptation of A.A. Milne‘s classic stories.

When Schroeder’s name appears in the opening credits of Christopher Robin alongside Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) and Alex Ross Perry (Queen of Earth), you know right away the iconic characters are in good hands. Schroeder recently told us a bit about her work with the director, being inspired by Milne’s words and stories, the trick of writing Pooh-isms, and her first job in the business, working on Pineapple Express.

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Jeff Nichols interview

Jeff Nichols movie hasn’t played in theaters in for two years now. We recently saw another project from the director of Take Shelter and Mud, a short film based on a Lucero song, but not since Loving has he shot another feature. However, based on all the projects he’s working on and the ideas he’s toying with, including an Alien Nation remake and an animated kids movie, we might not have to wait much longer for another Nichols feature. And when we do see his sixth movie, it’ll be a reflection of the times –Nichols is sure of that.

The filmmaker recently spoke with us for an extended interview about his short film The Long Way Back Home, and following up part one and part two of our conversation with him, we now dive into what’s next for Nichols, what he’s been binge-watching, and why he doesn’t believe we’re living in the golden age of television.

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In the hands of director Jeff Nichols, the Alien Nation remake is not going to be just another buddy cop movie. When the news broke that Nichols was going to remake Graham Baker‘s entertaining sci-fi crime movie, it was hard imagining Nichols cranking out a routinely faithful remake. While the 20th Century Fox project could be his biggest project yet if it’s given the green light, the filmmaker says the story is just as personal as his previous films.

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josh singer interview

First Man isn’t an average biopic. Damien Chazellle‘s drama is not a collection of CliffsNotes or an aggrandizing portrait of its subject, the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, who’s played with steel and vulnerability by Ryan Gosling. For a story as sprawling as the race to the moon, Chazelle and screenwriter Josh Singer crafted a thrillingly stripped down, point of view-driven, and as Singer says, repetitive and frustrating story more about loss than victory.

The emphasis on character and mood, not just major events and facts we all know, is a breath of fresh air in the time of the year where we generally sit through mind-numbing and by-the-numbers bio films. Those movies tend to be very easily digestible and risk-adverse stories, but First Man, on the other hand, is uncompromising in its vision and willing to challenge its audience. The journey for Neil Armstrong wasn’t easy, so why would the movie be? It’s another unshakable experience from Chazelle and screenwriter Josh Singer, who won an Academy Award for co-writing Spotlight.

Singer recently told us about his collaboration with the La La Land director, his tireless research and depicting the moon landing, and the haunting final image of First Man.

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“I know a lot of people hate the endings of my movies.”

A lot of people may be an overstatement, based on how much audiences and critics have praised his movies in the past, but director Jeff Nichols is well aware that one or two of his endings have left some viewers frustrated. They’ve sparked plenty of debate, and those conversations haven’t always been enjoyable for Nichols, who dissects his work with a real critical eye. He’s arguably his biggest critic.

Funnily enough, it’s perhaps most beloved and successful movie, Mud, that has the ending he’s rewritten in his mind. He’s still happy with the final image of two legends sharing the screen together, Mud and the late Sam Shepard, but when he recently spoke with us about his Lucero short film, he told of us a different ending he’s imagined for Mud. Nichols also told us about working with Michael Shannon, his thoughts on the ending of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and a ’60s biker movie he wants to direct one day.

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With Sicario: Day of The Soldado, director Stefano Sollima roughened the edges of screenwriter Taylor Sheridan‘s potential trilogy. With Kate Macy (Emily Blunt) no longer around, Sollima felt Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) and Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) unleashed naturally meant things would turn bleaker. A crowd-pleasing thriller Sollima’s sequel is not, and nor should it be.

It’s a suitably bleak and often unpleasant experience that reveals more about Alejandro and Graver without completely stripping them of mystery. The main thrill is watching one of the best actors around, Benicio Del Toro, continue to make you both fearful and empathetic of Alejandro.

With the sequel now available on Blu-ray, we had the chance to ask Sollima about Del Toro’s performance, his time in El Paso and Juarez, long tracking shots, and more.

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Peyton Reed interview

Peyton Reed, the director of Down with Love and drummer of a long defunct Smiths cover band, once again brought some feel-good laughs to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Ant-Man and the Wasp. The sequel was a bit bigger, a little looser, and even Scott Lang was funnier, but Reed and all involved still managed to keep it as contained and as cleanly told as the first movie. Reed’s Ant-Man still ain’t going big for the sake of going big.

Reed basically made what was a large-scale studio comedy with more emphasis on laughs than action. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a buddy comedy, not another save the world story. With smaller but more personal stakes, Reed delivered a sequel that does a lot more than check boxes. We recently had a brief conversation with the director about the sequel, mostly focused on his days in a Smiths cover band, notes from Marvel President Kevin Feige, working with Evangeline Lilly, and two of his past movies.

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For over five years, Jeff Nichols has been talking about trying his hand at a biker movie. The writer-director behind Mud and Take Shelter has yet to write a script, but he knows the story is set in the 1960s and is dead set on making the movie one day. The filmmaker, who is currently working the Alien Nation remake and a script for an animated film, recently shared with us some of his ideas about his potential biker movie, and why he’s intimidated by it.

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Jeff Nichols‘ very first music video is both new and familiar for the filmmaker. The director behind MudTake Shelter, and Loving reunited with a slew of his frequent collaborators, including actor Michael Shannon and cinematographer Adam Stone, to create a music video/short film for Lucero’s new album, “Among the Ghosts.” It isn’t Nichols’ first collaboration with his brother (and Lucero frontman) Ben Nichols, but him directing a short based on a Lucero song was always an inevitability.

The song “The Long Way Back Home,” which is about a criminal on the run, immediately struck a chord with Nichols. It’s not the first time the Mud director has shown a criminal fleeing the law, or told a story about bad blood between brothers. In Long Way Back Home, a man (Shannon) searches for his two brothers (played by Garret Hedlund and Scott McNairy) in a story reminiscent of At Close Range and Nichols’ debut film, Shotgun Stories.

We recently spoke with the director at great length about the short film, his career, and what’s next for him. In part one of our three-part Jeff Nichols interview, you can read what he had to say about the making of Long Way Back Home.

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