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thumbnail The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018 USA)

Black comedy, Event, Genre, Western , comments closed

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Starring:  Tim Blake Nelson, Willie Watson, Clancy Brown
Genre: Black comedy, western
Duration: 132 mins

Joel and Ethan Coen initially conceived the film as a six-part television series before consolidating the six stories into a feature that premiered at the Venice Film Festival. They have given us a hilarious, beautifully made, very enjoyable and rather disturbing anthology of stories from the old west. Saddle up for a rowdy, hilarity and hellfire western full of riding, fighting, hanging, shooting, gold prospecting and bloody massacres with philosophical musings about the inevitability of dying. Each tale is prefigured with the sight of an old book, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. A hand turns the pages and we see these stories in print, themselves prefaced by an illustrated plate previewing a dramatic incident from what’s to come.

thumbnail The Party (2017 UK)

Black comedy, Event, Genre , comments closed

Director: Sally Potter
Starring: Timothy Spall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson
Genre: Black comedy
Duration: 71 mins

Writer-director Sally Potter’s riotous tragicomedy is both a ghastly social function at which bourgeois lives unravel and the unnamed political opposition party through whose ranks Kristin Scott Thomas’s brittle anti-heroine Janet ascends. She’s the newly appointed shadow health minister, a careerist idealist who believes in ‘truth and reconciliation’ rather than shouting, punching and biting. Yet during the course of a single calamitous soiree, her right-thinking, left-leaning comrades will turn on themselves and one another in an increasingly farcical feeding frenzy. Indeed, when we first meet Janet, she’s pointing a gun at the camera, a harbinger of what’s to come in Potter’s short, sharp satire of love, politics and burnt vol-au-vents.

thumbnail The Square (2017 Sweden)

Black comedy, Event, Genre , comments closed

Director: Ruben Östlund
Starring: Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West
Genre: Black comedy
Duration: 150 mins

A museum director desperate to make a success of his gallery stages a new installation called “The Square” to promote it. It began life as a real gallery installation at the design museum Vandalorum, Sweden in 2014, created by Ostlund in collaboration with producer Kalle Boman (“The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations,” read its manifesto). Not content with satirizing the art world, Östlund also ridicules the media’s insatiable appetite for controversy. Winner of the 2017 Palme d’Or at Cannes.