The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – Everything is Still Awesome

 

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part had a lot to live up to. The Lego Movie was a phenomenon – a first of it’s kind movie filled to the brim with pop culture references and catchy songs – comprehensible to children but widely enjoyed by adults everywhere. So how could Lego Movie 2 possibly hope to compare?

As it turns out, quite easily. Bringing back the impressive cast of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Will Ferrell (amongst countless others), the film tacks on a host of other A-listers to the sequel; Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Maya Rudolph, and Richard Ayoade, to name a few. Fans of The Florida Project are also in for a happy surprise with the casting of Brooklynn Prince as the youngest sibling and owner of the pastel coloured Duplo introduced at the end of the first film.

This Duplo is the crux of The Lego Movie 2. It begins immediately after the end scene of the first film; the new Duplo characters and Emmett meeting in a Close Encounters style set up. All goes well until the the hearts turn into grenades and begin to destroy Bricksburg, one financial building at a time. Amidst the violence, President Business escapes to his golf course retreat (that is not the last Trump joke within the film) and soon Bricksberg is laid to waste by the violent Duplo characters. Cut to five years later – Emmet, Wyldstyle and the gang are living in a Mad Max type apocalypse (with Metalbeard heading up the oil guzzlers). Everything is not awesome anymore.

There’s two distinct story-lines happening in Lego Movie 2. Unlike the first film, more the ‘real’ world is exposed and one of the narratives is based completely on the humans of the film. What was a wry revelation at the end of Lego Movie turns into a complete subplot, which motivates the Lego characters narratives. Finn, the child of Will Ferrell’s Dad, has a younger sister who is desperate to play with him. In her anger at being rejected from the playroom, she steals (“kidnaps”) Wyldstyle, Metalbeard, Uni-Kitty, Batman and Spaceman Benny, taking them through ‘stairgate’ and into the Systar (‘sister’) System.

Naturally, Emmet’s tries to rescue his friends, and along the way there are raptors, time travel sequences, catchy pop tunes and a burning critique of toxic masculinity. In the real world, siblings Finn and Bianca are fighting over their toys and running the risk of having all of them sent to storage (‘stor-ahge’) in the impending our-mom-aggedon.

First and foremost, we should all be thanking casting director Mary Hidaglo for bringing together some of the funniest and most versatile actors working today. It’s impossible to pinpoint who is at the best here, but Tiffany Haddish’s shape-shifting Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi has to be at the top of the list. From the suspiciously earnest vocals of ‘Not Evil’ to the hilarious ‘Gotham City Boys’, Haddish lends an authenticity to Wa’Nabi that works on multiple levels. Though Emmett may be the star of the film, Will Arnett’s Batman gets a lot of screentime – possibly due to the success of Lego Batman – and the matrimonial/love story between him and Wa’Nabi is definitely a highlight.

There are moments where it feels like Lego Movie 2 is taking it’s time, but when it arrives it really does land. Emmet’s time travelling alter-ego Rex Dangervest is an incarnation of Emmett’s worst insecurities, coupled with the trauma of being abandoned under the dryer. Rex teaches Emmet to break not build, and fills his head with conspiracies about brainwashing to try and get him to abandon his friends. The opposition to this violence is Bianca’s Duplo as it turns out they really do want to be friends with Emmet and the gang (even Wa’Nabi who, as it turns out, is just awkwardly honest). Rex disappearing is a metaphor for Finn rejecting the unemotional, tough-guy mindset that so many boys are taught is the right way to behave.

Though the time travel element and  Rex Dangervest are not entirely without issue (if the plot points are motivated by the humans, where did Rex come from and how do Emmet and Rex move unaided), The Lego Movie 2 just about holds it together to result a coherent message about violence, toxic masculinity and the importance of friendship and kindness.

Maybe it didn’t reach the dizzying heights of The Lego Movie, the distinct lack of marketing feels slightly odd here, but The Lego Movie 2 still has a lot to give. It’s full of heart, meta-jokes and even a Ruth Bader-Ginsberg figurine. The credits are worth a watch on their own – I’m glad they are finally getting recognition as the best part of any movie.

Oh, and ‘Catchy Song’ is definitely stuck inside my he-e-e-a-a-d.

Top TV Shows of 2018

There’s been some absolutely banging TV in 2018. From the new season of Doctor Who (come on Jodie!) to the emotionally turbulent Kiri on Channel 4, to binge-worthy Netflix originals like Home and Mindhunter, to the latest iteration of Queer Eye.

Better Call Saul Season 4

Not that they are comparable (though people really love comparing them), but Better Call Saul has surpassed the dizzying heights that Breaking Bad reached in it’s climactic seasons. Better Call Saul has been climbing higher and higher since it’s incarnation, but this season Vince Gilligan and the team have really stepped up the stakes.

There’s an effortless to Better Call Saul which is rarely seen in television programmes. Gilligan takes his time letting the story unfold, there’s no rush for events to happen or for the consequences of actions to take hold. One of the story arcs this season involved the building of Gus’ underground meth lab – something which could have been completed inside one episode. Yet Better Call Saul labours over the small details – the logistics, the manpower, how the workers will live etc. It makes mountains out of molehills and is divine for doing so.

Then there is the chemistry between Jimmy and Kim. You’d be hard pressed to find an opening scene which explains the relationship between two people than the split-screen ‘Somethin’ Stupid’ pre-credits sequence. My favourite part of season 4.

Killing Eve

BBC’s runaway success of this year is Killing Eve, the show that everyone couldn’t get enough of. As well as it’s biting sense of humour, Killing Eve was a nail bitingly tense and highly rewarding thriller. Even better – season 2 is coming in 2019.

Fresh from her magnum opus Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge created one of the most enticing, slick and darkly funny series to hit the BBC in years in the form of Killing Eve. With performances from the excellent Jodie Comer, Sandra Oh and Fiona Shaw, an incredible array of locations across Europe, and enough double crossing to keep us guessing for weeks – Killing Eve is the feminist masterpiece we’ve all been waiting for. I know I’m not the only one who was secretly hoping Villanelle and Eve were going to run off together into the sunset…

The only other thing to say about Killing Eve is that I bought a TV licence just so I could watch it and I have precisely zero regrets.

Wild Wild Country

As documentary series go, Wild Wild Country has to be the best of this year. A cult I had never before heard of, the followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh were a fascinating and disturbing people to follow. Especially Sheelah.

A good documentary needs compelling and intriguing characters, and Ma Anand Sheela, right hand woman to cult leader extraordinaire Bhagwan, is exactly that. A woman of integrity, motivation and a desire to succeed – one never knows exactly what one is getting with Sheela. At times, she seems to be a reasonable person but the stories which filter through from other Rajneesh members tell a very different story.

A tale of clashing cultures, NIMBY-ism and obsession – Wild Wild Country weaves a riveting story throughout it’s arc. Never giving away anything too soon, directors Maclain and Chapman Way keep us guessing for most the season, only to completely floor us in the last few episodes.

Bojack Horseman S5

Every season of Bojack Horseman is brilliant, because… it’s Bojack. Always ready to give us some excellent commentary on celebrity culture, depression, addiction and relationships – season 5 is no different.

Yet, in a way, season 5 is very different to all those that came before. With the added layer of dialogue surrounding the #metoo movement (coincidentally the only show that has actually used #metoo as a jumping off point rather than a cheap storyline), Bojack slides slowly from someone we identify with to someone we might all be enabling.

The more we get to know Bojack, Mr Peanutbutter, Princess Carolyn, Todd and Diane, the more we begin to see more of ourselves in each one of them. How is it that the show about a cartoon horse has become the best representation and refraction of what it means to be human?

Homecoming

In her first move to television, Julia Roberts starred as Heidi Bergman in Sam Esmail’s new Amazon series – Homecoming. Esmail, best known as the brain’s behind Mr Robot (also Amazon), is similar tonally to his previous work yet tackles very different issues.

Set predominantly in the Homecoming facility where military personnel are seemingly recuperating on their return from war zones, Homecoming sets up an utterly compelling dialogue about PTSD, therapy and capitalism. Roberts’ Heidi was a counsellor at the Homecoming facility which we see through flashbacks, but is now struggling to come to terms with what it is she has been a part of.

The format is integral in making Homecoming as compelling a watch as it is. Half an hour episodes mean that it never overstays its welcome, the editing is snappy and the pace never lets up. Flitting between present day and the past (with subtle differences in frame sizing) keeps the tension throughout. Roberts is phenomenal, as is Stephan James and Bobby Cannavale.

Norsemen Season 2

This little known show is the only show about Vikings you need in your life right now. Or ever. Unlike an Amazon show of the aforementioned race, Norsemen is a comedy to end of all comedies – it’s Game of Thrones meets The Office, or some other similarly odd analogy.

Focusing on a small Viking town of Norheim in 790AD and the going’s on of the people who live there, Norsemen critiques and revels in Viking culture to wildly hilarious results. After the failings of Chieftain Orm in season 1, Arvid is now in charge and he has a lot of decisions to make. Mainly regarding his love life. Combined with the pillaging and the conflicts with other tribes (mainly the now no-handed Volk), life isn’t so easy for these Vikings.

The humour is subtle and nothing short of genius. My favourite moment of the season was Volk’s henchman checking his wrist (empty of any watch as it is 790AD after all) and then stating ‘I just like to look at my wrist when people are late’.

Special Mention: Inside Number 9 Live

Making live episodes of TV is becoming a bit of a ‘thing’ right now. Eastenders have done it, TOWIE have done it, even The Simpsons have given it a shot. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see Inside Number 9‘s live episode well… actually live, but I can only imagine it must have been even better than watching it via catchup.

It’s the most meta of meta, as introspective as it can possibly be – in a way that Inside Number 9 does better than any other show. The four series strong show has a way of pulling the proverbial rug out from underneath you every single time, and the live episode is no different. It does so in a way which also makes you question what it is exactly you are watching.

Starting with a seemingly run of the mill episode (an old man trying to return a lost mobile phone to its owner) suddenly becomes something altogether different. Several programming issue cards later (provided by BBC2) it’s not clear at all whether we are watching a live show or a complete digital meltdown complete with the ghosts of Granada studios. It’s basically brilliant. This is the best way to do a live episode – Pemberton and Shearsmith have done it again.

Top 6 Films of 2018

So here it is, another end of year list. 2018 has, by all accounts, been a wonderful year for film. For me, there’s been a fantastic spread of indie films – Shirkers, Apostasy, The Tale to name but a couple of my personal favourites. I’m not a fan of ranking films – it’s difficult to compare films which are remarkably different in subject matter, genre, style and substance and there is little point in comparing something like Shape of Water to the Avengers franchise. The films below are the ones which touched me the most in 2018, and are in no specific order.

So without further delay – here are my top six films of 2018 (yes I know it’s usually either 5 or 10 but I’m rebelling. Six is a nice number).

You Were Never Really Here – Lynne Ramsay

I’ve been in love with Lynne Ramsay’s film-making since I watched Morvern Callar about five years ago. I found it to be one of the greatest depictions of loneliness, isolation and then resounding hope that I had ever seen. Watching You Were Never Really Here is, in a way, an accompaniment to Morvern Callar – both Morvern and Joe are fundamentally alone in the world and in their own heads.

You Were Never Really Here is an unwavering and confident 90 minute rollercoaster guided by Joaquin Phoenix’s traumatised hit-man Joe – a man whose journey takes turns that neither he nor the audience is expecting. Ramsay’s film is violent and gory, but it never does show for the shock-factor. The violence portrayed is a reflection of Joe’s own mind as he tries to do the right thing.

Favourite Scene: The Lake

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik)

I went to see Leave No Trace almost by accident. The screening of the film I’d wanted to see was full (Apostasy – also a fantastic film), so instead of going home, I bought a ticket to see Leave No Trace instead. It was the best choice I made all year.

The story of Will (Thomasin McKenzie) and her father Tom (Ben Foster) is one wrapped up in the kindness of humans, the lasting effects of PTSD and the way our lives are so intrinsically entwined with nature even if we are not aware of it. Everything about Leave No Trace is perfect – the acting, dialogue, script, cinematography is all on point. Granik’s depiction of this small dysfunctional family trying to hold it together is sensitive and heartbreaking, but it also leaves the audience with something we all desperately need right now – hope.

Read my full review of Leave No Trace here.

The Rider (Chloe Zhao)

Striking a poignant chord between fact and fiction, Chloe Zhao’s The Rider tells the story of real-life cowboy Brady who is struggling to come to terms with his life after a devastating brain injury.

The Rider speaks at length about modern masculinity, friendship and what it means to have a dream. It is a very niche narrative – there’s probably few audiences who have been rising stars in the rodeo circuit – but the emotional gravitas here is something that feels universal.

For me, The Rider’s blend of fiction and fact made it such an interesting watch. It felt unpredictable within it’s own narrative, constantly keeping me guessing about Brady’s mental state and what exactly he would decide to do. It’s an utterly fulfilling ride.

Read my full review of The Rider here

Waru (Ainsley Gardner, Casey Kaa, Ranae Maihi, Awanui Smich-Pene, Briar Grace Smith, Paula Whetu Jones, Chelsea Winstanley, Katie Wolfe)

The premise of Waru, and the production behind it, is almost as intriguing as the film itself. Eight Maori women directors individually direct eight separate segments – all in real time – which depict the aftermath of a young child’s death due to neglect and abuse. From the schoolteacher who feels guilt for not noticing the abuse earlier, to funeral mourners – Waru is a deep dive into the effect that death has on a community, and those who are left to pick up the pieces.

Each segment is shot in real time, and in one shot, which makes the technical feat of Waru something that deserves to be watched on that basis alone. However, it’s not just the impressive cinematography that makes Waru feel accomplished – the characters are all incredibly well developed. We are introduced to new characters in each segment, and within a few minutes are already engaged their narrative and emotions.

With it’s realistic depiction of Maori culture to a vibrant conversation on abuse, there’s far more to say about Waru, but perhaps the only thing that needs to be said is: watch it.

Annihilation (Alex Garland)

Annihilation is the only film on this list that I’ve watched twice this year, and I am very close to watching it for a third time. With each re-watch, I notice more and more details that Garland has woven into the backgrounds of scenes, into the dialogue between characters. Annihilation is something to be re-discovered over and over again.

There are a seemingly insurmountable number of ways to read Annihilation. Is it a metaphor for cancer? Is it a take on climate change? Is it a commentary on our deepest desires, identity and the relationships in our lives? It is all of these, and more. Annihilation can read a simple sci-fi film – five brave adventurers exploring the source of a seemingly alien species – or it can be so much more.

Alex Garland has proved himself before with Ex Machina (also one of my favourite films), and I cannot wait to see what he does next.

Read my full review here.

*and a bonus number 6 film*

Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Phantom Thread is like a fairy-tale. Girl meets (much older) man, they fall in love, man gets annoyed at how loudly girl eats breakfast, man loses his touch for creating beautiful dresses, girl poises man, man likes it, the end.

Much like the fabrics that Daniel Day Lewis’ Woodcock works with, Phantom Thread is exquisite. I was fortunate enough to see it on 60mm projection and every single frame felt alive. Between the gorgeous cinematography and Day Lewis’ and Vicky Krieps’ chemistry – Paul Thomas Anderson has made an instant classic. Phantom Thread is textured, layered and doused in a remarkable black humour that only Anderson can create onscreen.

It’s a film which captures something about the human psyche that so few other films ever manage to. We’ve all got our kinks, and we just need to find someone who can get down with them. Now, where are my mushrooms?

Bandersnatch: Well Done, You Played Yourself

Hype for Black Mirror’s new interactive episode started a few weeks ago when some Netflix users discovered a hidden ‘coming seen’ episode on the streaming site. Rumours flew around the internet – what was is Bandersnatch, will there be more, and what exactly does an interactive episode mean?

Readers beware – from here on there be spoilers for Bandersnatch. This is also more of a ‘here’s my experience with Bandersnatch rather than a review, as I will be talking explicitly about the choices I made during.

Interactive it certainly is, though perhaps the best way to describe Bandersnatch is exactly the way the game within the game is described – it’s a Choose Your Own Adventure. I’m not a gamer myself (my most played and enjoyed games are either the Lego series, Kirby or Spyro) but I am married to one, so I got a bit of background on the Choose Your Own Adventure genre of games. One that stands out from the rest is The Stanley Parable – which is described as an ‘interactive storytelling and walking simulator video game’. They key thing about the Stanley Parable is that the freedom of choice within the game is not merely an illusion – you are free to choose the options you desire, which is sometimes (most of the time) against the will of the supremely pissed off narrator. Throughout the game, you (as Stanley) make choices which can end in several different endings – I’ve been reliably informed that there are roughly thirteen different endings. Every choice you make leads to one of these endings, but the narrative weaves itself back in and out of different pathways, which basically means you are never told to ‘go back’ or ‘game over’ – rather, your choices may lead you to the same point that you would have got to anyway, just in a different loop so to speak.

Confused? So was I. As I said, I am not much of a gamer and so my I was initially a bit disappointing that the new Black Mirror episode was going to expect me – someone who likes to be spoon-fed content – to actually make active decisions about the protagonists future. Still, I went in with an open mind and with ample time, just in-case Bandersnatch was going to take longer than the designated 90 minutes Netflix suggests it will. This is a good move – to experience most of the endings, you will need more than 90 minutes.

Bandersnatch is set in 1984 and follows the story of Stefan, a young videogame designer who is looking for an opportunity to complete and sell his game ‘Bandersnatch’ – a Choose Your Own Adventure game based on a book of the same name. Get it? Stefan’s day, and our viewing, starts out with simple choices (Frosties or Sugar Puffs – we went for Frosties) and gradually leans into more divisive decisions which will inevitably and irrevocably change the direction of Stefan’s life.

Bandersnatch is not like the aforementioned Stanley Parable. It does give you frequent opportunities to make decisions for Stefan which change the narrative, but instead of following through when viewers choose certain path, Bandersnatch has a clear set of choices that it wants you to make. If you make the wrong decision (EG: die before the game is completed, or refuse to talk to your therapist about your mother), Bandersnatch will either aggressively encourage you to pick the ‘correct option’, will launch a soft reset where you are taken (without consent) back to an earlier point) or will inform you that your proverbial game is over and that you should go back and try again.

On our first viewing (or playthrough), we decided that Stefan should take the job at Ritman – a move that felt inline with what we knew about Stefan’s character and his desires. This led very quickly to the ‘Bandersnatch’ game being developed by a team in-office, which was then reviewed horribly when it came out. Stefan, without our interfering, chooses to ‘go back’ and try again – implying that when it came round to refusing or accepting the job offer again, we should refuse. Continuing on this path, we ended up with the ‘Netflix Fight’ ending – which was incredibly jarring as it doesn’t tie up any ends and feels more like a bonus, comic ending that the audience should be able to access once they’ve reached a more conclusive ending.

Between the soft resets and the show itself deciding to start again in particular instances, the idea of Bandersnatch feeling truly interactive is kind of lost. Of course, this is part of the narrative – the show is exploring the idea of freedom of choice vs a predetermined pathway – but I didn’t feel that this was effectively translated into the choices onscreen.

At first I made decisions which I felt Stefan would have made – I attempted to ‘keep character’ as it were. It quickly became obvious that this was not the correct pathway – for example, accepting the job at Ritman ended in Colin stating that we’d chosen wrong and we should go back and try again. Though the creators of the show have explicitly stated that there is no right or wrong way to ‘play’ Bandersnatch, there is definitely a particular set of choices you are being heavily encouraged to choose so any idea that I was deciding Stefan’s fate fell kind of flat. There is, of course, the argument that this is exactly what Bandersnatch is intending to do – give the audience the illusion of choice but to snatch the rug out from underneath them – but this feels like it could have been executed in a more sophisticated way.

The other main issue is that the story itself is relatively uninteresting – at least in comparison to the other Black Mirror episodes which have gone before it. It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure which depicts a person trying to create a Choose Your Own Adventure. It’s akin to a novel about someone writing a novel. Sometimes it works, but for the most part the narrative feels sparse and the only thing keeping the audience engaged is the interactive elements rather than a compelling storyline.

Overall, Bandersnatch is a neat idea which feels (like ‘Bandersnatch’ in so many of the endings) unfinished. There are unlimited references to other episodes of Black Mirror (Nosedive, Mental Head to name two), an easter egg playable game and secret endings but none of these things disguise Bandersnatch’s unrealised potential. It’s disappointing because it feels as if it’s on the edge of something quite exciting, but it never gets there in favour of cheap gimmicks and call-backs.

My Bandersnatch experience was most enjoyable once it had finished and I scrolled endlessly through twitter laughing at all the memes.. Unlike with Stefan, my choices here are limited and easy – like or retweet.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Lazy Stereotyping Undermines Original Storytelling

Fresh from the festival circuit, the Coen Brothers latest instalment has landed. It’s being lauded as a masterpiece, the brothers’ greatest work (clearly untrue, Fargo is their only film that can righteously claim that title) and is sure to snap up a few wins come awards season, even though it was released via Netflix (enemy of cinema-goers everywhere, apparently). Perhaps this is a bigger topic for another article, but don’t we want films to be seen and isn’t Netflix a far more affordable and accessible option that overpriced cinema screenings? I digress.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs isn’t a ballad, as the title suggests, and nor is it really a film, as the format suggests. It’s a collection of stories set in the late 1890’s that focus on the ins and outs of Frontier life in America. The stories all rest on a pivotal time period for the people of America – a time of growth, expansion, unfettered violence and change which no-one could ever come back from.

Buster Scrugg’s six vignettes don’t have an obvious thread tying them together, other than the de-romanticising of the Western genre which we will talk more about later, but they do all dabble in death. A brief overview of each segment; the titular ‘Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ stars Tim Blake Nelson as a cartoonish ‘fastest gun in the West’ who prematurely killed by someone wanting his title, ‘Near Algodones’ sees James Franco (ew) fail at robbing a bank and is consequently hanged, ‘Meal Ticket’ explores travelling entertainment and what happens when one isn’t useful anymore, ‘All Gold Canyon’ features a prospector digging for gold in a lush valley and  ‘The Gal Who Got Rattled’ follows a woman on the Oregon trail who meets an untimely end at her own hand. The final segment, ‘The Mortal Remains’ deals with death in a different way – the entire segment could be interpreted as the grim reaper driving his victims to the other side, but it is also the only segment where no-one is killed onscreen.

The Coen brothers take imagery and stories that have regurgitated about the West, the Pioneers, the Gold Rush and more, and put their signature spin on it. Take for example the Cowboy, a staple of American culture – an image derived from the ‘Wild West’. We have two cowboy characters in Buster Scruggs – James Franco’s bank robber and Billy Knapp (Bill Heck) who leads the wagons to Orgeon in ‘The Gal who Got Rattled’. They might look the part but Franco’s character almost ends up strangled by his own horses inability to stop eating, and then dies by the noose anyway, and Knapp is unhappy with his life on the trail, proposing to Alice as a way of escaping and not because he actually feels anything for her.

The romantic image of the good old days is tainted by the destinies of each protagonist in each story – Blake Nelson’s fastest gun may be jovial and singing but he gets shot in the head before his story even gets started. The prospector from ‘All Gold Canyon’ not only destroys the tranquil landscape, but is shot in the back by a competitor ready to steal the fortune that he worked so hard for.

The entire landscape that the Manifest Destiny was written against is critiqued and questioned throughout the film but there’s one aspect which stands out as a glaring oversight at best, racism at worst.

So this is where Buster Scruggs becomes problematic. Its main mission seems to be subverting our expectations and ideas about Westerns (the films of old and the time period itself). Yet it treats its Native American characters as a homogeneous group of villains that can be called upon to attack the white characters as and when the plot depends on it.

The Native Americans are an integral part of the history of America – there is no looking at the American West without making some mention of them. By the late 1800’s, many of the Native Americans were relegated to reservations as dictated by the Government – they were methodically exterminated or forced to assimilate. Yet this group of people is still used as a lazy stand-in for villainy or savagery (or as a basic opposition for genteel white folks) whenever there is need for some action or threat in the narrative.

Buster Scruggs is guilty of using this technique. Native Americans appear in two segments – ‘Near Algodones’ and ‘The Gal Who Got Rattled’. In both segments, they appear as a large group – none are individually named and none have any lines of dialogue. We are not invited to know more about them, just that they seemingly like to inflict violence for no discernible reason. They appear on horizons or in the distance and do so when dramatic tension is required, but their own stories are not investigated or explored

In a film which charts the stories of six different people living in the American West, all six people are white and there are no stories about the Native Americans. In a way, it would have been more respectful to leave them out altogether to avoid the damaging and lazy stereotyping which occurs in the film. Yet again, the Coen Brothers are not stupid. It is not an accident that the Native Americans are underdeveloped and under-represented in Buster Scruggs. This is a leftover tactic from the Westerns that Buster Scruggs draws upon – the John Wayne movies, the Spaghetti Westerns of the 1970’s. Back then racist representation was the norm, but this is 2018 and one cannot plead ignorance anymore.

With the biting commentary on idolised ideology of that era, why not include criticism of the commonly held view of Native Americans too?