The Ballad of Buster Scruggs ★★★★

These cartoon-like vignettes of the Old West grow deeper and darker as the film goes on, turning into fuller stories. Death is a joke in the first, title story, a tragedy by the fifth, “The Gal Who Got Rattled”, and the overall, morose theme of the last, “The Mortal Remains”. But the double act of Liam Neeson and Harry Melling as the desperate impresario and the outmoded entertainer in “Meal Ticket” are the soul of the thing. Of course the artist recites “Ozymandias”. Pride and ruins in the desert. Our revels now are ended.