The Coen brothers' latest film, straight from Venice to the small screen

"The Ballad of Buster Scruggs", which won the Best Screenplay Award at Venice, will start streaming on Netflix on November 16.

Escape at Dannemora (photo credit: Courtesy)
Escape at Dannemora
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The distinction between the big and small screens has never been blurrier, now that two films and one series that won rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival in September are being released soon on television.
The Coen brothers’ latest film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which won the Best Screenplay Award at Venice, will start streaming on Netflix on November 16. The movie is an anthology film, with six stories set in the Old West. Among the stars are several faces familiar from television, including Zoe Kazan, who plays the very unglamorous part of a vulnerable young woman on a wagon train in the film, and James Franco, as a bank robber. The two played ex-spouses on The Deuce, which recently concluded its second season.
My Brilliant Friend, the HBO series based on the first book Elena Ferrante’s acclaimed Neapolitan Quartet novels, will be shown here starting December 19 on HOT VOD. The series received mostly glowing reviews when the first two episodes were shown at Venice.
Also in December, Alfonso Cuarón’s newest film, Roma, which won the Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice, will begin showing on Netflix on December 14, after it opens in theaters one day earlier. The movie, which chronicles the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 70s, is expected to be nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Cuarón is famous for such films as Gravity and Children of Men.
A fact-based miniseries about a prison break, Escape at Dannemora, will start running on YES Edge on Monday nights at 10 p.m. starting on November 19. It will also be available on YES VOD.
Back in 2015, two inmates serving time for murder broke out of a prison in upstate New York, with the help of a married woman in her 50s who taught sewing there. It turned out she had been involved with both of the inmates and had given them the supplies they needed to tunnel out.
This weird story has an all-star cast, with Oscar-winning actor Benicio Del Toro (Traffic, The Usual Suspects, Sicario) and Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, Little Miss Sunshine) as the prisoners, and Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette (Boyhood, Medium) as their accomplice. This twist-filled story generated huge headlines when it first happened as police closed highways and schools to hunt for the escaped convicts.
If you’re in the mood for more crime, you might want to check out season two of The Sinner, which just started running on Netflix. Each season is self-contained in this series about why people commit brutal crimes that seem inexplicable. This second season stars Bill Pullman, an excellent actor best known for playing the president in the two Independence Day movies, as a detective who is called in to consult on a double murder in a case where the suspect is a 13-year-old boy. The local detective who asks for his help is played by Natalie Paul, an actress who appeared in David Simon’s excellent miniseries, Show Me a Hero. This show is creepy but very addictive.
For something a little lighter, you can tune in to HOT’s Israeli entertainment channel on November 16 at 7:30 p.m. to see Kicking Out Shoshanna, Shay Kanot’s comedy about a soccer player (Oshri Cohen) in Jerusalem. The player is forced to pretend to be gay by a mob boss, as a punishment for flirting with the mobster’s girlfriend, who is played by none other than Gal Gadot, in her last Israeli movie before she went to Hollywood. Gadot is every inch the star here, and you can see what inspired the US producers to cast her as Wonder Woman.
Also on the lighter side, the fourth season of the musical romantic comedy series, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ,is running on YES Drama on Sunday nights at 10 p.m. and is also available on YES VOD. This engaging series is still intermittently funny, although it never quite recovered from the loss of the sardonic character Greg, played by Santino Fontana, in the second season.