DAVID BIANCULLI

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SMALL AXE
November 20, 2020  | By David Bianculli

Amazon Prime Video, 3:00 a.m. ET

 
MINISERIES PREMIERE: It’s getting tougher and tougher, these days, to determine with any authority what is a movie, a TV show, a series, and a miniseries. The Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was designed as a six-part anthology Western miniseries, intended for television, and a premiere on Netflix. But before Netflix premiered it in 2018, all six episodes of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs were shown at the 2018 Venice International Film Festivalas a reassembled anthology film – where it won Best Screenplay. So all of a sudden, Buster Scruggs was released on Netflix that way, as a movie. And now we have another acclaimed artist, director Steve McQueen, pulling a similarly confusing trick. Small Axe was produced originally for the BBC and aired this past Monday, with five individual films presented as a film anthology series. Three of them were shown at the New York Film Festival in September, and now all of them are being streamed by Amazon Prime Video. The title comes from a Bob Marley song of the same name, quoting a proverb: “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe.” But are we a movie, or a miniseries?
 
 
 
 
 
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