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Saturday, October 21, 2023

Killers of the Flower Moon 2023 * * * Stars


Martin Scorsese is one of the most revered and famous directors of all time. You'll never see him make a popcorn flick, you'll rarely get a straight plot from him, and occasionally he'll do black comedy (the most recent being The Wolf of Wall Street). What you will get most of the time is something epic, something that throbs with energy and greed and irony and extremity. Killers of the Flower Moon (his latest) is epic to a point. I mean any film with a runtime of three and a half hours has to be labeled epic. That's the baseline. "Can you find the wolves in this picture?" Yes and um, they're salivating.

But wait a minute, "Moon" is not great Scorsese but it is good. Heck, this is Marty's Gone with the Wind, his "Godfather". The breadth, width, and scope are impressive, the acting raw and reactionary, the camerawork whip pan-like (it is what it is and that's impressive). The storytelling? Well that's a different story (see what I did there). It's a little untidy and that's where I draw the line. The screenplay here by Martin and Eric Roth recycles itself, full of cupidity and hired hits and non-stifled characters that are sheltered. I get that protagonists in Marty's pics are sometimes bad people but this goes way beyond. Example: star Leonardo DiCaprio "kills" it as usual but you've got to wonder why anyone would fully root for his scrape.

Based on a book of the same name, Killers of the Flower Moon casts DiCaprio and Robert De Niro as nephew and uncle involved in the murders of Native Americans via 1920s Osage County (that's in Oklahoma). Their scenes crackle and bruise, a sort of long-awaited reunion of when they together starred in 1993's This Boy's Life. Add a solid time setting, some cogent costume designs, and bright production values and you've got a newfangled Western that's as violent as it is morbidly repetitive. Hey, nobody is of the first water all the time. Scorsese almost succeeds brilliantly in shooting this "moon".

Written by Jesse Burleson

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