Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Killers of the Flower Moon

Tuesday afternoon, Sharon and I went to the Country Club Cinema to see Killers of the Flower Moon. We have started of our annual trek to see all of the potential Oscar nominated films. As of today, the Goldderby web site has Killers of the Flower Moon second behind Oppenheimer on the list of potential best picture nominees. Goldderby has Leonardo DiCaprio second for best actor and Robert De Niro second for Best Supporting Actor for their roles in the film.

Killers of the Flower Moon is a Western crime drama directed by Martin Scorsese from a screenplay he co-wrote with Eric Roth. It is based on the 2017 non-fiction book of the same name by David Grann.

Set in 1920s Oklahoma, it focuses on a series of murders of Osage members and relations in the Osage Nation after oil was being produced on tribal land. Tribal members had retained mineral rights on their reservation and whites sought to gain their wealth. It is disturbing that it is a true story. Officially, the count of the wealthy Osage victims reached at least 20, but it is suspected that hundreds more may have been killed because of their ties to oil.

The ensemble cast includes:
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart;
  • Robert De Niro as William King Hale, Ernest's uncle;
  • Lily Gladstone as Mollie Kyle, Ernest's Osage wife;
  • Jesse Plemons as Thomas Bruce White Sr., a BOI agent leading the murder investigation;
  • Tantoo Cardinal as Lizzie Q, Mollie's mother;
  • John Lithgow as Prosecutor Peter Leaward in the trials of Hale and Burkhart, and;
  • Brendan Fraser as W. S. Hamilton, Hale's attorney.
It is the sixth feature film collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio and the tenth between Scorsese and De Niro. Though the role of Thomas White, the lead BOI agent, was initially written for DiCaprio, DiCaprio pushed to instead portray a nephew of the film's primary antagonist played by De Niro.

As a business leader, I would often talk about letting a room breathe. This is a movie where Scorsese lets each scene breathe. Until the ending, nothing is rushed; everything has a very deliberate pace. The result is a film that is 3 1/2 hours long. I would guess that not very many people in the world have the gravitas to make a movie this length; the studio would be pushing to have the story telling be more economical.

The film works, but it feels long. The performances by DiCaprio, De Niro and Gladstone are very good. Nevertheless, I would bet that it doesn't win best picture. I recommend the film, but would suggest that you wait until it drops on AppleTV so that you can take an intermission like we did with The Irishman.

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