Showing posts with label Martin Scorsese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Martin Scorsese. Show all posts

Friday, October 27, 2023

Killers of the Flower Moon (Movie Review)


After oil is discovered on Osage Nation land in Oklahoma, Osage people are being murdered or die under mysterious circumstances.

So let's first just address the elephant in the room.  You know I don't like overlong movies and at three and a half hours, this film certainly falls into that category. Directors, especially our auteurs, can't seem to want to part with any of their creation.  But it's not just the fault of the auteurs. A recent Vanity Fair magazine article reported on why movies are getting longer.  

In 2002, the average length of a movie was a teeny-bit less than two hours. So why have movies become so long today? As a top agent says “Because producers have gotten so short." The now notorious producer Harvey Weinstein wasn't nicknamed "Harvey Scissorhands" back in his producing days for nothing.  He would cut the films he produced "with relish," but today's producers don't appear to have the skills to work with the directors and stand up to them. Nor do they have the feedback they once had with fewer test screenings during the pandemic. If viewers are fidgeting or leaving early during a screening, producers might try to get the director to make cuts but without that kind of feedback, self-indulgent directors seemed to just take off.

And then there are the streaming services who are making their own films, which has put pressure on the studios to let directors do whatever they want, despite the fact that long films cost more to make and thus need to make more at the box office.  Who wants to say no to director Martin Scorsese and lose him to Netflix?  Well, someone must have said no because they lost him with this film to Apple (it will be streaming on Apple+ in the coming months).

But Scorsese is unapologetic about his three and a half hour long film.  

He says...

“Make a commitment. Your life might be enriched. This is a different kind of picture; I really think it is. Well, I’ve given it to you, so, hey, commit to going to a theater to see this."

Spoken by a true auteur.

But he's right. It's a three and a half hour commitment (plus a half hour of previews), and if you can make that commitment, it will enrich you, but I am unapologetic about overlong movies. I believe that Scorsese could have told this story in two and a half hours instead of three and a half and it would have been even more enriching, but before those of you who have already seen it and loved it get all mad and yell at me, that is the end of my rant.  

Now here is the good news. This is an important story and an important movie.

Based on the book "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI" by David Grann, this is the true story of the Osage Indians who in the 1920's were the richest people per capita in the world because of oil discovered on their land and the white men, who not only preyed upon them, but murdered them for shares of the wealth.

As a bit of background for those of you who haven't read the book, mineral rights to the oil, known as "headrights," were distributed equally among the tribe members. Since headrights couldn’t be bought or sold—only inherited—outsiders had to either marry into an Osage family or become a legal guardian. In 1921 the federal government passed a law requiring Osage members to prove “competency” with money, or else be assigned a financial guardian, and a lot of the Osage people were deemed “incompetent” and assigned a white guardian. Lawyers and marriage-minded suiters swarmed the area to become guardians or marry into the family to hopefully inherit the mineral rights.  And then the "Reign of Terror" - the murders - began. (I wish the screenplay by Scorsese and Eric Roth had done a better job of explaining all of that because I think it was a bit confusing in the film).

The film focuses on Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) who has just returned to Oklahoma from WW I to work for his rich rancher uncle William K. Hale (Robert De Niro) aka "King." And he acts like a king, too, on the one hand an ally to the tribe while at the same time, plotting to get their money. Ernest's brother, Byron (Scott Shepherd), is also there. 

Ernest is not a smart man and not a very nice man, either. He drives a cab for rich Osage tribe members, and in his spare time, robs them along with his brother.  But then King puts the idea in Ernest's head that he should court Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone), a rich young Osage woman whose family members are mysteriously dying. Ernest actually likes Molly and she likes him too and the two marry. But like I said, Ernest is not a smart man and not a very nice man.  Mollie, who has diabetes, finds herself getting sicker and sicker. 

A "Reign of Terror" is afoot as more and more Osage tribe members are murdered or die mysteriously.  No one seems to care until finally a contingent of the relatively new federal government's Bureau of Investigation led by Tom White (Jesse Plemons) arrives to solve the mystery and that investigation would lead to the prominence of the FBI.

This is a beautifully photographed epic film that not only exposes yet another dark side of America and the looting of our native peoples but will probably be hailed as one of Scorsese's best. 

At 83, Scorsese is a national treasure.  His films never cease to amaze and this is one of them. The acting ensemble is stellar and DeNiro and DiCaprio give the performances of their lives.  And newcomer Gladstone is at the heart of the film.  Her face expresses the quiet stoicism of what native Americans have endured since the white man came along. 

Oh, and in true auteur style.  Scorsese gets the last word in the film during his original and inventive epilogue!

Rosy the Reviewer important film that you will want to see. I predict it will win all of the awards this year. But pack a lunch! (now streaming on Apple+)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)