Killers of the Flower Moon has got to be a contender for the most righteous motion picture of the decade; so much so that the governor of my adopted state might well take exception to the film’s overall message, declare it too “woke,” and ban it from ever playing at Disneyworld, possibly all of Florida, and certainly the State’s public school system.
The saga takes place in the early part of the 20th century in Oklahoma’s Osage Indian country, but this is not the turf scoped out by Oscar Hammerstein. This is the real Americana and much of it is hard to take. Scorsese’s movie is epic and ugly and filled with very powerful stuff. I was surprised at how much I learned during the two hundred plus minutes it took for this motion picture to conclude.
You got that right, by the way. Two hundred plus minutes. That is a three-and one-half hour stint. And, long as the film is, more time is needed to properly tell this story. But who would sit through that? That is the movie’s problem. To get this motion picture down to a manageable length, key story points are rushed, or given short shrift.
The result? As the film goes on… and on, it all gets a bit unwieldy. And despite all that running time, in the end, the movie barely does justice to the story it seeks to tell. The rush to sum it all up, I found rather sad (as in pathetic).
Everyone in the movie is terrific … and, more times than not, the performances given by character actors I have never seen before, managed to eclipse even Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio who, as usual, were very much at the top of their game(s).
Costumes, sets, camerawork, the score, the editing… all first rate. Yet there looms that investment of time that is tough for any moviegoer in one sitting. If Scorsese had only asked, I would have urged him not to make this as a motion picture, but rather as one of those eight-to-ten-hour mini-series that HBO used to do so well. That is why the form was invented in the first place; it is what would have put this story in the same pantheon as Alex Haley’s Roots. It deserves no less than that.
It is an Oklahoma sans Broadway tunes, one never alluded to in Saving Grace, and introduced only peripherally in HBO’s Watchman. John Ford touched on some of these indigenous themes in his epic Cheyenne Autumn, but it too was overlong and unsuccessful with filmgoers.
If you first read David Grann’s 2017 best-selling book of the same name, on which this film is based… and do so before going to the theatre… this Martin Scorsese reader’s digest movie version could then be a worthwhile trip down memory lane. I found that to be true with the Bonnie Garmus novel, Lessons in Chemistry. Could be the same thing just might apply here. (Although friends who are reading Grann’s tome tell me it is a bit of a slog… and hardly a page turner.)
Pack a lunch… see this movie… but be prepared for wanting more of a meal than you will get from this feast on the screen or in your lunch box.
And then there is Past Lives. There have been many times in the Academy’s history where a dark horse candidate such as this lovely, very tiny film would surprise everyone and take away the evening’s top prizes. That will not happen this year. Scorsese’s movie, Oppenheimer, and Barbie will see to that.
Greta Lee, who I first saw on Apple TV’s The Morning Show, leads the trio of actors who are all so effective in this poignant tale. Teo Yoo, one of the film’s two male leads, will break your heart, and John Magaro is very solid in his role as a husband doing his best to keep his cool. The movie will eventually be streamed on Paramount+.
Finally, there is Dicks: The Musical. Not for everyone. Maybe for hardly anyone. Remember that Florida governor mentioned earlier? Fuhgeddaboudit. When do you begin to suspect a film might just be a little too gay? How about when Nathan Lane is the straightest/most conservative thing about the movie?
As of now, the film is only playing in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. You may draw what conclusions you will from that. I will give you this: there are some laugh out loud moments in this Parent Trap gone gay hoot of a movie. If you are going, you may want to borrow a friend’s pink Barbie outfit… or something very purple.
Follow Barney at: www.cagneyandlacey.com
To purchase “Cagney & Lacey and Me” click or go to: