Friday, January 5, 2024

Best of 2023: Number Two

I braved the almost three and half hour running time of Killers of the Flower in a theater, and I will say, I was never bored; didn't even take a bathroom break. And that's coming from someone whose chief complaint about movies these days is they're too damn long. But Killers of the Flower Moon almost didn't feel long enough. I could have watched Scorsese align the crimes committed by these early twentieth century white men with crimes committed by his later twentieth century white men for two more hours. At least!

By making changes to the structure of the story, versus how the story is relayed in the book, he turns it into a classic Scorsese set-up. It is no longer a whoddunit. It is a "these assholes did it" story, and that makes it all the more horrifying and heartbreaking, especially in the context of the central "love story" between Mollie (Lily Gladstone) and Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio). How could he do what he does to her? But then again, how could we do what we did to the natives of this continent?

Lily Gladsstone's Mollie is the heart of the film, and her performance is so luminous, the film would not be as good without her. And that comes back to my wanting even more of it, and especially her.

I know there have been some complaints about how this story perhaps should not have been told by a white man, and how the story centers more on the whites, and not the Osage. I get that. But Scorsese is also our greatest living filmmaker, and his making this movie means that many, many more people will now learn about this horrible history.

If I have any complaint about the film it's that the Ernest character is so evil, and so dumb. It was at times difficult to watch that for over three hours. And Scorsese is no stranger to centering his films on dumb, bad men! But in all of those other films, I've found something to identify with, or sympathize with, or even root for. But not here. Ernest's crimes, this nation's crimes, are just too horrible.

Killers of the Flower Moon will begin streaming on Apple TV+ on January 12th.

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