South Dakota State University's Student-Run Independent Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Student-Run Independent Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Student-Run Independent Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is one of the most powerful films I have ever seen

I have a complicated relationship with Martin Scorsese. 

He’s a film maker who has been hailed as one of the greatest of all time, making generation defining movies like “Taxi Driver” and “Casino” considered by critics and audiences alike to be untouchable masterpieces. Up until this point, I never really understood the hype, and it’s not due to lack of trying.  

When I was a senior in high school, my friend and I decided to watch the iconic film “Goodfellas.” After watching it, if you were to ask me to tell you what my least favorite film of all time was, I would have first said “Transformers: Age of Extinction” followed quickly by “Goodfellas” as an honorable mention. 

To this day I can’t stand the movie. I think scenes go on for way too long, the plot feels directionless, pointless, and outside of a few iconic scenes it all blends together. Also, I’m not really into mob movies, so that doesn’t help. 

The reason I bring this up is because when I heard about the new three and a half hour long Martin Scorsese film coming out, I knew I had to write about it, and I was planning to use all my seething contempt for “Goodfellas,” to tear this movie apart. But you know what they say, if you are going to take a swing at the king, you better not miss. 

What I did the weekend before I saw “The Killers of the Flower Moon” was sit down and have a mini movie marathon consisting of “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” and “The Wolf of Wallstreet.” 

“Taxi Driver” is without a doubt one of the most boring films I have ever seen. I had known that before sitting down to watch the full thing because I had tried to start the film twice in the past and could never get past the 20-minute mark. The most entertaining part of the film was seeing how goofy Robert DeNiro looked with a mohawk. If you can get more out of that movie than me, more power to you, but I’m not sure I will ever understand it. 

If “Taxi Driver” was boring and pretentious, then “Raging Bull” was boring, pretentious, and obnoxious. Joe Pesci is a national treasure, and “My Cousin Vinnie” is an all-time favorite of mine, but when he has to be asked a question three times for him to even acknowledge what the other person is saying, that made me want to watch the rest of the movie on mute. This genuinely might be my new least favorite movie. It’s excruciating to watch. 

I don’t have much to say about “The Wolf of Wallstreet.” It was the only movie I saw with friends, and I thought it was fun for the most part. The main criticism is how they handled the main character. 

 They tried to make the protagonist someone who you are meant to see as gross and detestable, but he comes off way too charming and funny where a fair amount of people missed the message and see him as a sort of role model, and I really do think that is the fault of the movie. Overall, it was fine, but just the thought of rewatching it makes me nauseous. 

At this point I was ready to walk into the theater, sit down and either fall asleep halfway through or walkout. I was locked and loaded, ready to finally take my swing and publicly proclaim that it’s time for Martin Scorsese to put the camera down; however, the time came, and I couldn’t take my shot. That’s because this is one of the most powerful films I have ever seen. 

The first thing that I noticed that I found to be incredibly striking was the cinematography. Even at his most tedious, Scorsese knows how to perfectly capture the emotion in every scene. Being shot on site in the beautiful state of Oklahoma really helps to draw your attention and helps keep the film from becoming monotonous. 

It also helps give the film the air of authenticity that Scorsese has been chasing his entire career. Using real stories and real-life events, like the Tulsa Massacre, to help emphasize the stakes and reminds you that, while you are watching movie, these are still things that have happened in our country’s past, and they still affect a significant amount of people. 

I also love that American Indian’s stories are being told, and that they are being told to a huge mainstream audience. Admittedly, I am a bit out of my depth here commenting on it, but I think it’s extremely important that people are aware of and appreciate the history of American Indians through media that is accurate and humanizing towards native people. 

In pretty much every Scorsese film, the protagonist is the villain, or is at the very least not a good person. This is a trope that is extremely hard to do well and needs to be done almost perfectly. Even though he has been making films for over 50 years like this, it is the first time he got it right. 

Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull” is a character who the audience is supposed to love to hate, and while I don’t like him as a person, I also don’t think that his character is compelling enough for me to have any real strong feelings about his character, good or bad. The strongest feelings I have towards anyone while watching that movie is complete frustration towards Scorsese himself. 

 On the other hand, you have Jordan Belfort from “The Wolf of Wallstreet” a character who the audience is supposed to hate to love due to his utter depravity mixed with his unique charm and charisma. Even though they do show a lot of his terrible acts and try to make him seem like a bad person, the movie never focuses on those despicable acts long enough for the movie’s condemnation to feel like anything more than a slap on the wrist. 

Leonardo DiCaprio’s role as Earnest Burkhart is the most unique type of character. He is someone who you hate to hate. Throughout the entire film he is the most sniveling, conniving, deceptive rat on the planet, and for most of the movie I was excited to see his downfall. Yet somehow, I was also hoping that things would turn around for him and that he would turn out to be the hero of the story after all. They are two extremely contradictory emotions that fight each other, but that’s what makes his character so complex and captivating to watch.  

There is just so much I want to say about this movie. I haven’t even talked about Lily Gladstones outstanding stoic yet heartbreakingly emotional performance, or how there’s not a single scene I felt went on to long or was cut off prematurely. There is just so much to love here. 

This is one of the most impactful movie experiences I have had since I watched “2001: A Space Odessey” for the first time. Everything from the cinematography to the writing is honed to perfection. If there is anything negative, I could say is that it does run a touch longer than it needs to, but honestly, I would have rather had it run another 30 minutes and have an intermission in the middle. I genuinely cannot recommend this movie enough. I forgive you Marty. 9/10. 

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Jack McCarty, Entertainment Editor

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