Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Martin Scorsese

Thoughts On “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Martin Scorsese’s Newest Epic

Martin Scorsese is the winner of multiple awards over the course of his prolific career. With nine nominations for the Academy Award for Best Director, he is tied with Steven Spielberg as the most-nominated living director of all time, second only to William Wyler‘s 12 nominations overall.

Scorsese has won only once, in 2007, for “The Departed.” Spielberg, by contrast, won for “Schindler’s List” (1993) and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998).

Scorsese won the Best Directing Oscar award for his film The Departed in 2007.  That doesn’t seem like enough, when you consider that Scorsese directed nine films that went on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best PictureTaxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006), Hugo (2011), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and The Irishman (2019). Of the directors still working, even Spielberg tips his hat to Scorsese. (Scorsese actually taught directors Spike Lee and Oliver Stone in film school in New York City.)


Lily Gladstone & Leonardo DiCaprio

“Killers of the Flower Moon:” Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Given the fact that, despite 9 nominations, Martin Scorsese has only won once, we can assume that “Killers of the Flower Moon” will be Scorsese’s tenth nomination. Given his prominence and how often he has been an “also ran” in the Best Director category, this could well be Lucky Number Ten for Best Director.

The many times that Scorsese was nominated but did not win should weigh heavily when the Academy gets ready to vote this year. Scorsese, born in 1942, is now 81 years old . He is acknowledged as one of the seminal figures in American cinema. Some (most notably the “Wall Street Journal,” which savaged “Killers of the Flower Moon”) may not be as inclined to give the man his due, but I think the picture has a good shot at Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Costuming, Music and possibly Best Supporting Actor. If it snags all of those (and it could lose some acting awards to other contenders like “Oppenheimer”), can Best Picture be far behind ?

Will the Academy reward the legendary Scorsese for his directing of the sprawling tale “Killers of the Flower Moon?” I suspect they will, although there are nay-sayers who have dissed the Master and suggested he is out of touch. (This doesn’t surprise me, given what happened to me this year, my 20th year reviewing at CIFF, but that’s a story for another day.)


Robert DeNiro and Jesse Plemons in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is  a $200,000,000 undertaking that showcases Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone. There are many other notable cast members, including John Lithgow, Brendan Fraser and Jesse Plemmons, plus quite a few names in music, who have small roles. Fraser does a not-that-great job, shouting his dialogue unnecessarily, and Lithgow’s part is very small, but the contributions of the actresses who portray Mollie’s sisters and mother more than make up for the underwhelming nature of the Fraser/Lithgow turns. Cara Jade Myers, who plays Mollie’s wild sister Anna Kyle Brown is particularly good (Best Supporting Actress?) and the actress playing Mollie’s mother Lizzie Q (Tantoo Cardinal) and JaNae Collins, who played Rita, are uniformly excellent.

Among the musicians in the film were Pete Yorn, who plays Acie Kirby, the munitions expert. Yorn wrote the score for the 2000 film “Me, Myself & Irene” but had never acted previously. Country singer Sturgill Simpson makes an appearance as Henry Grammer. Jason Isbell, four-time Grammy award winner and former member of the Drive-by Truckers and the 400 Unit plays Bill Smith, the snake-like husband of two of the murdered Osage women. Jack White, winner of 12 Grammies, has appeared in several other films. Charlie Musselwhite portrays Alvin Reynolds, one of the key informants who spills the beans on the conspiracy that DeNiro’s character William King Hale has set in motion.

Critics have lauded Lily Gladstone, but Robert DeNiro is great as the uber-snake William King Hale. I admired DeNiro’s performance more than that of DiCaprio, but it was great fun seeing these two onscreen in a father/son fashion, which hadn’t occurred since 1993’s “This Boy’s Life,” when DiCaprio was only 18 years old. (Released when DiCaprio was 19.)


Killers of the Flower Moon

Lily Gladstone and her sisters in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is based on the book of the same name by David Grann.  An impressive amount of research has gone into this labor of love. You can’t help but feel that, like Marlon Brando before him, this is Scorsese’s personal protest against the historic mistreatment of Native Americans. One character with a substantial speaking part, Paul Red Eagle, is played by the current Osage National Minerals Council Chairman, Everett Waller.

Set in 1920s Oklahoma, “Killers of the Flower Moon” focuses on a series of murders of Osage members and relations in the Osage Nation after oil was found on tribal land. Tribal members had retained mineral rights on their reservation. Whites sought to steal the Osage wealth by systematically murdering them.

In “Killers of the Flower Moon,” writer and journalist David Grann offered an intimately detailed account of a little-known but devastating chapter in American history: the Osage Reign of Terror. This period lasted five years from 1921 to 1926 during which upwards of twenty Osage Indians were murdered in cold blood for access to their valuable shares of oil money. There are also references to the Tulsa, Oklahoma murders on Black Wall Street (Juneteenth) and the KKK is depicted onscreen in  fleeting parade scenes.  Principal photography  took place in Osage and Washington counties, Oklahoma, between April and October 2021. Pawhuska, Oklahoma, stood in for  Fairfax in the film.

Leonardo DiCaprio & Lily Gladstone

Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

The scope of “Killers of the Flower Moon” is epic. It covers a lot of history and does so with admirable pacing despite the film’s length. Although it is 206 minutes long, eclipsing even “Oppenheimer,” it did not drag (which “Oppenheimer” sometimes did). The entire project began in 2016, so it was 7 years in the making.

The acting by the three leads (DeNiro, DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone) is outstanding, although there were times when looking at the expression that DiCaprio sports throughout the film reminds the onlooker of looking at a pug bulldog. It’s not a good look. It is meant to show Ernest Burkhart’s venality, weakness and stupidity. Mission accomplished, but leading man reputation as good-looking for Leonardo destroyed. One wonders why Mollie would find him attractive.

It is casting against type for Leonardo DiCaprio, who has usually been quick-witted and attractive in his leading man roles. In this one he is spineless, thick, obsessed with gaining wealth without hard work, and conflicted by his genuine affection for his Osage bride. His wife-to-be refers to him as a coyote. But the very real fact that—doing his evil Uncle’s bidding—he is going to be responsible for the of murder most of Mollie’s family members and even bring Lily, herself, to the brink of death is certainly a good reason to be conflicted. There is ample evidence that Ernest will go whatever way the power wants, including his on-again/off-again decision about whether or not to testify against his powerful uncle.


In addition to the scenes of tribal rituals, whether weddings or pow wows, I was struck by Rodrigo Prieto’s visual imagery in depicting the figures burning down a neighboring farm as almost Dante-esque. They are shown in the distance, fanning the flames of the farm that Bill Hill  had engineered a $30,000 fire insurance policy on just a month prior. The shot looks like figures dancing in Hell. Since Mollie (Lily Gladstone) is confined to her bed by that point in the film, seriously ill from her husband’s poisoning her insulin shots, we see the pulled window shades glowing red inside from the fire outside.  There are many such impressive visual images. The Osage braves frolicking in the crude oil gushing forth, geyser-like, from the earth. The field of flowers. An explosion is also impressively rendered.

The costuming is also noteworthy and authentic.


Robbie Robertson did eleven films with Scorsese. He was also a close personal friend of the director. Robertson died of prostate cancer at age 80 on August 9, 2023. He married his second wife,  Top Chef Canada judge Janet Zuccarini five months before his death. Robertson’s scores for Scorsese films include “Raging Bull” (1980), “The King of Comedy” (1982), “The Color of Money” (1986), “Casino” (1985), “Gangs of New York” (2002), “Shutter Island” (2010), “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013), “Silence” (2016), “The Irishman” (2019) and “Killers of the Flower Moon” (2023), as well as being a performer and producer on 1978’s “Last Waltz,” the documentary about The Band.

The movie is dedicated to Robertson, who died just months before its release.


Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”


In researching the genesis of the movie, I found it interesting that, originally, Leonardo DiCaprio was supposed to play the role of FBI agent Tom White that Jesse Plemmons portrayed. Scorsese and co-writer Eric Roth reworked the story because of the interesting conflict that emerged when Leonardo’s character, who loves his wife, is still complicit in murdering almost all of her family and nearly killing her, something she didn’t truly accept until the scene near the end, when she directly asks him what he put in her insulin and he does not answer truthfully (despite just having said that he has confessed all and that it has been a weight off his shoulders). Lily goes forward, then, and, in fact, marries another, dying at age 50, but she is done with Ernest, who is pardoned late in life. Ernest and Byron (his brother, who was complicit in the murder of his wife, Mollie’s sister Anna) lived together in a trailer park at the ends of their lives. Byron was never convicted of anything, which seems unlikely and unfair.

Mollie divorced Ernest after she realized (or finally accepted) the depth of his betrayals. She did not seem to have done so early in his trial, but in the climactic scene between Ernest and Mollie, we see that she is now ready to accept the horrible truth.

At the unusual creative end, when Scorsese uses the old-style radio show based on the FBI to give us the information on what has happened to the principal characters, Scorsese himself reads us Mollie’s obituary, which another writer described as having really impacted Scorsese in a major way. He couldn’t believe that, after everything Mollie had suffered,  her obituary from June 16, 1937, at the age of 50, mentioned nothing of these tumultuous life events.

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

Rated R for violence, some grisly images, and language.

206 minutes


Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart

Robert De Niro as William King Hale

Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart

Jesse Plemons as Tom White

Tantoo Cardinal as Lizzie Q

Cara Jade Myers as Anna Kyle Brown

JaNae Collins as Rita

Jillian Dion as Minnie

William Belleau as Henry Roan

Louis Cancelmi as Kelsie Morrison

Tatanka Means as John Wren

Michael Abbott Jr. as Agent Frank Smith

Pat Healy as Agent John Burger

Scott Shepherd as Bryan Burkhart

Jason Isbell as Bill Smith

Sturgill Simpson as Henry Grammer

John Lithgow as Prosecutor Peter Leaward

Brendan Fraser as W.S. Hamilton


Writer (book)






“Shine A Light” Shines A Light on the Rolling Stones

Shine A Light One of my favorite parts of Martin Scorsese’s documentary film focusing on the Rolling Stones occurs before the music even starts. Mick Jagger calls up Scorsese to express his concern over the large tracking cameras that will be used (nearly 24 cameras were employed in the filming) and whether they will intrude on the audience’s appreciation of their benefit concert for Bill Clinton’s foundation at the Beacon Theater in New York.

Filmed in 2006, the small ornate venue offered a great deal more intimacy than the Stones’ stadium shows, which generally seat thousands. (The only small show I attended, the “No Security” tour, took place at the United Center in Chicago; my friend was hit in the head by a drumstick that Charlie Watts pitched into the crowd and still managed not to catch it! Charlie’s drumsticks, I can report, have his name burned into the side, so they would have made a great souvenir, but it was not to be, despite my friend’s goose-egg on her forehead. I remember saying, “Didn’t you ever play softball?”)

As a long-time Stones fan, I have seen them “live” on every tour since 1982. “Steel Wheels” was the best, when I saw them in Ames, Iowa. An absolutely awesome experience. That tour was followed by the “Voodoo Lounge” tour (Chicago), the “Bridges to Babylon” tour (2x, Ames and Minneapolis), a smaller more intimate show in Chicago at the United Center dubbed the “No Security” tour, and their most recent outing two times in Chicago, “A Bigger Bang.” [I will say that I have never been colder in my life than at the fall Soldier Field concert this last time. Elvis Costello opened for the Stones this last time ( opening acts I have seen include Lenny Kravitz, Blues Traveler, and the Goo Goo Dolls, among others.]

Scorsese is noticeably frazzled on film by the Stones’ failure to know exactly what the order of their set is going to be until the last minute. We see shots of Mick on an airplane, going over the set list and then shots of Scorsese being given a “late-breaking” bulletin of the order of the songs. He wants to know so he can have the right camera in the right place at the right time, but, like the rest of us, he is clueless until the concert actually begins.

Scorsese really gets in close on the band, wrinkles and all, with Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson (“The Aviator,” “J.F.K.”) overseeing a nineteen-person team boasting three multiple Oscar winners in addition to Albert Maysles. Albert Maysles and his brother, David, made the Stones’ tour documentary “Gimme Shelter” in 1969, which became famous for the Hell’s Angels incident (the Hell’s Angels were hired to provide “security”) that caused the death of an audience member.

The Stones perform 19 songs, delivering some seldom-performed gems like “She Was Hot,” “All Down the Line,” and a country-flavored “Loving Cup,” which was a duet with Jack White of the White Stripes. Jagger also brought out Christina Aguilera to duet with him on “Live With Me,” which involved a bumping and grinding dance, with Christina clad in what appeared to be black tights and a man’s shirt, wearing a black formal tux tie loosely draped around her neck, untied. Another guest performing onstage was Buddy Guy, blues icon from Chicago, who sang “Champagne & Reefer” with Mick.

My favorite parts of the IMAX film involved the old archival footage of the Stones being interviewed as young men just starting out in the business. Charlie Watts, now the white-haired grizzled drummer, talks in his salad days about how he would have liked to have been a painter, but didn’t have the vision, so he could only aspire to be a “designer” (if he hadn’t become a member of the band). I would have enjoyed three times the quantity of “clips” of the early Stones that Scorsese included, but he’s the Oscar-winning director, and I’m just an audience member who is fascinated by strolling down memory lane.( I couldn’t help but compare the scarcity of clips with a brilliant documentary on Freddie Mercury I saw at the Chicago Film Festival this past fall that had ten times the amount of personal clips.) I also enjoyed the classics included like “Brown Sugar,” “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” (the Stones’ first Number One hit in this country back in 1965) and “Start Me Up.”

Also interesting was the appearance of the Clintons (yes, those Clintons), Bill, Hillary and Hillary’s mother, who came onstage before the show to introduce the Stones. Bill announced that, for his sixtieth birthday, he wanted to “open for the Stones” and, by introducing them, he got his wish. The Clintons had at least 30 family members and friends present in the lower balcony of the small theater. Since the “f” bomb was unleashed at least three or four times during the concert, and Mick’s dancing has always been suggestive, I couldn’t help but think that, —if the tables were turned, and Obama played as dirty as Hillary in her campaigning—-Obama would be mentioning the Clintons participation in the concert with a holier-than-thou attitude, tsk-tsking all the way to the polls. (It’s certainly what Hillary has done with the Reverend Wright and his Wrong-headed ranting.)

A friend of mine, with whom I play Trivia in Pub Quiz (a British chat room online) told a story of meeting Charlie Watts and his Mrs., along with Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood (and families) at a posh restaurant in London one night. He described Charlie Watts as being as nice as could be, and described Ronnie and Keith as “borrowing” the waiters’ jackets and passing a cheese tray, to the amusement of their party.

I still remember walking through what was then the Union’s “River Room” at the University of Iowa in 1963 and hearing “Hey, You! Get Offa’ My Cloud” blasting from an old style juke box with colored lights. The Stones signed with Decca Records that year, later touring the United Kingdom with the Everly Brothers and Bo Diddley. In 1964, the Stones released their first album, “England’s Newest Hit Makers.” They also toured the United States for the first time that year and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

In 1971, Rolling Stones Records released the “Sticky Fingers” LP, with a cover design by Andy Warhol that is now iconic. The Stones received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986 and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. The “Bigger Bang” tour of 2005 grossed half a billion dollars, with paid attendance of 4.68 billion, according to George Varga’s “Mature Focus'” May issue (p.56), and I attended two of those “live” concerts.

During their long career, the Stones have undertaken some fantastic tours and released notable albums. In the sixties it was:” The Rolling Stones, Now!” followed by “Their Satanic Majesties Request,” Beggars Banquet,” “Let It Bleed.” In the seventies, with “Sticky Fingers” “Exile on Main Street” and “It’s Only Rock & Roll”, the Stones were still hot. The eighties brought us “Some Girls” (the Stones sang at least 3 of the songs from the album during the IMAX event), “Emotional Rescue,” “Tattoo You,” and “Still Life.”

The latest release from the Kings of Rock & Roll and the greatest arena band ever is the soundtrack to the film “Shine A Light,” (now showing at an IMAX Theater near you.) I admire the fact that Keith, Mick, Charlie and Ronnie ( assisted by the nine members in their touring ensemble group, such as Lisa Fisher of Brooklyn) have let it all hang out in the aging department. After seeing the horror-show that now is Kenny Rogers’ face, I appreciate the fact that the Stones still enjoy what they are doing, do it well, don’t seem to have lost a step, and are letting themselves mature naturally. When you see Mick Jagger doing his chicken-on-acid dancing, non-stop, while wearing a long blue-black coat that seems to have been made of ostrich feathers, never stopping to rest, it is difficult to believe that the man was 62 when this was filmed.

As for Martin Scorsese’s filming them onstage at the Beacon Theatre in 2006, who better than the man who was assistant director of the Oscar-winning documentary “Woodstock” forty years ago, and also directed “The Last Waltz,” the story of The Band’s 1976 all-star farewell performance?

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