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Martin Scorsese's 'Killers of the Flower Moon' might be the best film you see this year

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Move over "Oppenheimer" and "Barbie." The latest film from writer, director and producer Martin Scorsese — "Killers of the Flower Moon" — might be the best movie of 2023 and could run away with multiple Oscars when awards season approaches.

Co-host Bruce Miller, who got an early screening of the film that opens October 20 after its brief run at Cannes earlier this year, shares his impressions of the film and where it stacks up with other Scorsese classics that featured Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. The two actors have long been favorites of the director, but had never appeared in one of his films together until now.

Co-host Terry Lipshetz, who has not yet seen the film, shares his thoughts on past Scorsese films such as "Goodfellas," "The Departed" and others, and introduces clips featuring Scorsese, De Niro, DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons and Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear of the Osage Nation.

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About the show

Streamed & Screened is a podcast about movies and TV hosted by Bruce Miller, a longtime entertainment reporter who is now the editor of the Sioux City Journal in Iowa and Terry Lipshetz, a senior producer for Lee Enterprises based in Madison, Wisconsin.

Episode transcript

Note: The following transcript was created by Headliner and may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies as it was generated automatically:

 Martin Scorsese talks about his new film Killers of the Flower Moon

Martin Scorsese: Well, I think the story itself has elements of stuff that you would expect to see in my movies. This approach, however, is from another angle, and I think it's from a more personal, side, which is the story of, the husband and wife, Ernest and Molly, and more so through Molly, I think, and how it affects her. We don't shy away from showing anything, but it has different resonance because of, her, really.

Terry Lipshetz: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of streamed and screened and entertainment podcast about movies and TV from Lee Enterprises. That clip you just heard was from Martin Scorsese, writer, director, and producer of Killers of the Flower Moon during the Mexico City premiere of the film. Courtesy EPKTV.

Bruce Miller: This is a special film that you will want to see

Terry Lipshetz: I'm Terry Lipschetz, a senior producer at Lee and co host of the program with Bruce Miller, editor of the Sioux City Journal and a longtime entertainment reporter. He is also lucky enough and is the only person I know to have seen Martin Scorsese's new film, Killers of the Flower Moon. Bruce, I'm yours here. I don't even know what else to say because you're special. You've seen it, I haven't.

Bruce Miller: What can you say about a film like this? Just another thing that he put out. Just another film. It's just no, it is something. This is a special film that you will want to see. But I'm going to warn you before we even get into the rest of it, and that's that it's long. People complain, and, who complains more about a long film than I do? It really will be one that if you could break it up and watch it in parts, you'd probably enjoy it more. But I did need to have a bathroom break in the middle of it, so I'm admitting to that freely. I know that I shouldn't have had a beverage before I went in, but, yeah, it is everything you've heard about, everything you've thought about, everything you've wanted and more. If this isn't Martin Scorsese's big valedictory, I don't know what is, because there's a lot to unpack with the film, and he brings in people that truthfully. I did not know some of these actors were in the film. And so the last quarter of the film, they start popping up and you go, oh, my God. They all wanted to be in one of his films before he quits making films. And you see big names and they just are playing little throwaway roles, which I found was very fascinating to see. And it isn't like you think, okay, the movie, I kind of know where it's ending. It's ending, right? No, it gets another kind of breath and then it goes through another process. And you go, yeah, wow, that was something. And then the ending of the whole thing is a big surprise.

Terry Lipshetz: So you're not going to give that away?

Bruce Miller: No, I'm not going to give that away.

Terry Lipshetz: Don't spoil it.

Bruce Miller: You got to see that one. But yeah, I was pleasantly surprised. And I'm glad I didn't time the bathroom break at the end because I then would have missed this part. But it was like, okay, I like that. That's a nice way of putting a button on.

Terry Lipshetz: Know you're talking about the length. I do see that it is three minutes shorter than his last film, The Irishman. So it is quicker. A little faster, right. But that was a long one, too.

Bruce Miller: The Irishman, you could pause because it was on Netflix, right.

Terry Lipshetz: This is an Apple TV production. But it's not on Apple TV.

Bruce Miller: No, it's going to be theaters first, and then it will go to Apple TV. But don't expect, like, it's opening this week, and then next week you're going to see it on Apple. It's not they will have this kind of victory lap that will last, I'm sure, at least through the end of October, if not into November. And it warrants it. When you see this, it's one of the best things Leonardo DiCaprio has done. And he's done a lot of Scorsese films. It's, a different take on Robert De Niro. In fact, when I first saw him, I didn't realize it was Robert De Niro and heard his voice. He was channeling somebody other than what we've seen in the past. And what's fascinating I found about the film is that it touches on a lot of very familiar movies. There's a little Godfather in this. There's a little giant in this. Think about epic films that you've seen, and there's a little bit of that in there. But it also is its own story. So I think he's paying homage to a lot of his predecessors, but he's also creating a path for himself. There was even a little Wes Anderson in there that I, was surprised at.

Terry Lipshetz: That's interesting.

Bruce Miller: I don't know if that gives you anything more to go on, but there are moments with De Niro and DiCaprio that you go, this could be The Godfather. This could really be from The Godfather. It has that kind of momentum going that I really loved.

Lily Gladstone plays love interest of Leonardo DiCaprio's character

Bruce Miller: And then we haven't even mentioned Lily Gladstone. Lily Gladstone plays a member of the Osage Nation who is a love interest of Leonardo DiCaprio's character. And you can see where the two guys are going to be kind of heightened actory kind of characters. And she pulls back and is very natural, and they match her. And it's fascinating how this works out. And a lot of the Native American actors who I don't know if they've had long careers, are fascinating to watch. He has done something here that I think you don't see in run of the mill movies. It is a real surprise, one right after another.

Terry Lipshetz: It's interesting that you bring up how this feels like one of his earlier films, scorsese's earlier films, some of the ones tied to kind of organized, crime and mafia. I have a clip from the movie and it's a scene where De Niro and DiCaprio are together and they're kind of having an argument. It comes after it sounds like a hit and there's a shooting. But when I watched this clip now, again, I haven't seen the movie. So I've only been able to see trailers and short clips. But this one felt like it had that feeling of, like, goodfellas when they're kind of yelling at each other or even like The Departed. It kind of had that kind of feeling to it. But it brings the two actors together.

Robert de Niro plays Leonardo DiCaprio's uncle in the film

Bruce Miller: Can I give you a little setup for the scene?

Terry Lipshetz: Sure.

Bruce Miller: Robert de Niro plays Leonardo DiCaprio's. Uncle Leo has been in the war, but he comes back. He doesn't really know what to do with himself. He doesn't have a career. The uncle says, Come to this area because there's a lot of opportunity. The Osage nation hit oil. They struck oil. And as a result, people were really, really rich. The Native Americans had the latest in cars. They had butlers and chauffeurs and maids and huge homes. They were living the life that everybody, I think, would love to live. And there were a group of people who were benefiting from them being around. De Niro's character is considered a, respected white man in their territory. And he has relationships with most of the people. So they trust him and they believe in what he says to them. And he brings in this nephew. And the nephew is kind of a deadbeat, if you ask me. I saw him as a deadbeat. And he's just looking for a way to get his piece of this pie. And so then De Niro has spelled out a number of things he needs to do and it's about how do you behave and what do you do in this area. And we've got to watch so that if we do something that maybe isn't above board that you're not getting caught. So here's the scene.


It's supposed to be a suicide, you dumbbell. You didn't tell him to leave the gun.

I don't know why I told him.

To leave the gun.

I told him to leave the gun just like you told. I don't know why he didn't.

I don't know why I told him.

Just like you told him.

You told him to do it in.

The front of the head. And why did he do it in the back of the head? It's so simple. The front is the front. The back is the back, mate. He has to make it look like he done himself. It just looks like murder. It's not supposed to be that way, you hear? I told him the front of the head. I said the front of the head. Just like this. Just like you told me. I promise you. I promise you.

I swear on my children.

I swear on my children.

Kane and don't swear on your children makes you look foolish.

I ain't foolish, because I'm the guy.

Terry Lipshetz: And that was a pretty powerful clip right there.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Ernest Burkhart in the film

Terry Lipshetz: And I do have one other clip because we're talking about some of the characters, and maybe you can help set this up as well. But in this scene, Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Ernest Burkhart, he is driving Lily Gladstone, who plays Molly Burkhart, who's eventually becomes his wife. His wife, right. But this is an early scene where he is driving her. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Bruce Miller: He needs a job, and so he becomes a driver. He was like an Uber driver, for lack of a better term. And she is one of his steady customers, and he realizes there could be a relationship there because she's beautiful. She doesn't suffer fools. what I love about her is she stands her own with all the people, and yet it isn't like she needs a big showy scene to do it. She can do it with a look, and that's what's so cool about her performance. But I think this is early on in their relationship, and they are kind of feeling each other out in terms of, could this possibly be a match for me? They told me you was going with Matt M. Williams for a time.


Lily Gladstone: You talk too much.

Leonardo DiCaprio: I don't talk too much thinking, well, I got to beat in this horse race. That's all.

Lily Gladstone: I didn't realize it was a race. I don't care for watching horses.

Leonardo DiCaprio: Well, I'm a different kind of horse.

Lily Gladstone: Hong Kashi. Show me kasikoshi.

Leonardo DiCaprio: What was that?

Lily Gladstone: Show me kasi. That's how you are.

Leonardo DiCaprio: I don't know what you said, but it must have been Indian for Handsome Devil.

Terry Lipshetz: That sounds like a pretty good clip right there, too. And it's getting me excited. It seems like they had really good chemistry on screen. Chemistry. Did you get that feeling?

Bruce Miller: Yeah. And, the thing I loved is that it did not seem like it was the same old, same old, because when you've done a lot of movies with the same director, it can be like, okay, we're using you because you can bring us this. And I thought they were both trying new kinds of characters. In fact, Leo's character reminded me more of one of the characters he played in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, more than anything. And he always talks about being thick. That's a line that kind of, resonates throughout the film. But he says, I'm not thick. I'm not thick. And he doesn't want people to think he's dumb, that he knows what he's doing, and he's smart. But really, when you get down to it, he probably is thick. That some of these moves he makes makes him seem like, yeah, maybe we need to guide you along a little bit more.

This is the first time Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro have worked together in a Martin Scorsese film

Terry Lipshetz: We talked a little bit at the top of this show, know Scorsese reuniting with DiCaprio with de Niro. So this is actually, the 6th film that DiCaprio has done with Scorsese. This is the 10th that De Niro has done with Scorsese. Now the interesting thing is Robert, De Niro and Martin Scorsese did a lot of films together earlier, like 70s into the 80s. But then that relationship kind of cooled off a little bit and they went their separate ways. And DiCaprio kind of filled in to what you would consider to be that.

Bruce Miller: He became the new Bobby.

Terry Lipshetz: He became the new bobby. But this is the first time that the two are working together in the same film. So how is that chemistry between the two of them?

Bruce Miller: You know what, i, think that, Robert De Niro has honed in a lot of his performances in recent years. And you can look at some of those bad comedies that he's done. You know that he's phoning in some of those, right? But this one challenges him in such ways that he uses different voices. It isn't the same kind of De Niro voice that you've been looking I when, I wrote a review about it and I thought that he reminded me of James Whitmore. Now this is going back. James Whitmore in the film. Give him hell, Harry. It sounded like that was what he was trying to do. And he was trying to be this kind of likable character, not necessarily somebody who has the upper hand and is going to cut you if you don't do what you say. And I think that's kind of his, you know what I mean, where, he has that. I've loved him in so many films. I, really regret that Raging Bull did not get Best Picture. I think that was one of the big mistakes of all time. Because I don't think The Departed was the best film that Scorsese has made. But we've got this one. And this one could well be the one that brings it all home for him.

Terry Lipshetz: I always thought that I love the Departed. It is one of my favorite movies, one of my favorite Martin Scorsese movies. However, to me, it doesn't stand up like a Raging Bull or a Ah Goodfellas or probably half a dozen other films. It always felt like The Departed was kind of like, a makeup.

Bruce Miller: You look back at some of those early ones and I think he was part of that group, if you will, that were very big in the they were all kind of jockeying for position. So I think some of those ones that he did early on were masterful something like Taxi Driver, for example. Have you ever seen De Niro better than that? And De Niro has been really good. And Raging Bull, I think, is his best picture ever. But you look at Taxi Driver and you can remember those. Are you looking at me? You're going to come up with the lines right away because it was such an indelible character. And you look at the styles of Martin Scorsese's movies and they are different. Some of those early ones are very kind of know, I do them on $5 kind of movies. And then there are ones that are very elaborate and you think, wow, they spent some bucks on them. This is one of those. They spent some bucks on them. Because the costumes, the sets, all the little details are top drawer. They're just the best. And then you get that like that string of actors. In the end, I kid you not, you are going to, don't look at any list of the actors who are in the film because you'll be looking for them. But there's even Jason Isbell is in there. And you go, wait a minute, he's in this? Come on. And so it's a nice surprise to see that last quarter of the film where they start kind of coming in as various and sundry, lawyers, politicians, representatives, whatever.

Terry Lipshetz: I did cheat.

Bruce Miller: You did.

Terry Lipshetz: I did cheat. Well, I need to know what I'm talking about coming in here. So I did see and it's an interesting look at quite, a few musicians. You mentioned jason isbell. But Jack White is in it. Pete Yorn is in it. Sturgill Simpson. There's a lot of very recent contemporary musicians, a lot of Americana country musicians, but a lot of musicians in this. But there's also a lot of other just very well known actors like Brendan Fraser, John Lithgow, Jesse Clemens. I mean, it's a heavy hitting, right?

Bruce Miller: Right. Yeah. It's and Jesse Plemons, you don't see him until, jeez, it's almost over. And then he comes in. And I thought immediately he reminded me of Ben Johnson in Last Picture Show. Now, is that not a reference? I mean, there are little things like that. If you are a fan of film, you can find touchstones here in this movie that relate. I could do like a diagram and then I could put arrows to all these different films. Look at this scene. And this reminds me of this. This reminds me of that. And yet it's uniquely his film. It is not a copy of like, oh, this worked. So I'm going to use that. Not that at all. But like I said, it is fascinating how if you love these kinds of movies, you will really love this one. And I learned stuff like I say, I did not know all this backstory on the Osage Nation and how people were treated. It's unbelievable. And why it took this long to get this story on a screen, or maybe it has and I just missed it is beyond me.

This is a film about the Osage Nation and a specific time in history

Terry Lipshetz: You mentioned, of course, this is a film about the Osage Nation and time in history. We actually have a clip with Chief, Standing Bear from the Osage Nation, who helped as a consultant on the film. So, let's cut away to that for a moment.

Speaker G: Well, I'm principal chief of the Osage Nation, and when David Grand, was writing the book, he was spending a lot of time with us, years. And, after he sold the movie rights, he called and told us that Imperative would take, it from here. And we met with an Imperative, and we were very concerned that someone else is going to tell our story without being our story. But imperative was very careful. They didn't want to over promise. So when they started saying, this is a movie that the Osage will be proud of, and they're going to tell the story through the eyes of Molly, that really got us, in a positive mood. And then Chad Renfro, who I had appointed as our ambassador to this world and the movie, said, Chief Marty Scorsese, he'll be here in the morning. And so he came. First thing he said is, we're going to film here. And then my staff and I, encouraged him and Marianne Bauer and everyone to work with our people on this whole, process. And, it's just been something we worked with for years, every day. And for six months, the filming, was right there in Pahuska, dirt streets, everything. What you see is not computer generated. I've been down watching them film. It's an amazing process. I've never seen anything like it. We've had other movies made in Fahaska, but nothing like this.

Bruce Miller: There's a lot of, native languages in this, so you really do feel like you're a part of it. It's like in The Godfather, for example, when they go to Italy and they're speaking Italian and you don't know what in the world's going on, but you know that something's happening. That's a way that the Native American characters are able to keep some of these opportunists at an arm's length, is that they can talk to one another and say, know, I am not so sure about this. Know, so it is a gangster film in a way, but it's not what we traditionally think of as a gangster film.

Martin Scorsese has done a lot of films based on true stories recently

Terry Lipshetz: Corsace has done a lot of films recently. I mean, he's done this all throughout his career, where he does stories that are either inspired by true stories or they're true stories. Such as the case with the Irishman, the Wolf of Wall Street, the Aviator. Where does this one stand compared to some of those others that are based on true stories in your mind?

Bruce Miller: Well, I'm sure they do take liberties because it's based on a novel that was a huge, huge hit.

Terry Lipshetz: Right.

Bruce Miller: I think it's a great adaptation, if I can say that. But I still think Raging Bull was a more defining kind of biography, if you will. But hey, get ready. Get ready. This is a film you want to see, and this is a year of oppenheimer. Remember, we all hot about Oppenheimer. Well, this is the competition, folks. I think you really have I am going to put them both in at one time and watch them and then just see which one is better.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” could win multiple Academy Awards

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah, that was my next question for you. When we spoke a few weeks ago, it felt like Oppenheimer at that moment, was the best picture. But now that you've seen this yeah.

Bruce Miller: it could win could because up and down the line, there are such excellent examples of what movie making is all know he got in trouble for talking about how those Marvel movies sorry, were not really movies. They were just kind of whatever. And he puts up he shows you what a real movie is. I think we've been so duped in the years of Marvel films that it becomes a formula. To make a movie, you must do this, this, and this. And you need this character and that character. And you get out of it this way. And that's how it goes. And this is creating stuff. This is a new vocabulary, a new way of looking at films. And like I say, that last little bit, you're going to go, I did not realize that that would be a way to end this film. I hope that more than anything, I've gotten you to think about wanting to see it.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. And I was looking it up because it obviously opens this weekend. But the next thing I looked at is like, well, when is it going to go to Apple TV? is it worth waiting? And it looks like at the earliest, early 2024. So I need to get to the theater.

Bruce Miller: Yeah. No, and it needs to be seen on a big screen. It is lavish. I mean, you see those outdoor scenes, and he's not working with a couple, of drones to shoot these scenes. You know, there's a crane involved. And there's a lot they're cattle. My God, the cattle are running all over. And you think, how did they wrangle this? And all those old cars. they said that the Pierce Arrow was one of the most successful cars among the Osage nation, that they all wanted to have a Pierce Arrow. And they got all these cars. And you think, how did they do this? How did they make this so exacting? And then you know that he had people who were guiding him through all of the Native American things. There are ways that they are holding the shawls or using the kind of colors. And I know it all means something. They have done due diligence to every aspect of this. And I think that those who are subliminally part of the story would appreciate what he has done. Because it isn't just I'm, making a movie that's based on a book that's about something that happened. He wants to get it right. And the Native American music that you hear throughout it, too, is a real spectacle to behold. And yeah, there are just parts of it that, you know, that they have done right by the people that they are chronicling.

Leonardo DiCaprio: The film took the number of years to make. But we finally got it done

Terry Lipshetz: All right, I'm going to cut away quickly now to one, more clip from Martin Scorsese. Let's go to that one really quick.

Martin Scorsese: Well, I'm disappointed that we don't have the actors. it's a good time for them to be here and to enjoy, even if it's just a moment of, getting a picture taken together. And everything they went through. The film took the number of years to make. the pandemic took its toll. There's no doubt, took its toll in time and interruptions. But we finally got it done. and, it's been a very special film for me, especially over the years, trying to get it to, be in a shape that was a story I wanted to tell, along with Leo and Lily Gladstone and De Niro and Jesse Plemons and all the Osage with us on this picture. But, it's a special film for me, and I hope I learned something from it.

Terry Lipshetz: Even though Martin Scorsese there was talking about how the actors can't promote the film when he was at the London premiere recently. The good news is this is we do have audio from the actors from before the strike began. So we're going to go ahead now and queue up a few clips. Now, in this first one, we have Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Leonado DiCaprio: We optioned the book seven, eight years ago. And it was a, fascinating piece of forgotten history, but it was told from the perspective of the FBI. And we developed a screenplay soon after that. but there was a dynamic missing there that, we ultimately felt that we weren't getting to the heart of the story. We weren't immersed in the Osage community the way we wanted to be. And there was two short sequences of Ernest and Molly together, which was this insanely, bizarre love story, something that was hard to fathom in a lot of ways, how this woman stuck by someone who was so duplicitous. But it was true. All of it was true. And so from that point on, we said to ourselves, well, what if we take the chance on in getting to the heart of this story and the Osage community and this insane dynamic in Oklahoma at that time and what was going on? What if we made it know Molly and Ernest? And that was another four year journey of rewriting and once again going to Oklahoma to meet with the a new, another chapter of development of getting even further into the truth of that story and trying to be as honest as we possibly could about the atrocities that occurred. But it was really when we made that shift to it being about Ernest and Molly and their love for one another, it opened up a whole new arena of ideas for us and it took on a whole new life of itself.

Lily Gladstone: One of the biggest responsibilities I felt about this role was that I'm not Osage

Lily Gladstone: One of the biggest responsibilities I felt about this role and, the way that I had to occupy the space of Molly was that I'm not Osage from the community. I have access points being blackfeet and as purse and growing up in the Blackfeet Reservation. we don't have something like the Reign of Terror, but we have our own history with, not being able to manage our own finances, for a time, with a lot of the things that I think a lot of contemporary Native Americans feel and understand. But walking in like, Indian Country is an incredibly diverse place and Osage Country was, foreign to me walking into it. And, Oklahoma has a different history than Montana does, where I grew up. So I knew that because I had to be in this position where I'm, in a way, an access point for the audience to fall in love with Native women and to care about Native women in a really deep way. The way that that happens is I had to fall in love with everybody I was around. I had to fall in love with my sisters and that was effortless. and also with a level within the community. it's not my community, but I had to carry it as if it were, as if they were stories from my family. I think that's kind of the root of empathy and it's one of the reasons that I love being an actor, is you're serving as an access point for, other experiences and you're kind of broadening a cultural understanding of what it means to be human by doing so. yeah, I feel like there's no way I could really, really ever understand or truly embody what it would have meant to be an Osage woman at that time because it's unimaginable the things that this community had to deal with. And it's horrendous how erased it was. And early research with Leah. We were sitting down, going through some of the court documents and the testimonies from this and people were talking about the house blowing up and the documents from this and the court transcripts. They only talked about Bill Smith. The character played by Jason Isbell. There was no mention of Rita. We were sitting there looking at these just court transcripts on this very fragile old paper that we were being very tender with. And then it's like you don't necessarily feel like you're going to be moved by a court document, but I had to stop. I mean, we had this nice system where I was handing you pages and we were turning them over and being careful as we were both reading and everything. And then you were kind of waiting for me to hand you the page and wasn't getting it because I was. Crying over the lack of Rita in this paper. So that kind of took me by surprise that I was moved the way that I was in that moment. But it made it so incredibly clear that me being in this role is a responsibility for this array, is a responsibility for m this community that has been so erased out of their own history, starting with these court documents before any writer gets a hand on it. So, it's vital that this history be explored that way. And I'm so grateful that Marty also, in addition to this being so it's Killers of the Flower Moon, the book is there. It was also the heartbeat of it was so shaped by a book written about this time from an Osage perspective called A Pipe for February by Charles Redcorn. And, ah, I encourage people to read that because copy paste there's elements of that book that are very clearly in the movie in a very certain way. But the tone of that book and the sense of the relationships between the sisters in the community, the photographs that you see, the way that the book invites you into what that perspective is, the way that the community invites you into what their perspective is. Because, if you're there and you're receptive and you're open, they'll share it. they don't push too hard because we're talking about trauma, but people are willing to share, basically. Read a pipe for February.

Robert De Niro talks about his role as William King Hale

Terry Lipshetz: In this next clip, we have, Robert De Niro speaking about his role as William King Hale.

Robert De Niro: Well, on this one, I was aware that Leo and Marty had this project and they were talking about asking me if Marty were asking me to do it. And we were working out Irishman too and so on. So, at one point I said, I told them I'll do it, I'll commit to it. I wasn't quite sure. Hale is what that's all I knew. Then later they told me that they want to change what the book was, doing and make it more about the relationship with Ernest and Hales. So, I said, yeah, that sounds good. And that was it. Then I waited for the script and then we worked on it in pieces. went over it, as I remember. and were going over it during the shooting, sort of titrating it, if you will, because of Leo's, his relationship with Molly, the poisoning and all that and how much he knew or didn't know or half knew and then my involvement and all that. So it was all kind of just making sure we were doing it in the right way. As I been saying, I don't know certain things about him. What he did is so awful. there, were certain things I could understand, but I feel that he did love the, osage or thought he loved them, but somehow felt entitled to do what he did. I don't know how that is. I know he knew he was doing something wrong, possibly, but rationalized to himself that he was doing it for some sort of greater good, whatever that is. His own family, whatever that was. But he had his family. I don't know. it's, one of those things, that you don't always know, the motivations of characters. Sometimes it's more easy, and even then, characters don't know themselves. So I just did my best.

Jesse Plemons plays Tom White, a Bureau of Investigation agent

Terry Lipshetz: We have one more clip. And this is from Jesse Plemons, who played Tom White, a Bureau of Investigation agent investigating the murders.

Jesse Plemons: Well, I had read the book, which was shocking and really, well written. And yeah, I've played characters in the CIA and I read a complete history of that a long time ago. But I didn't know, about the birth of the CIA. I mean, of the FBI or anything. but growing up in Texas, I actually grew up in a town outside of Waco. And there's Texas Ranger Hall of Fame there in my hometown. So there was something really strange about and nice about, playing this character and something that felt like I had I don't know, it's a part of me, I guess. and I read I think it's called Ashes of Glory or something, a, History of the Texas Rangers. And that was really helpful and changed my perspective greatly, because it tells the honest story of the Texas Rangers. And I was brought up to believe that they were these heroes. And I'm sure within that there are some people that had some sort of moral compass. But my, takeaway from that was they were more of a gang that just kind of cleared the way for the White people, and did some really horrific things. So the fact that Tom White was a part of the Texas Rangers and managed to come out such an honest, good man that, treated everyone as equal and was such a voice of justice was intimidating, to take on because his goodness is so amazing, especially for that time.

Director Martin Scorsese talks about the making of the Native American film

Terry Lipshetz: And finally, we do have one more clip. This again is from Director Martin Scorsese. A little bit more in depth talking about the film.

Martin Scorsese: Originally, I was drawn to the story by the book by David Graham, which delineates this extraordinary, tragedy, in American history that I really knew nothing about. And the script was given to me, this was in 2017. And, I understood immediately that trying to approach this material, particularly the nature of this tragedy one would have to do it from the point of view of Leo Sage and, not the Osage as victims, but as people. Ah, to really get to know who they are to understand as much as possible the values and, their appreciation of, the world around them and the life. And so, at one point, while we were working on finishing the film Irishman, we, talked about where is the heart of the story? this systemized, kind of racist tragedy occurred. and yet many of the white people that were there who were perpetrating it were still very good friends with some of the Osage. So what is that about as part of being a human being? and, Leo said, well, what about Ernest, the character? Ernest Burkhart, who he plays in the film? Now, he was going to play another character. He said, what about him? because he's married to Molly, he had to have had something to do with these murders. We don't know what to this day. And yet she stayed with him. And I said, well, she loved him, and he loved her. Did he really love her? I think he did. Is he weak, strong, whatever? And he was manipulated by his uncle. Okay, we know all that. But by going into the love story which, by the way, was, more than hinted at, but was, explained to me by the Osage themselves, they said, don't forget they were in love, Ernest and Molly. And I said, well, let's find out how. I don't know how people could be in know. I can't describe that. It's just that we can't express it. But there's something, a bond between the two of them where she trusted and trusted to the very end. And I think that's part of the tragedy of trusting people who, come from a culture where, we think we're superior and we think the other cultures have to be coming, from I'm American, European, so it's the European culture. The Western culture is superior, so everything else gets wiped out. it's not that simple, because there are values there, and we're all part of the human condition. And so for us, this project was something that, as you say, shine a light, certainly, on this time in history. And coincidentally, in 1921, while this was happening in, Pahuska and in Fairfax, Tulsa was burning, there was the, black Wall Street was going. And we didn't know anything about that until a couple of years ago. And so m this was systematic. The country was made by white Europeans. That's it. Yeah, but the democracy and freedom for all and the pursuit of happiness for all, you see, and, this is what we wanted to get into. And the only way I thought we could do it was to go to the heart of it, really. I was going to say minimalist, in a way, go and go from the center, and then come out not from the outside in. As I said, I felt that when I first read when I looked, we even took the book, I said, if you're going to be dealing with indigenous people, I said, we're going to have to know them. We simply have to know them. And so what that means is they have to be, with us. And it's got to be different from the way other films were made about them or about their world. And so automatically, once the script was in progress, we, sent a group of people to meet, Chief Standing Bear. Then I was brought out to meet them. This is before the, COVID epidemic. And so, once meeting them, I understood that we have to be understood even more that we have to be extremely careful and not, as I pointed out earlier, not stuffy, not, prissy with everything that has to be lived in and felt. And so, in learning about how a blanket is worn, and what the designs of a blanket mean, we learn who the people are and we get to know each other. And it really was interesting. It really was. And it's something that's always fascinated me about American, indigenous people and First Nations. And so I was fascinated by it. and I tried to get as much as I could into, what they put into the film. They also, as you know, ah, so many of the Osage not only, were in front of the camera, but also behind the camera, making, designing and helping making the costumes and all the props, because a lot of this had been forgotten. Even the language has been forgotten. There's only Van Bighorse and, Chris, who's the other guy, he taught the actors how to speak Osage, including Leo and De Niro. And so they were learning their language again. And the young people are coming back, you see, for their rituals now. And the young people are beginning to the young o sage are coming back and, understanding, now the value of who they are and what their nation was and still is. And so this is something that happened. Kind of a rebirth, in a way.

Terry Lipshetz: Wow. You know, hearing from those actors and scorsese again, I'm just getting more and more excited to see this film.

Terry Lipshetz: I think I pretty much have to drop what I'm doing this weekend and get to it.

Bruce Miller: It's on your must list. I'm putting on the must list, but I'm pulling you from all liquids. You can't drink anything before you go in.

Terry Lipshetz: But it's shorter than the Irishman. It's three minutes shorter.

Bruce Miller: Shorter than the Irishman. But you can't pause it. That's the problem. Yeah, it's one of those ones you want to see. And I think even though we can't hear all these interviews and see them on all these talk shows now, which is what would happen, it might be better for us to experience it first, and then when they come back, to award season, as they like to call it. We'll hear all those interviews again, and then we have, a little heads up because I think I love the idea that you don't know anything really, about what's going on, and it just kind of unfolds in front of you. It was remarkable. Remarkable.

Terry Lipshetz: all right, well, on that note, first off, thanks again to EPKTV for providing us with all that audio. It's just difficult to get these actors. I know you can't really get them now because of the ongoing strike. So it's good that we were able to have a source to provide us with audio for this program. I'm looking forward to seeing this movie and looking forward to having you back again next week on another episode of streamed and screened.

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Streamed & Screened: Movie and TV Reviews and Interviews

A podcast about movies and TV, hosted by Bruce Miller, editor of the Sioux City Journal, and longtim 
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