By Sam Howe
The Martin Scorsese discourse online has reared once again its ugly head, with this particular set of posts focusing on the notion that most Scorsese films are “the same” and that he repeats the same tropes over and over again. While anyone who has watched more than just a couple of Scorsese films could tell you this is a ridiculous statement, as very few people would say that “Raging Bull,” “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “Hugo,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” are repeating themselves; it just so happens that some of the more famous Scorsese films are in the gangster genre and, therefore, people assume this is all he does.
However, this re-emergence of opinions couldn’t have come at a better time, as we recently got more details about the next project Scorsese will be tackling – and it’s absolutely fascinating for many reasons. One of which is that it’s a direct contradiction to the latest discourse. “Killers of the Flower Moon,” a western mixed with drama and true-crime, will be his next project and it will look at the early days of the FBI.
The specific genre, a western, is one that Scorsese has never done before, and while it was once one of the most bankable genres, in the more recent times of cinema it has become an almost forgotten art. This, therefore, makes perfect sense for someone like Scorsese to bring it back in a big way, and mixing this with true crime creates the opportunity for a truly unique cinematic experience. The online discourse has been based on the notion that Scorsese remakes the same film over and over, and packages it as something new, but this is a truly one-off project and directly argues against the people who have been attacking him.
The film has two confirmed stars: Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. This would be huge news in any scenario, but it’s even bigger because the film they are teaming up for is a Martin Scorsese picture. De Niro, and then more recently, DiCaprio, have been Scorsese’s most frequent and most iconic leading men, and for them to finally be teaming up together with Scorsese feels like a culmination of everyone’s careers, especially for Scorsese and De Niro.
Starting in 1973 with “Mean Streets,” and spanning decades through to 2019’s “The Irishman,” the collaboration between “Bob and Marty” has become arguably the most influential and respected partnerships in modern cinema; but following eight collaborations in the 1973-95 period, the two hadn’t worked together until “The Irishman” in 2019, and in that meantime, a rising star became Scorsese’s new muse. In the 2002-2013 period, Leonardo DiCaprio starred in five Scorsese films. This partnership brought a new energy, dynamic, and challenge to the films of Martin Scorsese, and also took DiCaprio from being a “pretty boy” movie star to a respected character actor of the level of De Niro himself. This makes bringing the two together at last almost feel like an official passing of the torch from one legend to another.
With “Silence” being his definitive take on another theme he has previously explored (religion), “The Irishman” finally bringing together De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci, and now “Killers of the Flower Moon” bringing together DiCaprio and De Niro, it’s tough not to get the sense that Scorsese is more aware now than ever of his life and career as he begins to enter a later stage, acting quickly to bring together the projects and casts he has always dreamed of. Many of Scorsese’s films have had varying examinations of aging men reflecting on their lives and careers, and in a situation where life may imitate art, Scorsese now seems to be reflecting on his career and focusing on getting the projects made that he has always wanted to.
The specific dynamic between DiCaprio and De Niro in this film (DiCaprio is set to play an investigator for the newly formed FBI, and De Niro appears likely to play the serial killer) is likely to be fascinating to watch play out as, while they have both played the role of “leading man” throughout their careers, they have both always been much more comfortable as “character actors” and both have distinctly different energies that they bring to the films that they star in. De Niro is a legendary actor who’s now getting towards the later stages of his career, whereas DiCaprio is arguably hitting his prime – especially now the burden of winning an Oscar is off his back – and the two of them have the potential to create one of cinemas greatest double acts (as long as the characters actually interact a lot throughout the film, although De Niro and Pacino managed it without interacting much in “Heat”).
“Killers of the Flower Moon” is likely to hit cinemas in 2021 with Paramount now officially backing the film, and while it’s still in the very early stages, it’s already shaping up to be a monumental piece of cinema, and hopefully one that could put a definitive end to the discourse surrounding Martin Scorsese and his influential works.
What do you think of this upcoming project between Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio & Robert De Niro? Are you excited? Indifferent? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.
You can follow Sam and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @SamHowe14