Saturday, May 18, 2024

Cannes: Scorsese Crowd Celebrates “Flower Moon” Success, Robert De Niro Says He Only Learned of Brilliant Ending at Premiere


The end of Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” is dashing surprise: a radio play stage by the FBI that recounts the saga of the Osage murders and how everything worked out. It’s a bit of genius.

But guess what? Robert De Niro, who plays the evil William Hale, didn’t see it until Saturday night’s premiere.

He told me at a small gathering to celebrate the movie yesterday: “It was always mentioned in the script but I didn’t know when or how Marty did it.” Did he like it? “It’s amazing, really.”

In the 1920s, J Edgar Hoover — then young and establishing the FBI –produced these kinds of radio plays to promote the agency. Scorsese told me: “We found the exact play from the time. We used the scripts, and then I came up with the way to stage it.”

Scorsese’s famous Oscar winning film editor Thelma Schoonmaker told me: “Marty didn’t even film it until six months after we were done.” That’s partly because none of the actors from the movie are in the radio play. They’re all other actors putting on a show.

“I’ve done movies where it says at the end, this is what happened to each character,” Scorsese told me. “But I didn’t want to do it here. And this just worked.”

The radio play, and a Native American dance seem from above — pulsating like a heart — are what the audience is left with after three and a half hours. They are worth the wait.

By the way there are several cameos in the film: singer Pete Yorn, brother of Scorsese’s manager Rick York, makes an unexpected appearance. So does Jack White of the White Stripes, and New York icon Radio Man. The biggest surprise is Scorsese himself, in the radio play. It’s a crowning moment.

More from De Niro: he told me he’s gone back three times to see his son, Julian, make his Broadway debut in “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window” starring Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan. Young Julian has quite a bit of stage time. De Niro is immensely proud. He says, “When he said he wanted to act, I told him find an off Broadway play, an off-off Broadway play, anything where people could see him. This started in Brooklyn. And he’s gotten better and better each time I’ve seen him.”

De Niro told me even though he played the part of William Hale — “who’s sort of like a mob boss, but a bad one — he couldn’t understand him at all. “He’s pure evil and he keeps getting in deeper and deeper. There’s some sign that he’s human. And then he’s doing these terrible things. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. The only person like this is Trump.”

The Oscar winner has been a vocal opponent of Donald Trump for years now, which is just great. No matter how much all of us can’t stand Trump, powerful voices like De Niro’s make the biggest impact.

As for Scorsese, his daughter Francesca, will find her parents and “Killers” gang cheering on her first short film at Cannes tonight. It’s called “Fish Out of Water.” Then the whole family is headed to a much needed vacation in Rome.

After all, “Flower Moon” was just finished right before the festival and screened for just a few people before its opening night. Schoonmaker told me: “I’m so relieved now. We were too close it. It seems like everyone likes it!”

That’s an understatement!

“Killers of the Flower Moon” opens in October, then goes to Apple TV Plus. Hopefully Apple will keep it in theaters the way Amazon has let ‘AIR” run, because “Flower Moon” needs to be seen in a theater.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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