"Killers of the Flower Moon." Courtesy of Apple TV+.
Much like last week with Taylor Swift, this weekend is all about Martin Scorsese. His newest epic, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” is finally coming to theaters after years of speculation about what the director would do with one of the most significant pieces of historical nonfiction in recent memory. The answer is a three-and-a-half-hour western epic that is already being celebrated as one of his all-time best films. However, that’s not the only thing worth seeing this weekend. We also have a raunchy, R-rated musical co-starring Megan Thee Stallion, a documentary about one of the greatest novelists of all time, and Nicolas Cage.
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (In Theaters)
Martin Scorsese’s latest epic reunites the director with longtime collaborators Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro for an adaptation of David Grann’s 2017 book, a nonfiction release centering around a series of murders committed against the Osage Native Americans in Oklahoma. Over the course of multiple decades in the early 20th century, William Hale (played by DeNiro in the film) orchestrated at least 60 confirmed murders, although estimates say it could actually be in the hundreds. Hale, a lifelong cattle rancher, organized many of the murders to inherit valuable land owned by Osage families.
Killers is the latest Scorsese epic to deconstruct real-life events through his unique lens. It’s incredible how electric the 80-year-old director’s films still are, arguably even more so than in the past. Scorsese recently talked about how he’s just now beginning to see the true potential of cinema, despite the fact that he has nearly six decades of work behind him. For now, however, we can all be grateful that Scorsese shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
“Dicks: The Musical” (In Theaters)
Before Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp became regular correspondents on Comedy Central’s “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper,” they created “Fucking Identical Twins,” a musical they also starred in about two estranged identical twins who set out on a journey to reunite their parents after decades apart. With a new, more audience-friendly title (but only slightly), “Dicks: The Musical” is finally coming to theaters years after an adaptation was announced in 2016.
Like many off-Broadway musicals, “Dicks” is a parody of the more traditional Broadway tropes, with hilarious and vulgar showtunes that aren’t afraid to poke fun at the same musical theater enthusiasts who might be interested in hearing them. Jackson and Sharp have more than a decade of collaboration under their belt. If nothing else, the film will expose them to a much larger audience and hopefully lead to some more projects from them in the near future.
“The Pigeon Tunnel” (Apple TV+)
Legendary documentary filmmaker Errol Morris is back with his latest cinematic profile. This time around, he goes in-depth with author John le Carré, who has written some of the most acclaimed spy novels of all time and even worked as a spy himself in the mid-20th century. Adaptations of le Carré’s work include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and A Most Wanted Man, but Morris’ adaptation is one of le Carré’s own life. His memoir of the same name was published in 2016, just a few years before his death in 2020. As of 2023, his interview in “The Pigeon Tunnel” was the last one of his life.
The film’s timeline covers almost all of le Carré’s 89-year life, focusing especially on the Cold War espionage that inspired many of his novels. The film is interwoven with archival footage from the different eras portrayed in le Carré’s stories, as well as some beautifully filmed interviews by Morris, who more or less invented the technique of having documentary subjects speak into the camera when they answer questions.
Even if you’re not too familiar with le Carré’s work (or Morris’, for that matter) The Pigeon Tunnel features two all-time greats creating something that isn’t just about a great novelist, but the significant historical moments that inspired him to start writing in the first place.
“Butcher’s Crossing” (In Theaters)
Say what you will about Nicolas Cage, but he is, if nothing else, the most unpredictable actor working today. He’s like the Bigfoot of Hollywood. You never know when you’re going to see him or where, but when you do, you drop everything and watch. While we wait for Dream Scenario to come out following its warm reception at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, fans can see (bald!) Nicolas Cage in a new western, “Butcher’s Crossing.”
Based on a popular novel, the film stars Cage as a buffalo hunter in the 1870s who takes a young Harvard dropout under his wing during a hunt in Colorado. Although it’s taken more than 60 years to adapt the 1960 novel for the screen, the original text did inspire authors like Cormac McCarthy, whose novels have been adapted into great films like “No Country For Old Men” and “Blood Meridian.”
Cage’s western and neo-western films like “Joe” or “Pig” are often some of his best, especially because he tends to go against type in these films, giving audiences a quieter, more pensive Nicolas Cage than they’re used to. “Butcher’s Crossing” looks like another one of those projects, a quiet and patient film that gives Cage a chance to really flex his acting chops.
“Malibu Horror Story” (In Theaters)
Last but not least, we have an indie horror about a documentary film crew who decide to search for four teenage boys who went missing in a cave in Malibu, California. Convinced that their disappearance has a paranormal explanation, the filmmakers take their cameras and run headfirst into the cave where the kids were last seen in the hopes of learning more about their disappearance.
Despite the hokey title, the trailer for “Malibu Horror Story” promises a story reminiscent of 2006’s “The Descent” and 2014’s As Above So Below”. If you’ve seen them, you know those are two of the scariest movies ever made. Even if “Malibu” is half as good as those two, we’re in for a good time. You can’t ask for much more than a found footage movie set inside a cave.
Josef Rodriguez is a writer, filmmaker, and film critic living in New York City.