Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Killers of the Flower Moon, Chicago Film Fest, and Horror Picks for Halloween

October 24th, 2023 | Robin

The Pinnacle

Killers of the Flower Moon (Film, US, Martin Scorsese, 2023) Ambitious but dim WWI vet (Leonardo di Caprio) marries a self-possessed Osage woman (Lily Gladstone) and conspires with his wealthy, respected uncle (Robert De Niro) to murder her family for their oil money. Scorsese favors the restrained side of his style in the latest, epic entry in his sprawling saga of American crime. As historical figure Ernest Burkhart, di Caprio plays a type of person often seen in real life but typically written out of fictional portrayals, one of impossibly muddled, contradictory intentions. —RDL

Killers of the Flower Moon (Film, US, Martin Scorsese, 2023) Malleable nephew Ernest (Leonardo di Caprio) of Osage County rancher Bill “King” Hale (Robert De Niro) marries an Osage woman (and potential oil rights heiress) Molly (Lily Gladstone) to further his uncle’s murderous conspiracy. Ernest and Molly’s unequal (and uneven) love story provides the emotional throughline of a film that begins as a gangster Western and ends (literally) as a law-and-order tale. Gladstone also, simultaneously, plays the “woman in a serial killer movie who cannot reveal herself” part in a terrifyingly realistic key. —KH


Alien Island (Film, Chile/Italy, Cristóbal Valenzuela, 2023) Documentary begins with Chilean shortwave operators’ contacts with UFO witnesses in 1984, which led to lengthy radio discussions with “Ariel,” the representative of an unspecified island in southern Chile called “Friendship.” Without giving away the left turns the story takes, I can say the film makers probably found the hoaxer behind Ariel, and have a good reason for the seemingly irrelevant footage of Pinochet at the beginning. If there’s such a thing as a noir UFO documentary, this is kind of that. —KH

El Conde (FIlm, Chile, Pablo Larraín, 2023) When a fresh wave of blood-draining murders rocks modern day Santiago, the corrupt children of the vampire known as Augusto Pinochet (Jaime Vadell) travel to his island redoubt hoping to secure their share of his hidden wealth. Political satire borrows the pacing and black and white look of Browning’s 1931 Dracula for a sometimes poetic examination of our world’s truly immortal evil.—RDL

The Crime is Mine (Film, France, François Ozon, 2023) Young, impoverished, and semi-talented roommates, actress Madeline (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) and lawyer Pauline (Rebecca Marder) take credit for the murder of an odious producer and set 1935 Paris law and society on its ear. Isabelle Huppert as a fading silent star who refuses to fade adds a larger-than-life splash to this amiable neo-screwball exercise, which could be more frenetic but could hardly be more delightful. —KH

Late Night With the Devil (Film, Australia/UAE, Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, 2023) Also-ran talk-show host Jack Delroy (David Dostmalchian) books a victim of demonic possession (Ingrid Torelli) on his show on Halloween night 1977 in a make-or-break ploy for ratings. Beginning with a mockumentary exposition dump, the movie takes off with the “lost master tape” of that suppressed episode and never looks back. Dostmalchian hits the perfect mix of narcissism and flop sweat, and the Cairneses rival Ti West in their 1970s recall. —KH

Men (Film, UK, Alex Garland, 2022) Seeking calm after the shocking death of her abusive husband, a woman (Jessie Buckley) books a stay at a gorgeous country house, only to realize that something is very wrong with the local men (all played by Rory Kinnear.) Folk horror of aggressive male insecurity elegantly calibrates its descent from the subtly off-putting to hallucinatory body terror.—RDL

The Universal Theory (Film, Germany/Austria/Switzerland, Timm Kröger, 2023) At a physics conference in the Austrian Alps in 1962, grad student Johannes (Jan Bülow) meets pianist Karin (Olivia Ross) amid increasingly surreal (and murderous) machinations. If you can imagine a beautifully-shot paranoid SF thriller about the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (which in our timeline was proposed in 1957), this is one possible outcome of that imagination. —KH

The Witch’s Mirror (Film, Mexico, Chano Urueta, 1962) When a plastic surgeon murders his wife, their housekeeper draws on her infernal powers to exact grim vengeance. Surreal contribution to the 60s gothic revival stitches together disparate horror motifs like the product of a sinister, owl-haunted laboratory.—RDL


Hello Ghost (Film, Indonesia, Indra Gunawan, 2023) Lonely young man’s suicide attempt allows him to see a quartet of ghosts, who demand that he perform tasks to complete their unfinished business. Innocuous supernatural comedy winds up to an unexpected tearjerker hammerblow. Remake of a 2010 Korean film.—RDL

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