FILM CRITIQUE: The Wolf Of Wall Street
FILM CRITIQUE: The Wolf Of Wall Street
By Roger M. Mayer
(Editor’s note, I’ve only been twisting Roger’s arm to write about movies here for like ummm…. oh, five years… no big deal. Either way, I’m stoked to have him FINALLY on the team of writers here. Expect more good shit like this gem you’re about to read from one of my favorite movie knowledge holders! Dude is amazing, he knows everything about movies and his taste is BULLETPROOF bitches! Oh, and for the record, if you didn’t like this movie there’s no way we can be friends! – TK)
“THE WOLF OF WALL STREET” TRAILER
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. OK, Martin Scorsese is an institution. He’s made some of the most influential films of all time and has grafted his technique and style onto so many filmmakers today that it’s hard to count them all. Ebert once said that MEAN STREETS was the blueprint for modern cinema. That film is on my short list of the 15 greatest films ever made. TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL and GOODFELLAS are routinely on many best ever lists. THE DEPARTED won him the Oscar and Best Picture. THE LAST WALTZ is considered the greatest concert film ever made, too.
What I like, though, are his near masterpieces and several of his films that people haven’t all unanimously loved or even liked at all. I love THE KING OF COMEDY, AFTER HOURS, CAPE FEAR, KUNDUN and CASINO. Hell, I may be the only person that really likes BRINGING OUT THE DEAD. Films that I don’t love are GANGS OF NEW YORK, HUGO and SHINE A LIGHT. The rest I can admire to some degree. I have seen them all (including all of his shorts, other docs – the Dylan doc not being really his film in the first place – and assorted features). The main thing is that the man was never afraid. That is, not until he went Oscar-baiting in the 2000s. But I’ll give a man in his 60s (at that time) a pass. THE AVIATOR wasn’t bad, just mechanical.
With that I offer THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. It’s not a masterpiece, not by a longshot. It’s excessively self-indulgent, repetitive and less stylized than, what I feel is his closest and superior competition of the year in depicting unbound debauchery, SPRING BREAKERS. The kids have finally caught up to him in that regard. All that being said, it’s also one hell of a fucking ride. I was giddy after leaving the theater and kept ruminating equally with everything right as well as everything wrong with the film. Everything wrong is just so fascinating and, goddamn, I wish I could get away with something like it in the future as a producer.
Independently financed by Red Granite Pictures for 100 million dollars, who gave Scorsese and DiCaprio full producing powers, it’s as if the adults let the children run the playground, with the bullies tear-assing around and kicking the shit out of all the other kids while giving the finger back at the adults. I mean, it’s a three-hour black comedy. Really? In these modern times of studios pandering to the lowest common denominator and high-priced indies making milquetoast slack to cover their financial interests there can exist an R-rated, 100 million dollar black comedy about the greed-induced 1980s. And one that shamelessly refuses to moralize all of its gleefully presented misconduct and exceptionally un-PC behavior. It’s astounding…and badass.
There are pundits already lining up to denounce the film’s perspective. Well…duh. It’s unrepentant. Yes, it’s misogynistic. Yes, it’s glorifying repulsive and repugnant behavior. Yes, it’s finding humor in corruption put upon all of us. The film puts us in the catbird’s seat. We are DiCaprio and we’re all relishing the experience. Yeah, uh, that’s the point. Why not live in those shoes for awhile. You decide if you like it or not. Hoo-fucking-ray. We didn’t mind being in Henry Hill’s shoes in GOODFELLAS, did we. Why does this film touch such a nerve. Because this shit hits all of us, that’s why. Any one of us could have been scooped up into those boiler rooms and made a mint without understanding the ramifications. These are frat boys without the college education. Put a million dollars in a 20-year old’s hands who never thought he could afford to buy a new car let alone a yacht and see how long he goes before playing darts with midgets.
The movie is long. There are so many scenes that could have been obviously shortened it would make the most rudimentary audience member an expert editor. I won’t point them out now because I believe that’s part of its overall charm. You could see Scorsese and DiCaprio giggling at their amazement that anyone would let them hang on some of those scenes. Fuck, it’s almost punk.
The film is bright, bouncy, bubblegum. The poster’s predominant yellow color scheme is accurate. It’s loud, obnoxious and obscene. The performances are uniformly terrific, especially DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. It may be my favorite Leonardo DiCaprio ever. He doesn’t so much as lose himself in the character as the character becomes him. It’s DiCaprio, not Jordan Belfort. Like Paul Newman in THE HUSTLER. I always felt that, despite knowing his name is Fast Eddie Felson, he is really Paul Newman. DiCaprio’s celebrity brings the character to the table. I feel that he really lives that life. It works. Those monologues Terence Winter gives him are showstoppers. Jonah Hill continues his assent into becoming a serious actor (even if he’s stroking his dick in public and choking on drugs, you’ll see). There are so many great actors contributing to this film including Rob Reiner, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bernthal, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Spike Jonze, Jean Dujardin and Joanna Lumley (from the British comedy series “Absolutely Fabulous”).
This won’t go down as Scorsese’s best work but I’ll venture to say that it is his most personal film that’s he made in some time. He’s having as much fun as he’s had since THE DEPARTED, but really since AFTER HOURS. It’s his and DiCaprio’s show. The old maxim, “One for them, one for me,” holds true here. Except he’s been giving so many for them for so long that he’s been developing a grand case of blue balls. In many ways, literally and figuratively, he lets one loose on all of us here…with DiCaprio’s dick pointing straight at us.
Man, give me some of those Quaalude Lemmon 714s. It’ll hurt less.
(Editors other note: for bonus shits and giggles…. watch “Jordan Belfort – The Real Wolf of Wall Street”)