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Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street
1 year agoby:
9 10

PLOT: Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, drug-addict, womanizer and wealthy stockbroker, who lived the life of a millionaire using other people's money until his misdeeds caught up with up.

REVIEW: To depict excess properly, you have to get excessive, and boy is that what Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and the rest of the WOLF OF WALL STREET clan do. Showing us the nightmarish drug-and-money fueled orgy of debauchery and immorality of a criminal stockbroker and his cronies, the film is based on the life of Jordan Belfort, who scammed millions out of helpless clients and lived like a king propped up by every vice imaginable. Some people will say this is a shady exercise in glamorizing the exploits of a pitiless crook, that the fruits of Belfort's enterprise are just too appealing to be worried about the pitfalls (meager jail time, brutal hangovers). But Scorsese has made an absolutely pitch-perfect comedy; at 71-years-old, we should trust that the man knows what he's doing, and the proof is in every wild frame of this bizarre film.

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is not exactly a biopic of Belfort; it spends very little time on his youth or even his rags-to-riches tale. He started off humbly, working at a firm (where he is called pond scum) and being mentored by a brash, coked-up Matthew McConaughey, who imparts notes of wisdom that will forever change the initially-idealic Belfort's way of thinking. Pearls like "jerk off at least twice a day" and cocaine will help you dial the phone faster, and the all-important lesson that the client's money is not your concern, your own money is. Before you know it, Jordan gets his license and is ready to take on the world - but the Wall Street crash of 1987, known as Black Monday, ruins his life in an instant; he's jobless and hopeless, contemplating becoming a stock boy while his wife (Cristin Milioti) ponders selling her engagement ring.

But Belfort gets another chance at a low-rent firm in Long Island, where he quickly schools the shleps on hand how to wring large commissions out of even the lowliest of penny stocks. Belfort assembles a gang of bozos who are just as conscience-free as he is, and though they lack insight or intelligence, they're able to follow his lead by sticking to the main rule of the trade, which is you never let the client go until you've conned them into buying more than they're comfortable with. Thus, Belfort quickly starts off his own firm, called Stratton Oakmont, just because it sounds dignified, and proceeds to move them up the food chain until they're all making millions through every illegal scam you can think of.

Once Scorsese and writer Terence Winter have established the coming-up angle, they dive fully into a nonstop marathon of jacked-up depravity that has to be seen to be believed. These guys' sexual predilections, their drug preferences, their lowly concepts of fun (dwarf-tossing! shaving the secretary's head!) are dramatized in gruelingly amusing detail. An apt alternate name for the firm's office would be "Animal House," since these fellas are barely distinguishable from frat boys on their worst days. The yachts, the houses in the Hamptons, the trips to Vegas - Scorsese displays the boorish adventures of Belfort and his men with sizzling energy; since these idiots are almost always high or drunk, barely able to stumble from one terrible decision to the next, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET burns with that same crazed attitude, bounding gleefully from one sequence to the next with no look back. Scorsese makes us live this psychotic fever dream, shrewdly aggrandizing these shenanigans while pointedly noting how hollow and grotesque it all is.

It's easy to say that this is Scorsese in GOODFELLAS/CASINO mode; Belfort's voice-over, the adrenaline rush of crime, the manic intensity of the protagonists, all harken back to Scorsese's scary-fun mob movies. But WOLF is working on a different level; it's surreality is undeniable, and every scene bubbles with a canny grasp of the satirical. Watch the shots of DiCaprio's employees as they go absolutely bonkers in their office, making calls, arguing, doing blow, turning into neanderthals with suits and ties. Scorsese could certainly fool us into thinking "that's how it really is," but the truth is these moments are existing in a heightened reality. Scorsese is in no way patting these people on the back; he's giving us the inside look at how draining and ridiculous it can be to live your life as a raging party animal. The movie itself is draining - it's intentionally bloated and excessive at three hours. This is Scorsese wearing you down with all the "fun" these boys are having.

It's safe to say, in my estimation, that this is the best Leonardo DiCaprio has ever been. There's no vanity in the performance; he plumbs the depths of Belfort's hedonism shockingly well, sometimes coming off as a cocky leader and showman, other times rampaging bug-eyed and drooling through moments he'll barely remember or regret. Stunningly, DiCaprio is frequently hilarious (who knew Leo was funny?), with a handful of instant-classic rants and speeches. The highlight is certainly a prolonged, uproarious sequence where Jordan is so doped up on qualudes (his drug of choice) that he can barely figure out how to leave a country club and enter his car. This goes on for so long it shouldn't work but it does, thanks to Scorsese's persistence and DiCaprio's amazingly vivid mimicry of a slobbering, nearly catatonic Belfort as he struggles to speak and move. The culmination of this scene, a sloppy tussle between Belfort and his right-hand man Donnie (Jonah Hill) is a show-stopper.

Scorsese has also rounded up a terrific supporting cast, chief among them Hill as Donnie Azoff, a sick puppy who latches onto Jordan the moment he spots his expensive car. With shiny white (false) teeth and a husky New York-Jewish accent, Hill shows us another side to his comedic timing, as Donnie's every hideous whim is performed with the snotty humor of a privileged child. Even more than Jordan, he's someone you love to hate. Also really shining is Margot Robbie, as the beautiful trophy wife Jordan eventually kicks his first wife to the curb for. Robbie is unfamiliar to me, but I was astounded to learn she's Australian; her Brooklyn accent is so flawless it's unbelievable. Not just another pretty face, Robbie is a real discovery by Scorsese. Rob Reiner has a great small part as Jordan's fiery father. McConaughey's time on screen is brief but suitably memorable. Kyle Chandler lends some authority, and bitter humor, to the role of the FBI agent who tracks down all of Jordan's misdeeds. And Jean Dujardin (he of THE ARTIST fame) is really splendid in a small but crucial role as a Swiss banker in cahoots with the irresponsible brokers.

But, as can be counted upon, this is Scorsese's show. Once again he proves why he's likely this generation's best director, and it's heartening to learn he still has tricks up his sleeve. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is a clever condemnation of the frenzied joyride it appears to be glorifying, leaving you feeling strangely morose when it's all over - the comedown after a glorious high. Yet you still leave thinking it's the funniest movie of the year by far. Mr. Scorsese, we're still in awe of you.

Source: JoBlo.com

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-10
1:07PM on 12/24/2013

Dumb beyond words

It's yet another tiresome anti-capitalist screed written, produced, and marketed by Hollywood capitalists.

Leonardo DiCaprio? Worth 200 Million. [link]

Martin Scorsese? Worth 70 Million. [link]

These people are preaching about greed? Maybe when they start spreading their own wealth around I'll start giving their idiotic pontifications some respect.

I mean really, the same deeply moronic message about greed and excess could have been made with a movie about Charlie Sheen; the ">
It's yet another tiresome anti-capitalist screed written, produced, and marketed by Hollywood capitalists.

Leonardo DiCaprio? Worth 200 Million. [link]

Martin Scorsese? Worth 70 Million. [link]

These people are preaching about greed? Maybe when they start spreading their own wealth around I'll start giving their idiotic pontifications some respect.

I mean really, the same deeply moronic message about greed and excess could have been made with a movie about Charlie Sheen; the Wolf of Hollywood.
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12:01PM on 12/25/2013
Spreading their own wealth? Unlike the characters in the film they depict, neither DiCaprio or Scorsese defrauded their clients of over $200mil and only had to pay back half of it... So no, they should not be spreading their own wealth, as they EARNED it fair and square.

Having said that, I will not be seeing this film. "Some people will say this is a shady exercise in glamorizing the exploits of a pitiless crook" unfortunately that thought had already entered my head due to the source
Spreading their own wealth? Unlike the characters in the film they depict, neither DiCaprio or Scorsese defrauded their clients of over $200mil and only had to pay back half of it... So no, they should not be spreading their own wealth, as they EARNED it fair and square.

Having said that, I will not be seeing this film. "Some people will say this is a shady exercise in glamorizing the exploits of a pitiless crook" unfortunately that thought had already entered my head due to the source material, having read up on the scum DiCaprio is glamorizing. If the douche hadn't ended up still a millionaire after 2yrs of jail time, then I'd give this movie a chance. But the fact the asshole is back doing what he had been doing before jail means I won't be seeing this flick. It DOES glamorize Belfort no matter which way you spin it.
11:16PM on 12/22/2013
I can't wait for this movie to come out, I had such high hopes for it when I first heard about it. Scorsese never ceases to impress, and while I love when he delves into street culture, his other films are just as interesting and entertaining. I have my fingers crossed because I'm pulling for him, but I think Leo's string of strong performances and bad luck with awards is going to continue.
I can't wait for this movie to come out, I had such high hopes for it when I first heard about it. Scorsese never ceases to impress, and while I love when he delves into street culture, his other films are just as interesting and entertaining. I have my fingers crossed because I'm pulling for him, but I think Leo's string of strong performances and bad luck with awards is going to continue.
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+8
7:08PM on 12/22/2013
I couldn't tell if that was a review or a blowjob lol
I couldn't tell if that was a review or a blowjob lol
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1:36PM on 12/21/2013
Fierce competition, yes, but Leo is winning the Oscar this year. No doubt about it.
Fierce competition, yes, but Leo is winning the Oscar this year. No doubt about it.
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+3
2:14PM on 12/20/2013
I've been excited for this one. I'm glad it's great and it being a comedy is also nice coming from Scorsese. I like all involved and it sounds even better than I thought it would be. Will be checking this out on Xmas.
I've been excited for this one. I'm glad it's great and it being a comedy is also nice coming from Scorsese. I like all involved and it sounds even better than I thought it would be. Will be checking this out on Xmas.
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1:33PM on 12/20/2013

Thought:

I wonder what it's like for a guy like DiCaprio, who is notoriously well paid and spends his off-time banging an endless stream of gorgeous models while chilling on super yachts, to play a guy like Belfort.
I wonder what it's like for a guy like DiCaprio, who is notoriously well paid and spends his off-time banging an endless stream of gorgeous models while chilling on super yachts, to play a guy like Belfort.
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12:39PM on 12/20/2013
It's a crime that Leonardo DiCaprio hasn't won an Oscar yet, after all of the absolutely extraordinary performances he has given over the past 15 years or so. Hell, even his performance in This Boys Life and The Basketball Diaries should have at least garnered a nomination each. Fingers crossed. Let's hope this will be the film to finally give him the long overdue award.
It's a crime that Leonardo DiCaprio hasn't won an Oscar yet, after all of the absolutely extraordinary performances he has given over the past 15 years or so. Hell, even his performance in This Boys Life and The Basketball Diaries should have at least garnered a nomination each. Fingers crossed. Let's hope this will be the film to finally give him the long overdue award.
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12:35PM on 12/20/2013

Saw it this past Wednesday

AND BY GOD this is the movie of the year! Hand DiCaprio his overdue Oscar and Jonah Hill will definitely win for Supporting Actor. I loved every second of the 3 hours. Especially when he's blowing coke into a hooker's asshole within the fist minute of the movie. Can definitely see why it was rated NC-17 at first. Just hope we can get the director's cut one day. But damn good movie.
AND BY GOD this is the movie of the year! Hand DiCaprio his overdue Oscar and Jonah Hill will definitely win for Supporting Actor. I loved every second of the 3 hours. Especially when he's blowing coke into a hooker's asshole within the fist minute of the movie. Can definitely see why it was rated NC-17 at first. Just hope we can get the director's cut one day. But damn good movie.
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+10
12:27PM on 12/20/2013

Qualude of solace

Love that description of Jordan leaving the country club.
Love that description of Jordan leaving the country club.
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11:55AM on 12/20/2013
What a great Christmas it will be at the movies!
What a great Christmas it will be at the movies!
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11:51AM on 12/20/2013

Sounds like a blast, but funniest movie of the year?

I wasn't aware this is supposed to be a straight up comedy... It looked like a good time and all but that's a bold statement. This Is The End, The Heat, We're The Millers - Those are the funniest movies of the year.
I wasn't aware this is supposed to be a straight up comedy... It looked like a good time and all but that's a bold statement. This Is The End, The Heat, We're The Millers - Those are the funniest movies of the year.
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12:04PM on 12/25/2013
This Is The End was a pitiful way to end the Cornetto Trilogy. Horrible, horrible movie. Walked out of the theater, and turned it off 1hr into the Bluray when I tried to give it a second chance.
This Is The End was a pitiful way to end the Cornetto Trilogy. Horrible, horrible movie. Walked out of the theater, and turned it off 1hr into the Bluray when I tried to give it a second chance.
+9
11:47AM on 12/20/2013
Great news!
Great news!
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