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The Wolf of Wall Street

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Scott Roberts
The Wolf of Wall Street
on Jan 8, 2014 at 11:22:42 pm







Premise: Stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes from rags to riches by selling terrible stocks to gullible people in the early 90s, and perhaps maybe he possibly didn't do it the most legal way he could think of. His "poor" life choices eventually landed the real life Belfort in prison, but not after many years of living in a mansion where he took extravagant drugs and had freaky sex on a regular basis. This movie reminded me of a great line from the show Clone High; when Mr. B asks Principal Scudworth why he's wasting all of his newly earned money, and Scudworth responds "I watched the first two-thirds of VH-1's M.C. Hammer: Behind the Music, and if there's one thing I learned about money, it's that it never runs out!" You could say the same for Goodfellas, Wall Street, and Scarface too. It's almost like anyone who idolizes these characters never seem to make it to the end of the films...?

Pros:

-It should be required that the first compliment given to The Wolf of Wall Street is to the big Qualuudes scene. Oh my god, what a fantastic scene. Easily the best sequence of events in any film this year. Who would have guessed that DiCaprio was brilliant at Jim Carrey-esk physical comedy? And the Popeye ending was the perfect kicker. I definitely cackled loudly at this scene (and maybe the entire movie) more than any comedy this year. Wolf of Wall Street is hilarious.

-This is probably my favorite pairing of Scorsese and DiCaprio. Leo just works in this movie. I like him better as a goofy unhinged yelling guy, as opposed to the uber-serious unhinged yelling guy he normally plays. I don't have much against the guy, really, but watching him pop'n'lock and twitch around from drugs was perhaps his most entertaining performance yet.

-Jonah Hill was also great as Belfort's sidekick and business partner, Donnie, who spit out some great comedy lines through his over-sized teeth. It's funny to think of the Cartman-like old Jonah Hill from 2008, who now gets to act as best friends to the likes of Brad Pitt and DiCaprio. I guess he has more range than most of his Apatow buddies... I'll always remember him as the guy who yelled at Jay Baruchel for shaving his body hair over the toilet in Knocked Up.

-I enjoyed how the character of Belfort wasn't such a bad guy until he had one lunch meeting with Matthew McConaughey, and he gave him the advice to do cocaine all the time and steal people's money. Then we never see that character again.

-Even at risk of sounding like a lowlife, I appreciate a hefty dose of gratuitous nudity. And, DAMN, there is a *lot* of gratuitous nudity in this. Hey, leave me alone! If Scorsese wants to go all out, let the man go all out! They guy is an artist! We see DiCaprio's butt, too! A piece of advice: don't go see this movie with your parents.

-It also set the record for a narrative, theatrically released film using the F-word. 506 times! No seriously, don't go see this movie with your parents.

-Up until I saw the film, I thought the lead girl in the commercials was an impossibly young-looking Jaime Pressly, but it turned out to be some Australian actress I've never heard of (Margot Robbie) . She did a pretty good annoying Brooklyn accent. Gotta have the strong accented woman to counter the insane protagonist, or you wouldn't have a classic Marty movie!

-For a three-hour-long film, the time flew by. When I try to think about why that happened for this movie, but not for Pirates of the Caribbean 4; I think it has to do with the directing, the pacing, and the subject matter. (in your face, Pirates 4, you completely unrelated crapfest)

-Despite knowing how it was going to end (as it's based on real life), it takes some good twists and turns in the middle, and kept me entertained throughout.

-It's pretty funny to think about 71-year-old Martin Scorsese directing scenes like this one below. You know what I'm talking about if you've seen the movie.




Cons:

-The only glaring negative thing that sticks out in my mind about this film is that, in one way or another, the real life Jordan Belfort will benefit from this movie. I've already read that he has to give all of the film's profit that *he* would make to the government, so that the restitution of his victims can continue, but still... That *is* helping him climb out of his debt. I suppose the silver lining would be that the victims are finally getting paid, but at what potential cost? Even the negative exposure that this film has given Belfort (and trust me, it's negative, I came away thinking he was a complete jabroni), it will still benefit him with exposure in general. Now he can sell more books and do more motivational speaking seminars. If the film is at fault for anything, it's that I didn't know who Jordan Belfort was until the movie started getting promotion, and now I've had the displeasure of reading about his horrible life.

-I guess another thing of note is that Belfort himself wrote the book for which this movie is based. So I'm sure it full of Belfort's exaggerations and misinformation about himself and the way that others thought of him. I'm sure it's safe to assume that the lavish lifestyle that we saw in the film is probably touched up to make him look like he had more fun than he actually did. If you look at any videos of modern-day Jordan Belfort, it's hard to imagine him being the DiCaprio-esk playboy that Scorsese made him out to be.


Final Thoughts: Despite what may be potentially inaccurate and over-the-top, this is a Martin Scorsese movie, and a hilarious one at that. He's a director who hasn't really lost his touch in his old age, and The Wolf of Wall Street might be one of my favorite of his modern era films. Just make sure you get all the way to the end, and don't just stop after the part when Belfort is driving his yacht and snorting cocaine off girls' butts.

9 out of 10


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Mark Suszko
Re: The Wolf of Wall Street
on Jan 9, 2014 at 2:41:28 pm

I read a disturbing news article about the screening of this movie in a theatre near Wall Street, for actual stock traders. The reporter was creeped out by the audience applauding all the"wrong" things done in this movie; all the rip-offs of investors, all the abuses and crimes, ethical violations and professional malfeasance - apparently, the traders were all like "$%K-YEAH!" and not "getting it".

i think it may explain our current economy's problems in a new light.

Apparently, Marty did such a good job portraying the essence of those times, that less perceptive people are having a hard time understanding it's a cautionary tale, and not an homage, glorifying the lifestyle.

I'm old enough to remember the negative effects on some of my school's local frat houses when "Animal House" came out, and the effects on the less perceptive kids in high school when "Beavis and Butt-Head" first debuted. Like kids who try to imitate what they see in Three Stooges movies, there are some who may never get that you're not supposed to model yourself on the bad example.


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Mike Cohen
Re: The Wolf of Wall Street
on Jan 9, 2014 at 2:44:50 pm

News reporters (not movie reviewers) and political pundits who likely will not even see the movie, are experts at taking things out of context. I read that people in Hollywood have been quoted as saying "shame on you Marty" for some of the depictions of debauchery, as if he set out to make a shocking movie. The fact that these events are based upon actual events is shocking in and of itself.

Looks like a great movie.

Mike Cohen


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Mark Suszko
Re: The Wolf of Wall Street
on Jan 9, 2014 at 4:49:28 pm

I can't think of a movie Marty's made that isn't good.


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Scott Roberts
Re: The Wolf of Wall Street
on Jan 11, 2014 at 12:07:31 am

Well, this has all happened before, hasn't it? Didn't all the amped up Wall Street bros all aspire to be Gordon Gecko 25 years ago? And doesn't every drug dealer want to be Tony Montana for some reason, like they forget Gecko ended up in prison and Montana gets gunned down?

Normal people like us who see films like these are able to separate the scumbags from the rest of us, and acknowledge their terribleness. But there will always be idiots who only see the endless flow of riches before the consequence. And, HOPEFULLY, they get what they deserve at some point in their real lives.

I'm just surprised that more people didn't aspire to be Voldemort after seeing Harry Potter. "There is no good or evil, only power." I mean, c'mon, that's just badass.


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Mark Suszko
Re: The Wolf of Wall Street
on Jan 11, 2014 at 12:19:05 am

Which is why I think "Trainspotting" is the most incredible anti-drug PSA ever made... with Requiem For A Dream a close second, and "Traffic" the third.


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Scott Roberts
Re: The Wolf of Wall Street
on Jan 15, 2014 at 7:30:22 pm
Last Edited By Scott Roberts on Jan 15, 2014 at 7:31:07 pm

Check out the Wolf of Wall Street VFX reel. I wasn't expecting Scorsese to use these kinds of techniques on a film like this, but wow, he made good use of effects for this one! I didn't even notice, I just assumed that they were real locations...! Science!



The Wolf of Wall Street VFX Highlights from Brainstorm Digital on Vimeo.



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Mark Suszko
Re: The Wolf of Wall Street
on Mar 26, 2014 at 9:12:08 pm

I finally got around to screening this at home off redbox, and my wife was really repulsed by all the nudity and sex scenes. I didn't know quite what to expect, thinking; okay, this is probably the last of those scenes, and we can get on with the story... only to get another one plopped down again... and AGAIN... just when we were all re-composed and trying to focus. My better half just really couldn't stomach all of it and walked out, only to come back for the denouement scenes. I can see both points of view, that the scenes get gratuitous after a point, versus, Marty has something to say about these characters, their lack of couth, base animal natures, frankly psychotic and psychopathic mental states, and their world and lifestyle and morals and choices by repeatedly hitting you over the head with the sex and spending excesses, as well as the drug abuse. While the characters mention VD from time to time, the film doesn't spend as much time talking about overdoses and crippling side effects of drug abuse. I can't imagine the real Belfort as really being high-functioning if he was blitzed this much all the time.

I was more interested actually by the scenes where the other company traders are letting their id's go crazy in the office, the aggression in particular, and watching how some of them react in infantile rages to the cops and FBI... as in: "how DARE you interrupt my fever dream existence?!?!?! I will SMASH YOU!!!!?!??"


We noticed Earl's brother from "My Name Is Earl" is one of the major partner characters doing this "pro wrestler 'roid rage" kind of behavior.

Marty is showing you what happens when "bros" go bad. The trick is, they weren't "good" to begin with. They're just the other side of the same coin he minted his amoral gangster movies from.


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