The Wolf of Wall Street [Celluloid Hero]
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
I am a huge Martin Scorsese fan. He’s a director whose work I actually anticipate when I start to hear rumors about an upcoming project. He is also known as a guy who makes a certain connection with an actor and develops a close working relationship, and this movie marks the fifth time he has collaborated with Leonardo DiCaprio.
DiCaprio plays real-life Wall Street investment banker Jordan Belfort. He immediately loses this job due to Black Monday, and ends up in a strip mall selling penny stocks. He takes his knowledge and attitude that came from the big time stock market and infuses it into the lower-class crowd, with incredible results. The money starts rolling in, and it is followed by women and booze and drugs and luxury.
The movie received five Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor for DiCaprio, and Best Supporting Actor for Jonah Hill. Not to be too harsh, but I agree with the fact that it won none of them. I can’t really speak for an adapted screenplay, but I don’t think it was good enough to really win any of those others. Scorsese is always a great director, but nothing about this particularly blew me away. DiCaprio is solid as usual, but Hill was still the “chubby punchline”. As far as the Best Picture, I just felt like I’d seen this story before. The lead character has humble beginnings to establish some sympathy from the audience, he rises to power, abuses the power, watches it all disappear around him, then tries to start over.
Another aspect I felt hurt the movie became evident when I talked about it with other people. None of us were really sure if it was supposed to be a comedy or not. I laughed a lot, but most of my laughs were at the ridiculousness of a scenario or the excess of some character’s action. They weren’t “jokes” per se, but I still laughed. The question arose, though, about whether it was meant to be funny or serious or what. I think the best example is Matthew McConaughey’s brief supporting role: I found it hilarious, but I don’t think it was intended to be laugh-out-loud funny.
If you’re squeamish when it comes to sex, drugs, and expletives, stay the eff away from this effing movie. At times it felt like literally every other word was an f-bomb, and actually set a record for most uses of that word in a mainstream film (569 times in 180 minutes, or 3.16 times per minute, if you were wondering). Nudity abounds, along with a ton of drugs; many times all three vices combine.
It’s somewhat hard to rate this, because in my eyes almost any Scorsese movie will be better than average; the guy simply does great work with great actors. Still, nothing about this blew me away, it just felt “another Scorsese movie”, which isn’t bad, but could have been better.
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On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, “The Wolf of Wall Street” gets a 7 out of 10.