Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street - Movie Review

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, Jon Bernthal, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, PJ Byrne, Shea Whigham and Ethan Suplee.
Directed by Martin Scorsese.


The true story of Jordan Belfort, a Wall Street wizard who stole millions of dollars from thousands of people, and he is one of hundreds of others doing the same.  Sure, there are honest people in the financial industry, but there are a lot of dishonest ones too, and those are the ones who make life worse for the 99%.

There's been some criticism of this film that it glorifies Jordan. That's like saying Goodfellas glorifies Henry Hill.  It's a fun ride to watch, but you don't deep down actually want his life. If you do, you're a bad person.

One thing Wolf of Wall Street makes clear - it takes talent to be evil. Jordan may be a raging narcissist, but he's also excellent at selling, and lying, and leading others.  We don't see his victims because he never thinks about them. If he does, it's flippant. At one point he narrates that the way he sees it, it's better that he has the money rather than those middle-class people he's ripping off, because he knows how to spend it. Says the guy who does enough cocaine to power a small city.

It's a three-hour biopic that takes us on the decadent ride of an amoral man and his band of merry swindlers who get rich quick with no conscience. He grew up with one goal - to be rich. Didn't care how, and didn't really have a noble goal of what to do with his wealth either.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives a ferocious performance, maybe a career best for him.  It's his fifth collaboration with Scorsese (Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, and Shutter Island being the other four), and they really seem to have each other's rhythms down.

Did it need to be three hours? I don't think so. The parade of immorality goes on pretty long.  I don't think we really need that many scenes of drugs and hookers, but my understanding is his first cut could have been four hours.  It is darkly funny, like one scene where he's near paralyzed from Quaaludes but tries to drive home anyway.

So yeah, this movie ended and I felt like I'd seen a very well-made ride of a shallow, empty man who had the potential to do some good with his talents, but with no ethics or principles, he just ruined lives to feed his need for greed instead. But I do have that McConaughey chest-thumping song still stuck in my head.

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