The Wolf of Wall Street

Movie Review #674

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Studio: Red Granite Picture – Sikelia Productions – Appian Way – EMJAG Productions
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Country: USA
Spoken Languages: English

Directed by Martin Scorsese. Produced by Riza Aziz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joey McFarland, Martin Scorsese, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff. Screenplay by Terence Winter. Based on the book by Jordan Belfort.

Rated R by the MPAA – strong sexual content, graphic nudity, frequent drug material, frequent profanity, infrequent violence. Runs 3 hours. Tirana premiere on December 26, 2013. Wide release in the USA on December 25, 2013.

Featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort. Starring Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, and Kyle Chandler. Also starring Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, Cristin Milioti, Shea Whigham. With credited cameo appearances by Rob Reiner as Max Belfort, Steven Boyer, Danny A. Abeckaser, Tracy Friedman, Matthew Rauch, Michael Izquierdo, Donie Keshawarz, Johnathan Tchaikovsky, Aaron Glaser, Ben Rameaka, Ben Loving, Davram Stiefler, and Zineb Oukach. Also featuring an uncredited cameo appearance by Spike Jonze.

Cinemaniac Reviews four stars

Welcome back to the World of Martin Scorsese. I’m talking about nothing we’ve seen recently. Go back way behind “Hugo”, “Shutter Island”, “The Departed”, “The Aviator”, “Gangs of New York”, “Bringing Out the Dead”, and “Kundun”. We haven’t seen this enthralling side of the director since “Casino” (1995). We’re talking about movies that pull us in and compel us to genuinely sympathize with the deplorable. “The Wolf of Wall Street” presents maybe Scorsese’s most deplorable protagonist yet. This man is addicted to quaaludes, cocaine, sex, and money. In his mind, everything is a party, and the only thing that can crash that party is tragedy. And overall, I’d assume he’s probably recognized what an experience he’s made of his life. That raging bull of a director behind this movie hits us with the exact same stuff. For a while here, everything’s a wild, tremendously fun party. There’s tragedy at the end, but my one encompassing thought is neither “that was fun” nor “that was kinda sad.” Right now, what I’m thinking is, “What a movie that was.”

The protagonist is portrayed perfectly. Leonardo DiCaprio, here, marks his sixth lead performance in a biopic, but forget Jim Carroll, J. Edgar Hoover, and every character in between. DiCaprio’s performance as Jordan Belfort comes out on top without any effort, because this is the antihero he’s been looking to play all along. We’re every bit convinced of this story and its fascinating character. We’re convinced that DiCaprio plays–no, is this average joe who made his way to Wall Street, and to serving 22 months in gaol instead of 20 years, because of two things: his ability to manipulate his words, and his natural cunning son-of-a-bitch personality.

He’s integrated stupendously into the screenplay. This was written by Terence Winter (TV’s Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos), based on the book by Belfort himself. The writer’s a TV alumnus, rarely worked in the movies, never before worked with a director as paramount as Scorsese, and yet he writes it all so freely, so naturally. I don’t care how accurate this story truly is. I just care that I enjoyed it, and that after all three hours (a brand-new record for the director) had flown by right before my eyes, I wanted more of this character. He makes Gordon Gekko seem boring as hell. He takes a job as obviously agonizing as stock brokering and gives it candidly; for a while here, the job actually looks fun.

That’s just the story though. I haven’t even mentioned the style yet. Martin Scorsese’s irresistible techniques lies in one name. Thelma Schoonmaker, editor of every Scorsesean film since “Raging Bull” (1980), who seems to significantly improve with age. I can’t even begin to express how much more fantastic “The Wolf of Wall Street” is with her input. There’s also the soundtrack, which is audio dynamite. Cannonball Adderley’s “Mercy Mercy Mercy” and Foo Fighters’ “Everlong”. A punk rock cover of “Mrs. Robinson” ends the movie. And it seems every lyric matches up. Look around, Mr. Belfort, and all you see are sympathetic eyes.

Here’s to him.

Tomorrow’s Review

World War Z

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10 thoughts on “The Wolf of Wall Street

    • I never knew Scorsese had anything to do with Boardwalk Empire, but that’s most likely why they worked best together. Have you seen the show? I’d like to hear your reaction, being that you are big on both movies and TV. That and The Sopranos have been on my watchlist for at least a year by now…just got into season 3 of Breaking Bad, though, so I can’t move onto anything new for another month at least.

      Anyway, I do agree that it ran on too long, but like you said, that’s a small complaint, since my attention was held the entire time.

      A friend at school tried to tell me that just because she hated the movie, Leonardo DiCaprio was a bad actor and Scorsese a bad director. So on the day the Oscar nominations were announced, I made sure she knew that it was a holiday, being that her two favorite people were nominated. 😉 Just a little anecdote.

      • Boardwalk Empire’s great but The Sopranos for me is just about the greatest thing on television along with The Wire and Breaking Bad. Bad grows even better in its later seasons with the final string of episodes being its best.

        • It’s funny how a decent episode of Breaking Bad can be so noticeable if it’s worse than the previous one. My sister and I were watching Season 3, Episode 5 yesterday (“Mas”), and we both noticed that it wasn’t up to par with the rest of the series. Still, it’s the first letdown the series has brought in some time: we started Season 3 just a few days ago and we’re over halfway through! Whereas it took us forever to get through seasons 1 and 2.

          In a nutshell, yes, you’re so right that it gets better as the series progresses. I’ll be so sad when I’m finished with the saga.

    • I’ve heard a lot of people say that this movie was just too long, most of whom said it could have been cut down. I can agree that it’s overlong, but you just don’t cut down a Scorsese movie.

      It’s great when a movie sets a record for profanity and gets labeled as pornographic, but it still gets smiles all around.

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