Movie Review #674
Studio: Red Granite Picture – Sikelia Productions – Appian Way – EMJAG Productions
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
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.
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.
World War Z