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In the mid-1990s, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) and the rest of
his associates from brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont became the very
definition of excess and debauchery, their offices a boiler room fueled
by cocaine and greed. High pressure sales tactic and less-than-legal
behind-the-scenes manipulation bred plenty of twenty-something
millionaires, and Belfort built himself an empire at the top of the
heap. His rise and fall is chronicled in The Wolf of Wall Street, based
on the memoir of the same name.
Under most circumstances, the actions of Belfort and his cronies (including Jonah Hill in a howlingly funny turn as Belfort's business partner) would be viewed as disgustingly abhorrent, but Martin Scorsese frames this tale of greed with a comedic lens that allows us to laugh at things we probably shouldn't find humorous. Whether it's a clumsy attempt at fisticuffs between two characters overdosing on Quaaludes, or the categorization of prostitutes using stock market terminology ("blue chip" hookers make you wear a condom and typically accept credit cards), the film is outrageous from start to finish, and rarely falters in its quest to entertain the audience for three hours.
Belfort manages to delude himself and his pals into thinking they can live like this forever, but the audience knows better, and Belfort's eventual comeuppance is hardly surprising. But the path is paved with hilarity, especially in a scene aboard the mogul's luxury yacht, where he surreptitiously offers a pair of FBI agents everything from booze to girls to cold hard cash in exchange for their silence. And let's not forget his punishment for drunkenly piloting a helicopter into the backyard of his estate at 3am, raising the ire of his trophy wife (Margot Robbie).
Scorsese has always managed to elicit astounding performances from his actors, and his fifth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio results in one of the most charismatic, despicable, offensive and captivating characters to ever appear on screen. As financial bad boy Belfort, DiCaprio swaggers from scene to scene ingesting eye-popping amounts of narcotics, groping and fondling nearly every female within reach, and spouting more profanity in three hours than an entire season of The Sopranos. Belfort is the kind of person that any sane person would detest in real life, but thanks to Scorses and DiCaprio, we can't take our eyes off him.
-- Brent Hankins, www.nerdrep.com
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is NOT rated "R" but rather "NC-17" if not "X" rated. I got
tired and almost fell asleep a some parts. About half of the movie is
nothing more then them drinking, partying, and doing drugs. Literally.
Also a bunch of pornography. It's like a college gone crazy for half of
the movie (you see like 40+ boobies, a bunch of sex scenes, and a few
shorts glimpse of a penis AND vagina)I got so excessive everyone I went
with debated on leaving...
The humor is not bad and there is a decent amount of it throughout the movie. (7/10) The acting, mainly Leonardo, was fantastic! (9.5/10) The story is a bit shallow. Basically a bunch of people lying, cheating, stealing, and running/escaping on Wall Street and making a lot of "dirty" illegal money. Then talking talk and talking bad about other people who are honest but make less. The movie portrays a picture that money is the most important thing and it is what brings you happiness very well. (2/10) Near the end it shows that being controlled by money is very bad, but it wasn't portrayed as well as it did trying to argue for money bringing happiness. It shows a bunch of "rich" folks who have nothing but money thinking they're above everyone else. No health, no relationships, no integrity, no manners, no respect, no honesty, no time, nothing but money and the animalistic drive to get more and destroy everything in the way.
As a movie it makes the world a depressing place. Overall the main thing I like about the movie is Leonardo Dicaprio. Props to him for continuing to be an awesome actor. The movie content itself was subpar.
Martin Scorsese has done it again. His newest and most refreshing
effort he's contributed to the world of cinema in years, The Wolf of
Wall Street is a roaring thrill ride that is both absolutely hilarious
and meticulously constructed. It also presents Academy Award nominee
Leonardo DiCaprio in possibly his finest acting performance of his
career. At one-minute shy of three hours, I was both engaged and
hypnotized nearly the entire duration. A comedic epic that studies the
behavior and cultures of a time in America, feels like the uncovering
of a time capsule that was buried and dug up to give insight into our
current financial crisis. Much more than just laughs, it turns on the
dramatic elements early enough in the film to warrant considerable
reactions about the choices of our key characters. Expertly paced with
intelligent moral questions presented, The Wolf of Wall Street is one
of the best films of the year.
Telling the story of Jordan Belfort, a young Wall Street broker that gets involved in drugs, money, and even more drugs during the 80's and 90's. In his tenure trading (and stealing), Jordan marries, divorces, does drugs, marries again, does even more drugs, makes solid friendships, and believe it or not, does a lot more drugs. Watching the destruction of Jordan acted as a documentarian's insight that felt like I was watching "Intervention" without the family that cares. The Wolf of Wall Street is a black comedy, giving hints of drama. Natural comparisons will fly to Oliver Stone's Wall Street which is accurate but you can see subtle hints of films like Trading Places, Glengarry Glen Ross, and even American Psycho. That's a testament to Scorsese's outstanding direction and Terence Winter's masterful screenplay. Scorsese keeps Wolf life-size, sprinkled with characters that are both geniuses and morons, but functioning morons. They're like the frat pack group that sat in a corner on my college campus, being loud and obnoxious, and made terrible life choices that they still aren't aware of until this day. Scorsese puts together an all-star cast to inhabit these beings that includes DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bernathal, and Kyle Chandler. All of which seem to be having the time of their lives.
A lot of the credit of the film's overall success has to be awarded to Leonardo DiCaprio. I've never seen him truly "go for it" in a way that he exhibits as Jordan Belfort. In his breaking of the fourth wall, to his long but completely engaging monologues about life, money, and greed, it's the most assured and compelling work by the actor to date. When DiCaprio unleashed his talents in the mid-90's in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and later stole the hearts of tween girls everywhere in Titanic, who knew this is the role he'd been gearing up to play. This is the role of his career and something that the Academy Awards should look to for his long overdue recognition. It's a charming and adventurous turn that presents a conundrum to the audience as we find ourselves both enamored and loathing the pure essence of Jordan. A sequence of DiCaprio crawling on the floor will probably be the scene of the year. This is DiCaprio's crowning achievement.
As the magnetic and cheesy-minded right-hand man, Jonah Hill's performance as Donnie Azoff is another great turn for the 30-year-old actor. He's allowed to explore some of his comedic ticks and beats that he may not have ever had the opportunity to explore in films like Superbad or 21 Jump Street. In Wolf, he relies on his own instincts, and his chemistry with DiCaprio, which has helped him before for his Oscar-nominated work in Moneyball opposite Brad Pitt. Matthew McConaughey, is one scene shy of winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. While his work in Dallas Buyers Club will bring him the acclaim and recognition that he deserves, The Wolf of Wall Street is a prime example of what he should be doing when he's not working or seeking out the strong, independent features that are geared for awards recognition. Stealing every frame and focus from DiCaprio in his ten minute screen time, McConaughey utilizes all his charm and spunk as Mark Hanna, the mentor to young Jordan as he started out.
Like any great Scorsese film, the women are in full-force and given the opportunity to shine like the others. Cristin Millotti, a toned down and tragic version of Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny, is sensational in her brief appearances on screen. Beautiful and sympathetic, she offers much needed serious and dramatic elements to Jordan's outrageous antics. In the end, a star is born in the gorgeous and vivacious Margot Robbie as Naomi Lapaglia, Jordan's second wife. Whoever was going to be cast as Naomi, had to be an actress of considerable talent and had the ability to really be the sexy kitten but still warrant an emotional reaction from the audience when called upon. Margot Robbie was the perfect choice and she'll need to owe Scorsese royalties for years to come with the roles she'll be offered following this. Robbie is pure magic and is everything she's required to be. She's the more elusive, compelling, and more thought out version of Scarlett Johansson's character in Don Jon.
I loved every second of The Wolf of Wall Street. Terence Winter's script is a natural and well-oiled machine that produces the words of a demigod. You couldn't make these things up. Thelma Schoonmaker is the utmost professional and continues to shine film after film. You won't find another dedicated and glossed editing work this year. The other supporting actors do sensational work especially Kyle Chandler, who has a very well-constructed exchange on a boat with DiCaprio, has us asking more and more, why is this guy not helming his own films on a consistent basis yet?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've always thought that there must be a very good reason for a movie
to last 3 hours. Wolf of wall street does last 3 hours but there no
shadow of a good reason for it. It could have lasted 1 hour and it
would have been already too long.
It is difficult to summarize all the things I didn't like but let's try:
1- Characters development is simply not existent. There is no depth, just one-dimension flat characters that only do drugs, sex, and money. I am not against showing drugs or sex or money in a movie, if it helps the plot. But in this case, it didn't. It was 2 hours of absolute useless display of all the possible debaucheries on earth, without them helping in building up the characters. 2- If a guy manages to build up an empire based on a fraud, I'd like to see what happens to his victims too, and, sorry if I am not a master of Wall street, but I'd like to have 5 minutes of the movie spent in explaining what was this fraud about. 3- If the guy, once again, not only builds his own empire, but also drags other people in that, I suppose he must have some smartness, or intelligence, or be a master manipulator.. whatever it is, it cannot be just (once again) cocaine and prostitute. If they wanted to depict the guys as villains, they failed miserably. 4- the only relatively interesting part (the trial etc) is cut to 30-45 minutes max. Once again, I supposed it could have been a good chance to show some introspection of the characters, some development..something! But no, once again, nothing. We only notice that now the beer is not alcoholic. So sad. 5-Finally, DiCaprio performance: he did his job, probably, but he was alway over the top (and not in a good sense). Too much of everything, to the point that he fell into being ridiculous more than believable.
Ah, one last note. Wall Street? Where is it in all the story? I expected to see some connections to WS in fact, like what was going on in the meantime but there is - sorry to repeat myself- basically nothing about it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Even though Jordan Belfort is a convicted con man, Scorsese & DiCaprio
were apparently too dense to realize that his book was yet another of
his scams. They leapt on Belfort's book like pigs on a pile of slop and
thought everyone would be just as enamored as they were with the
alleged life story of a sociopathic, sleazeball swindler. One example
of how they got conned: In real life, Belfort never warned his cohorts
that he was wearing a wire! In reality, he was a cry-baby snitch who
immediately agreed to testify against his co-conspirators, never giving
any of them a word of warning.
It's rather amusing to watch Scorsese & DiCaprio as they try to explain that this movie isn't a glorification of Belfort's swindling & debauchery. C'mom, guys, 'fess up, all three hours of the movie is a celebration of it! You wasted $100 million to make an homage to a drug- addicted, misogynistic low-life who swindled people out of their hard- earned money! Proud of yourselves?
Here's the "Spoiler Alert": You are being conned if you go to this movie. But go ahead and give your hard-earned money to this convicted swindler and the "Hollywood sophisticates" who think his pathetically sad life is worth being turned into a movie. Just know that Belfort is laughing all the way to the bank, and you are his latest victim.
"The Wolf of Wall Street" paints a very decadent picture of the
financial sector and its corrupted denizens, perverted by money and
greed. A multitude of insatiable degenerates are depicted participating
in an unending array of grand parties, laced with copious drugs,
alcohol, and prostitutes, splashed across the screen in unabashed
opulence. And these are the good guys. Similar to the way director
Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas" glorifies the lifestyle of mafia
gangsters, "The Wolf of Wall Street" attempts to create an enticement
to the immoral habits of stockbrokers wallowing in hedonism.
But in this world of white-collar crime, where the victims are faceless and there are no real villains, no threat of death or physical harm exists. Conflict and, most surprisingly, consequences, are also absent. There isn't even any character progression. Everyone starts as a money-grubbing scoundrel and ends the same way, despite encountering several opportunities to learn from their unscrupulous practices. Even if that's more magnetic, the evident drought of suspense or redemption leaves the audience with 180 minutes of darkly comedic events featuring nothing but sex and substance abuse. It's never unstimulating, but it's also not much of a story.
Aspiring to be a successful stockbroker, fiercely ambitious Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) interns at an investment firm and, under the guidance of zealous salesman Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey), learns the tactics of persuasion. When the "Black Monday" stock market crash of 1987 finds Belfort unemployed, he discovers the highly profitable world of penny stocks (with their unregulated attributes) and quickly begins planning the birth of his own empire. Recruiting several of his friends, including drug dealers and his neighbor Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), Jordan begins training them in the art of selling and soon opens brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont. It's not long before Belfort and his cohorts have amassed excessive monetary assets and begin reveling in the debauchery unlimited funds affords them. But as Stratton Oakmont rises in prominence, it catches the eye of FBI Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler), who launches an investigation into the shady practices of the fiscal giant.
In the lavish, exploitive, overindulgent world of stock market racketeering, Scorsese clearly points out the entertainment value of stimulants, hookers, and unconscionable partying. Sobriety is boring, existence in the real world is unbearable, bacchanalian celebrations must replace simple socializing, workplace corruption results in a slap on the wrist, and money can fix everything except the torturous constraints of marriage. "I want you to deal with your problems by becoming rich," commands Jordan, proceeding to narratively glorify superficiality, materialism, substance abuse, sex addiction, and every other pleasurable vice, with ferocious enthusiasm. He frequently speaks straight to the camera, braggingly unveiling his obscene wealth and expenditures (at one point he's ruffled over not making at least $1 million per day). With a three hour running time, "The Wolf of Wall Street" is 90% eye-popping revelry and 10% routine storytelling.
The unholy exorbitance of nudity, cursing, and snorting cocaine correlates directly to the plentiful comedic scenes. Each one carries on too long, brimming with visual details that make the film earnestly earn its hard R rating. But its excessiveness is also repetitive, dragging out the festivities with titillating particulars over and over again. The entire film is conducted with a snappy, zippy, lighthearted tone (clashing with the obvious crime, again like "Goodfellas"), revealing masturbatory elaboration to be jovial, experiencing mind-altering highs to be frolicsome, officious salesmanship to be a thrilling avenue for scamming faceless fools, and brushing with the FBI and SEC (over IPO dishonesty) to be adventurous. Ludicrous exchanges are delivered straight-faced, with numerous conversations carrying on to laugh-out-loud success.
But the criminal activities are victimless and the justice isn't applied on screen to anyone outside of the antihero lead, making every role a larger-than-life caricature (Jonah Hill is occasionally unrecognizable), the outcome more of a joke than repercussion, and the allure of "get rich quick" schemes not the least bit faded. Meanwhile, the idea of illegal undertakings appearing maddeningly gratifying as long as authorities are eluded is wantonly ennobled perhaps made more appealing than ever before on film. If Scarface learned something from his rise and fall, Belfort most certainly did not.
- The Massie Twins
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's hard to find the words to explain how TRULY AWFUL this film is.
I'll try to do a list:
1) There's no context: They never show the victims of the fraud. We see the sales effort but not the people they're selling to. How can you do a movie about people perpetrating a fraud without showing the fraud & its effects???
2) There's no character development: They all start out as disgusting creeps and they all end up being disgusting creeps.
3) There's not much of a plot: It's 2 and 1/2 hours of debauchery and then 1/2 hour of getting caught. The debauchery part goes on forever and gets boring really fast. Not to mention disturbing & disgusting. Did Scorsese really make this movie just to show all this debauchery? What's the point of showing 2 and 1/2 hours of it? We get the point that they are gross lunatics pretty fast. Why keep going with seemingly endless variations of it? There is no point to it.
So, when all is said & done, this is basically a movie about debauchery. It should have been called "Satyrs of Long Island" instead of "Wolves of Wall Street" because these turkeys operated from LI and there's practically nothing in the movie about actual Wall Street firms.
The last few Scorsese pics left me a little disappointed. I had begun to think Marty had become a 'gun for hire' and that his brilliance may have been spent (his earlier works were some of the best movies ever made). I attended a screening of The Wolf of Wall Street this evening, and was expecting to be unimpressed. I am happy to say I was completely blown away. This pic is Marty at his best. I laughed, I cringed, I related (with fond memories as well as a bit of guilt) and I TOTALLY believed every unbelievable moment. A good book, a great screenplay and a delightful cast were formed and molded into what I believe should get Scorsese a best director Oscar, and likely a Best Picture Award for the movie. Leo DiCaprio has grown into a versatile actor and his creation of this super hero dirtbag's roller coaster ride in this crazy (true) story is really honest and delightfully entertaining. Jonah Hill pulled out all the stops too and this is definitely his best work. Thank you Mr. Scorsese for delivering the goods so brilliantly!
This film arrived in the UK with awards and Oscar nominations all
around it, adding an expectation which it really didn't need adding
since even without any of that it is ultimately a Scorsese film with a
big name cast. It also arrives with some other stuff because the film
has been criticized for near glamorization of the excesses that Belfort
was able to experience with his ill-gotten funds and, to be honest, it
is an impression that isn't helped when you consider that this film was
put forward to the Golden Globes in the Musical/Comedy section. Now I
am sure that was a political move by the studio, but it does say
something about the film because indeed for most of it we have stuff so
unbelievable and so excessive that it is hard not to laugh at it. It is
hard not to enjoy it.
And this is a problem, because the first 2 hours and a bit of this film is really engaging and enchanting in how much of a rush it gives you, how enticing it is and just how much vibrant energy it all has. The viewer is swept along and I guess to a point this is the film doing its job well because not only are we being told a story but we are first hand seeing how easy it is to get caught up in the grab for success, for money, for status. In this regard the film works really well because throughout the film I really was glad to be part of it and wanted it for myself; I don't think the film goes out of its way to glamorize this excess and this life, but for sure it doesn't do much to balance it and this really is my problem with the film.
The structure, subjects and delivery of this film is so inherently similar to Goodfellas that it is hard not to mention it. If you remember the opening of Goodfellas you'll remember that it opens with a memorably violent scene where an near-dead man in the back of a car is stabbed by Hill and his colleagues in a scene that is oppressive and violent but yet ends with the narration telling us "as far back as I can remember I wanted to be a gangster" and snaps to credits under a big track from Tony Bennett. This scene is important because it works as a microcosm of the whole film the appeal but also the cost, all in one place. Wolf of Wall Street never has any of that and it hurts it. I suspect the message of the film is that our financial systems are screwed and that ultimately the rich will never be in the same world as the average person, because this is what I took from the rather sobering final scenes. However if this is the point it is trying to make then it really hurts itself with the rest of the film seeming to say "so why not get on board". I know this is not the case but the lack of a "point" or an agenda it the film means that it naturally fills it with its own, which is a weird feeling.
But then again I guess it is a comedy. So the infamous Quaalude scene is not horrific but rather hilarious, the scenes of excess and of criminality are not equally appealing and repulsive they are almost totally appealing, we hardly get the other side or get to see a victim here, and a few seconds on the subway with the FBI agent really does nothing but yet again make the suggestion that "it's all broken so why not at least get rich yourself". Getting away from this, it is a well made film. Scorsese makes this award season's second film to owe a massive debt to Goodfellas (American Hustle being the other) and he directs the film with energy; music is used well as one would expect and the editing makes the film pop. DiCaprio is great in the lead OK he doesn't find the heart of the character, but the film doesn't ask him to. Instead he is charismatic and energetic, drawing the viewer in and giving the film its energy. The supporting cast is deep with names and familiar faces and it is a statement about how well the film holds the viewer, because it isn't distracting no matter how many famous faces or supporting character from TV appear (although I did notice that this and American Hustle had lots of faces from HBO's Boardwalk Empire). Jonah Hill is over the top in a way that works, although I am surprised to see him getting an Oscar nomination for it in such a crowded year.
Wolf of Wall Street has had a lot of praise and this will continue as the Oscars approach and are awarded. Personally I enjoyed the film as a funny true story delivered with energy and excess but in many ways it is not Goodfellas and the most important of these is that the film lacks a moral core to itself, to its characters and to its message. I don't mind the "it's all screwed so who cares" message that it ultimately seems to give, but I didn't feel comfortable with how wide a smile it had on its face while it was delivering it.
"The Wolf of Wall Street" is infectiously entertaining. It is probably
the funniest movie I have seen all year with witty dialogue, over the
top characters, and filled with energy that bleeds off the screen.
Between all the fun however, there is also a story about addiction and
how it can cause a downward spiral in your life whether it be drugs,
money, or power.
Acclaimed director Martin Scorsese does a wonderful job keeping this movie at a high at all times. Never once does this movie lose it's energy or sense of humor much like the drug induced characters. There are a lot of quick cuts and edits to keep the movie feeling as If you are on drugs as well as playing high energy music in some of the more serious situations.
The cast brings their "A" game. The stand out is obviously Leonardo DiCaprio, who pretty much owns and excels any scene he is in. This film really showcases his diverse range.
Overall "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a full on adrenaline ride that never loses momentum. It's directed with a lot of flair and energy and has an incredibly well written script that gives it depth and a ton of laughs. The cast is fantastic and DiCaprio gives his best and most fun filled performance to date. I really enjoyed this movie and think it's the funniest movie of the year 4.5/5
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