Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

A three-hour long spectacle of gratuitous debauchery, of people & their unrestrained pursuit to satisfy their id, of characters long blinded by greed that they forgot how to be real human beings, and of shallow characterizations & plot - or the lack of it.

This could have given you a sour taste in your mouth & a giant hangover if it wasn't for Scorsese's unrestrained playfulness & DiCaprio's psychotic charm.

Directed by:  Martin Scorsese (The Aviator, Raging Bull)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
Screenplay by:  Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire)
Based on Jordan Belfort's The Wolf of Wall Street
Cinematography by:  Rodrigo Prieto (8 Mile, Brokeback Mountain)
Editing by: Thelma Schoonmaker (worked with Scorcese for over 40 years)
Running Time:  179 mins
Budget:  $100 million
Box Office: over $222 million

It's funny how you read on movie boards that The Wolf of Wall Street is one of the funniest comedies/best movies/"insert your own hyperbole" of 2013, and see on the next page that it's so goddamn awful that people have walked out of the theaters. And the same people insisting how juvenile or stupid others are for liking this movie. I say, to each his own - but let me share my thoughts regarding some of the reasons people didn't like this film.

Non-existent character development. The characters are so unlikeable from start to finish, with little (or no) character development - yes that's true. But this is a movie about Belfort, if there's no character development in his story then it's because there wasn't any. I'm all for that one aspect in any movie or story, but sometimes, character development isn't always necessary. 

Bad people didn't get punished enough. Read the newspapers or just look around you. Bad people don't always get punished enough. Sometimes, not punished at all. I'm not saying that's okay, but it happens in real life. 

Not every movie needs to be moral or sending a clear message - if you want those kind of movies, then good for you, but don't dismiss a film just because it didn't gratify your moral standards.

It's misogynistic. I'm a woman and I wasn't offended by it. I see more misogynism in real life on a day-to-day basis, and it depends on women how to act or react to it. This is a comedy about a bunch of pricks - what else do you expect?

It glorifies debauchery. Sex, drugs, booze, & profanity - it's like a tsunami of debauchery crashing all over you and dousing your morality. I haven't seen all of Scorsese's movies, but this is probably one of his most unrestrained film (or any 2013 movies for that matter). The showcasing of nudity & sex is bordering on soft porn; the use of profanity makes The Osbournes look like a children's show (the word "f*ck" was used 569 times - the highest number used in a narrative film. - Wikipedia); and the appalling drug/alcohol abuse shown in almost every scene is enough to actually give me an overdose.  But yes, I agree that this is a movie about debauchery, and nothing else. But in my opinion, more than glorifying it, TWoWS mocks the decadent lifestyle of the wealthy (and greedy) 1%. The obscene amount of hedonism shown is appalling, yes, and could have been lessened in my opinion, but it just shows/tells how Belfort lived that lifestyle and Scorsese finally took the opportunity to pursue his dream of making a movie with over-the-top sex & whatnot - it's a perfect partnership. Also, when I say unrestrained, I also was speaking of techniques. Scorsese played with his camera works and editing. I loved it.

I'm not saying these arguments aren't valid, but this is an adult film and if you can't handle its content, there are a lot of other films out there for you. I just hate it when people say "you'll enjoy this film if you're a teenager who loves films like The Hangover, but will be utterly bored and indignant if you're an adult." Seriously? Unbunch your panties and stop generalizing. Just because you didn't appreciate a movie, it doesn't mean it's bad, or people who liked it are stupid. 

The Good Stuff

Matthew McConaughey. Good thing he was only onscreen for several minutes or he would have stolen the show from DiCaprio. 

Rob Reiner. The only sane person in this story (aside from the feds, and probably Belfort's ex-wife). Reiner was great. I especially love that scene when Belfort was sentenced. The look of sorrow & disappointment in his face was one of the few non-shallow & subtle scenes in this film.

Jean Dujardin. Another scene-stealer. His scenes with DiCaprio were so funny.

Margot Robbie. She surprisingly did well. One of the highlights of this film.

Jonah Hill. I'm just glad to see Hill mature as an actor. He's good and he will be better, especially with him being chummy with DiCaprio & Scorsese.

Leonardo DiCaprio. Please, give this man an Oscar already! Look at his filmography and tell me he doesn't deserve one. Watch this movie and tell me he shouldn't have one. He's a crazy ass motherfather leaning towards the likes of De Niro and Nicholson - I mean, look at this face, hilarious! 

He really needs (and wants) that Oscar!

And I think it's about time!

The Wolf of Wall Street is one of those films that gets polarizing reviews/reactions because it depicts a bunch of vile creatures as they are, females thoroughly objectified, and nudity galore - in an extreme, unapologetic manner. The question is, should all movies have sympathetic characters and a "lesson learned" in the end? 

This is a comedy and it succeeded in making me laugh. Other than that, it's still a comedy behind the screen. Here, we see Scorsese show us just how utterly detestable, despicable, decadent, horrifying, disrespectful, empty, shallow these people really are. Belfort is a con man. His friends are con men with no respect for themselves and the people around them. It's obvious. They are not likeable and it shows us how their actions are bound to ruin their lives (and others). We argue the movie is empty and unsatisfying - but then that's how it really is, that's the life led by Belfort. The audience is torn between loving the movie & hating it - either they sympathize with Belfort or they are outraged with Scorsese's depiction of such vulgarity. 

It's funny. Remember that scene where Belfort is talking  on speakerphone to a guy he's trying to con to give 4000 dollars to a bogus company, and all the while mouthing/miming obscenities and giving him the finger for the whole duration of the call until the poor guy gave in? Scorsese IS Belfort making a movie about these Wall Street people AT THE SAME TIME flipping the bird behind their backs. We complain that Scorsese "wants us to be interested in characters who are dull people to start with, made duller by their delusions of being interesting because they are high". NO. He wants us to see how despicable & inhumane these people are and how destructive that kind of lifestyle is. The over-saturation of depravity on screen is actually Scorsese constantly hammering the fact that yes we see these people acting the way they do, we are appalled, we are disgusted, and yet in real life, do they get punished? TWoWs actually has the balls to show us reality without toning it down, and we complain, righteous indignation and all, because Scorsese didn't punish the main protagonist (antagonist, really). Because obviously, we want the bad guys to get punished in the movies, while we are being complicit or passive in real life. We want the bad guy to reform, to be a sympathetic character, and we applaud. We see a movie like this, we flare up, looking for some sort of redeeming qualities, getting angry for finding none. (I dont. Just so we're clear on where I stand. LOL)

Scorsese had the balls to slap us with the glaring reality that these characters are so horrible and ridiculous and they get away with it. Why sugarcoat it with a simpering resolution in the end, right? Just so we feel good about the bad guy getting what he deserves? Then go on with our lives worshipping drug-addled celebrities who got famous for their sex videos, power-hungry politicians, and Wall Street wolves dominating the world - because they are cool, and we don't punish them in real life - only in the movies. 

It's clear, and yet we are still confused. We still don't know how to accept or regard this movie. That's the real comedy.

Or maybe I'm wrong. That's another possibility. LOL. The point is, 

Belfort is whistling his way out of the bank counting the money he earned by telling us how big of a douchebag he is, while we sit in front of our computers bickering how absolutely shallow this movie is without any redeeming qualities or how funny it is - but in the end, it's all a moot point. 

So who's been conned now?

You got that right.

Us, the audience.

My Rating: 4.5/5 - Like its main character, this movie is shallow, over-the-top, thin on plot & characterizations. And yet, it's absolutely entertaining because of its engaging narrative and performances.

YOUR POINT OF VIEW: What are the chances of Leo winning this year?

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  1. I would love to post a comment !!! You are a talented writer, period!!.. It seems you have such a unique way of saying just the right ammt of a sauteed mix of words, that are appetizing to ones palate , leaving a very satisfying taste with your entree shared of class and candidness.. I applaud you for your talent and for sharing it with all of us here.. A well done review indeed, need I say more...Unbelievable job here, demonstrating just how a review should be written to the public.

    1. thank you Tabby for that very delicious comment!! =D

    2. Everything in this film was believable.. I loved the story, the characters, they fit the mold of the meaning of the films message.The way you described the film was spot on, The only parts I really didnt like was the cheating on wives and it being so disregarded as normal behavior.. lol But i loved this film.. It showed us EXACTLY as it was and I for one like to see REAL in a film.. Hats off to this one, one of the best films made in some time.. Leo is a great actor.. Very natural..

    3. Also Scorsese for handling it so well. If done by a less talented director, this would have come off as a cheap exploitation movie. I love Leo-Scorsese :)

  2. Dinner is served ! lol Yw :) lol

  3. What an interesting, fun to read and honest writing style :) really enjoyed reading that. I will be subscribing!

  4. Wow, that's certainly a different take on this movie. I only hear the heaps of praises it receives. I have yet to see the movie. This review made me laugh though. Very funny, witty and informative indeed. Keep up the good writing!

    1. You should watch it just to see Leo in one of his better performances ^_^ Thank you for reading my review!! =D

  5. I like the way you review movies. A very unique style. You're right on Wolf of Wall Street. It's over the top but one heck of a ride. I saw it for a second time. The first time I laughed by butt off. The second time I was actually moved by it. Don't know why.

  6. thank you Jesse :) I'm curious as to which scenes you were moved/affected? Do you think Leo has a chance to win that award this year? =D

  7. Great blog by the way. And thanks for checking out my blog as well. Anyway, the scene where Leo goes to prison and learns to adapt when he's seen playing tennis. The scene with him and Jonah Hill during the interrogation. Leo speeches were awesome. I know he's a bad guy but he makes you like him because he's so damn charismatic. Oh and I almost forgot, the scene where he's on the boat and gets saved. He sees the plane go down to the tune of Gloria. Awesome scene. Awesome movie. Leo should win the oscar. If not him, then give it to Dern!

  8. Hugo's most offensive thing was that it depicted French people as clumsy. The Wolf of Wall Street's most offensive thing was that Jordan Belfort existed.



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