The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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There’s been a few controversies surrounding this film in the media since its release, a little over a week ago. Controversies that range in significance and utter bewilderment, regarding the film’s source material, its author, anti-hero, and inspiration Jordan Belfort, to the film itself “The Wolf of Wall Street” being attacked by critics, labeled as shallow drivel glamorizing a life of criminality and abuse. Now, I can’t comment on behalf of the novel, as I’ve never read it (although I plan to), or defend Mr. Belfort as I have never met him, picked his brain, or researched his life (I must say however, it is very intriguing). That being said, there is one thing clouding my brain that I can shed some light on, debate and hopefully resolve. Something that’s distorting my thoughts with its incoherent, simple, overwhelming stupidity. And that is the irrational, baseless notion that “The Wolf of Wall Street” idealizes and absolves an existence free of morality, accountability, and stable relationships.

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I’m perfectly content to dismiss this critical negativity and deem it as idiotic complaints that pander to the obviousness and cosmetic, depthless aspects of a film that uses these highly-superficial, vivid visuals intentionally to mask, bury the truth of these distractions from the emotionally and intelligently inept. I’m fine in doing that and moving on. I form my own opinions, not base them on the unfulfilled experiences and half-witted conclusions of others. Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s fair that those who have yet to see the film or those that are looking for more from “The Wolf of Wall Street” should be bombarded by the opinions of those who only have a disdain towards it. I created this site to voice my thoughts, to interact with others, and to educate and be educated, so that’s exactly what I intend to do…

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This adaption of Jordan Belfort’s miraculous, unbelievable tale is directed by the illustrious Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead character, the aforementioned Jordan Belfort. Containing an excessive amount of nudity, sex, drugs, alcohol, vulgar language, deplorable behaviour, violence, and illegal activity. “The Wolf of Wall Street” is quite the unique cinematic experience, a difficult one to stomach and endure at that. Clocking in at a trying two-hours and fifty-nine minutes, one might argue that it’s near impossible to match the celebratory nature and complete disregard for compassion and equality with vulnerability, depression, and regret for the film’s entirety. To that I say this… After roughly the thirty-minute mark, there wasn’t a moment that went by in which I didn’t ponder the stability, endurance, and humanity of our protagonist that was on display. “What about the first half-hour, you ask?” Well, it’s very simple, our lead was a decent human being for that duration.

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One might look at what he does, listen to what he says and brand his actions and reactions as gutless, inhumane, selfish, and heartless…While this is undeniably true, the way in which it’s portrayed, you know, how the light shines upon it has beencompletely misconstrued. Through every abhorrent movement and despicable word of DiCaprio’s Belfort, there is this nagging, disheartening hint of encompassing sadness and loneliness that radiates through the brash chaos. This is not a happy man, and anyone who arrives at any conclusion that contradicts this, his overall demeanour, has misunderstood.

Listen, it’s totally reasonable to connect Belfort’s outward appearance and emotional surface with happiness, a man who is pleased with himself and the choices he’s made. Hell, even the film’s ending seemingly coincides with this ideal. Conversely however, I implore you to see that there is nothing content about this man. He has lost his family, his privacy, his decency, and himself. DiCaprio’s Belfort has been misconstructed from the get go and every drunken stupor, drug-induced numbness, and orgy coma is an attempt to distract…draw his glazed eyes away from his creeping fears that became a reality all too soon. In the end, like us, he is alone, no matter how high he lived each moment. There will be a time after the present, everything becomes the past. DiCaprio’s Belfort has mistaken living for life and love. I don’t believe for one second that, apart from the time he spent with his lover and children, he was happy.

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Well, that’s enough dissection of this taut character study, on to the technical aspects! Directed by the aforementioned Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a welcomed return to criminal-empire filmmaking for the talented vet. Depicting the life of Jordan Belfort, a kind-hearted family man who gets caught up in the world of Wall Street. Earning a job at a successful firm and passing the Series 7, Belfort is informed by his then boss to adopt a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and sexual release to remain atop of the game. Then, having lost his stable job due to Black Monday, Belfort soon starts his own firm, hiring his friends and selling flimsy stocks. Soon, the company is a multi-billion dollar success, with a long list of criminal offences, laundering, fraud, and tampering being a few. Funding lavish parties for his staff, consisting of drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, and obscure events, things begin to spiral out of control. Having divorced his wife, remarried, and becoming a father, Belfort soon begins to crumble under everything.

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It may be misogynistic, abusive, excessive, vulgar, and dirty, but there’s no denying that “The Wolf of Wall Street” is the most entertaining film to come around in a good, long while. Scorsese captures the world of Belfort’s Wall Street in his usual, immaculate form. Feeling like a throwback to Marty’s “Goodfellas,” his use of entrancing visuals, unfathomable character depth, and intoxicating music allows him to achieve feats that no other film has this year. Martin embraces the violent language, sexuality, and craziness of his film’s premise superlatively. It’s not long until you’ve completely forgotten the fictitious feel of everything and simply become another stockbroker at Stratton Oakmont. Very rarely does one notice the handiwork of a director, but with “The Wolf of Wall Street,” it’s impossible not to marvel at Scorsese’s impeccable form. In all fairness, Martin hasn’t been this good since “The Departed” in 2006.

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I’ve mentioned in great depth the brilliance of Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street” earlier, clamouring over his deliciously heartbreaking and charismatic Jordan Belfort. However, there is more character perfection here besides Leo’s larger-than-life portrayal. Matthew McConaughey, Jonah hill, Margot Robbie, Joe Bernthal, Kyle Chandler, and Jean Dujardin also star in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and their contributions cannot be overlooked. But before we move onto them, I have one final thing to say about Leonardo. This is the year he finally earns that Oscar, or at least, he damn well better. I mean, this guy has been passed over too many times. Is this the performance of his career? Well, that’s up for debate. That being said, is his take on Jordan Belfort the best performance of the year? Hands down! Open the “best actor” envelope blindfolded, because this award is all but official.

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Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Matthew McConaughey won’t be winning any awards or nominations for his performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Besides, with “Mud” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” he’s got more than enough material to earn a ton of accolades this award season. That being said, McConaughey continues his ascent to the top with another memorable, hilarious, potent performance here. Who can forget him beating his chest in the middle of a restaurant, making weird noises, and talking about sex, drugs, alcohol, and money? If Jonah Hill should be nominated for “best supporting actor” because of his character in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” you won’t here me complaining. He’s awkward, both personality and appearance wise, down-right hilarious, and dramatically effective as always. Might not be as worthy as his “Moneyball” performance, but it’s certainly one of the best this year.

Kyle Chandler never seems to get the recognition he deserves and it’s starting to really tick me off. Countless films this man has appeared in and has given tremendous performances in each of them. At least Scorsese took notice of this man’s talent and gave him a fairly significant role. Jean Dujardin, who you’ll know as the Oscar-winning actor for his performance in “The Artist,” is used sparsely, but uses each moment to excruciating effectiveness. Whether it’s his invincible mindset or untouchable attitude, Dujardin will make you laugh while you simultaneously beg those around to let you punch him in the face. Jon Bernthal, or Shane from “The Walking Dead,” continues to make a career for himself post zombie apocalypse. His appearance, personality, demeanour, and narcissism will leave you gasping for breaths between laughs.

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Lastly, my favourite female performer of 2013, up-and-comer Margot Robbie. She’s got the “supporting actress” award all wrapped up in my books. I would like to inform her to start clearing off shelf space or at least get someone, perhaps myself, to build her a case for it. She’s sexy, poignant, ruthless, funny, and seductive as Leo’s ambitious, take-no-shit trophy wife. There has not been a better performance by a female this year. I know that in reality she’ll be lucky to receive a nomination at the very least, but in all honesty, there’s no denying her charm, talent, and beauty here.

Well, here we are, 2013 is now officially over. So I thought it fitting to present you with my favourite film of the year, so here it is. “The Wolf of Wall Street” takes the cake for me and I’m sure it’ll win a few of you over as well.

The Wolf of Wall Street: 10 out of 10.

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About Joseph@thecinemamonster

Aspiring writer who absolutely adores film and television. thecinemamonster.com

Posted on January 8, 2014, in Comedy and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.

  1. Victor De Leon

    Fantastic essay, Joseph and I applaud you for taking a stand for a Marty film that looks (I have yet to watch it) like an amazing rise and fall film. The best films that Marty makes.

    Scorcese is no stranger to controversy and disdain and I think for the most part it is all pretty much misguided and misunderstood. The excesses in his films are what makes them the high art that they are. We, the viewer are given a visual message to receive, and then we must process it. That is where the fun really lies, in watching his films. Like yourself, in this review.

    Sometimes, these “pseudo” critics just like to hear themselves talk negatively about films in order to sound important. I dislike knee jerk reactions to Marty’s films. It’s guys like you (and Brian, who reviewed this movie for me) that are brave enough to say “Ok, back up and let’s really look into what makes this movie work” instead of just being superficially dour about it and spouting it all over the place.

    Kudos! Keep the great reviews, coming. I am so stoked for this movie, now!

    • Thanks so much, Vic! I’m very humbled :). It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity, but once you step back and take this spectacle as the brilliant, cautionary tale it is, there’s so much to marvel at. I’m heading over to read your review as soon as I can :). Thanks so much, again!

      • Victor De Leon

        Anytime Joseph!

        The review was written by my friend, Brian. It’s a short but sweet piece. The way he likes them. Hope you enjoy it.

        Once again, great review!

  2. Great review!

    I basically agree. This is a fantastic movie and the performances are excellent.

    I even agree that Scorsese judges Belfort pretty harshly. I do think he glosses over the horribly crippling effects crimes like Belfort’s have on other people, but the character is not hero-fied at all. Either is his lifestyle.

    • Thanks you! Completely agree, Belfort is in no way built up as a role-model here. I don’t feel Scorsese skimmed over the ripple effect of his actions, but to each their own :).

      • 🙂

        I certainly don’t think it a significant flaw (I still give this an A and currently have it as my fourth best film of the year), but as much as Scorcese judges Belfort, the excesses of wealth and the stratified financial system that allows for such disparity, I don’t remember him portraying the crippling effects of financial crime, for the many people victimized by it. Did you see a place where such effects are portrayed?

      • I fully understand what you’re driving at. I would have to say, as for the crippling effects of Belfort’s criminal and financial negligence, while not displayed in a lewd manner, such as the rest of the film is, Scorsese certainly alludes to these actions through the destruction and inclusion of multiple families and friendships, and his friends families as well. It might be significantly subtle, but I felt it was present. That’s just my opinion though :).

      • Alright. Now I understand. And that’s fair.

        Maybe it was just a touch too subtle for my tastes. No matter what, though, it is a terrific film. 🙂

  3. 10 out of 10 – YOWZA.

    I’ll give this a go when it comes around on VOD : )

  4. Good review Joseph. It’s a fun, wacky, wild and entertaining ride that never slows up once during its three-hour run-time. That may ask a lot of viewers to stick by and keep themselves entertained with what’s going on, but whenever Scorsese is on his A-game, there’s nobody better.

    • Thanks so much Dan! Means a lot :). I thoroughly agree with you there. Scorsese is at the top of the list when he’s at his best. The three-hour runtime might be a little trying for some, but when it’s this much fun, I feel it quite necessary.

  5. Great review! Cannot wait to see this one. It opens in 2 days here!

  6. Nice review. I was a big fan of The Wolf of Wall Street as well. I had a few issues (the length could have used trimming, while not boring I think if there were greater time for the production the film could have been a bit smoother), but it’s among my top 5 of 2013.

  7. This movie was insane! For a three hour movie, I can easily say that I was entertained the whole way through. Every single minute had my full attention. I will say that I was surprised at how little screen time McConaughey clocked, and I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did. The scene where he comes out of the house all messed up on ludes and the cops ask him if he’s sure he didn’t drive… oh man, I howled at that part. I will say, I loved Jonah Hill in this movie too. I hope he keeps doing dramatic roles.

    • Three-hours and I wasn’t bored at all either! Just a phenomenonal flick through and through. I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did, but I’m so happy with the way the film turned out. I was pretty pissed about the screen time for McConaughey as well, but he made excellent use of it. Jonah Hill is perfect, I’m sure he’ll grab a few nominations come award season. The lude seen is ridiculous, just too damm funny. Thanks for reading :).

  8. I have to agree good sir. This movie was damn well perfect. I think the fact that many people are being ‘misled’ by the film’s outright misogynistic, drug-abusing and illegal/over-the-top-partying themes speaks to how good Scorsese directed his top-notch cast here. I personally had a blast with this film, and it was possibly my favorite experience of the year. (It battled with Ron Howard’s Rush).

    Can’t wait to get into another theater and see this again. 😀 😀 😀

    • So happy to hear you agree! Completely agreee with everything you said. It’s a pity that people are being mislead by those who deem this brilliant film superficial and empty. I really need to watch Wolf again :).

      I haven’t seen Rush, but I’m thinking I should. Any good?

      • Personally I had it in my favorite films list of 2013, at #1. I thought it was spectacular. It is a racing film and I realize there’s no real, realistic way it’s going to impress Oscar that much. . .but if you find yourself a fan of Ron HOward films, this is one =of his best. 🙂

      • I can watch the occasional Howard film ;). I’m seeing so much praise for Rush, I think it’s time I finally sit down and watch it!

      • Yes, i think it is! 😀

  9. Wow, big praise there buddy. This doesn’t come out over here for a week or so, but I’m itching to see it. Especially after your glowing review!

  10. A top notch review here man. I cannot wait to see is, it sounds too entertaining to miss.

  11. Top marks you say, Joseph? Nice one, man. I’m really looking forward to this and your excellent review only increases my anticipation for it. Great work here!

  12. JOSEPH! This is an AWESOME review! I am itching to go see this! Releases today, maybe I am fortunate enough to go this weekend!

    I absolutely loved your write up, again, such a way with words!

  1. Pingback: My Top 10 Films of 2013: | The Cinema Monster

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