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Oscar Review: THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Witney Seibold’s run through the Best Picture nominees arrives here at what he terms the “best film of the Best Picture nominees that doesn’t stand a chance at winning”….

I wish Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street had a fighting chance this year, but it’s really not at the top of anyone’s lists. It’s not a front-runner by any stretch, and, really, that’s a damn shame. The Wolf of Wall Street, the true story of a real-life Wall Street bourgeoisie brat, is an energetically depraved sex-and-drugs orgy of American excess that, at a full three hours, manages to stay compelling and funny throughout. Scorsese continues to prove his mastership of the filmic crafts, but while depicting a gleeful laundry list of extreme human vice: public masturbation, anal drug consumption, flagrant public sexual activity, mountains of cocaine, and a general amoral milieu of hedonistic ultra-wealth that is, at the end of the day, kind of what the American Dream is all about.

Leonardo DiCaprio, now having made five features with Scorsese, gives one of his best performances as the fecklessly prodigal Jordan Belfort, an early-’90s stockbroker whose open disregard of the law and of common human decency only spelled Wall Street success. By dallying around a few legal curves, and bilking hundreds of off-screen blue-collar workers, Belfort managed to build one of the biggest Wall Street empires of his generation, proceeding to live life as if it were one extended party full of a bottomless pit of hookers and blow. He takes just about every drug he can. What made Belfort so casually depraved? A single speech by a mentor (Matthew McConaughey) who explains very simply that trading stocks is not meant to help the client. “If you can both make money, that’s better, right?” Jordan asks innocently. The simple answer: “No!”

Wolf of Wall Street oops

The Wolf of Wall Street is, on its surface level, a bullet-fast dark comedy of such enthusiasm and mock poise, that it’s difficult to resist. You would think that three hours of constant manic, coke-fueled bacchanalia would wear thin after a while, but somehow Scorsese turns this pitch dark slapstick flick into a subtle – and actually very damning – comment on the economy. If the American Dream is all about acquiring wealth and becoming as rich as possible, doesn’t that Dream then logically extend to illegal behavior as well? Isn’t the ultimate allure of extreme wealth the eventual collapse of all rules, laws, and decency, offering you a freedom of pleasure unheard of in the real world, down here with the 99.9%? The Wolf of Wall Street is one of the funniest films I’ve seen with such a dark message.

Because the film is so joyous and energetic, some critics have taken to accusing Scorsese of failing to provide a moral for the story; some say Scorsese advocates the antisocial behavior on display. In response: 1) Only mad psychotics would advocate such behavior; and 2) by not punishing Jordan Belfort on screen, Scorsese is making a dark comment on the sad state of the American economic system. The richest of the rich, he suggests, even when they’re caught for their malfeasance, typically do not serve heavy jail time, never learn any lessons, and are free to continue to amass wealth that they’ll never use for anything constructive, unless you consider hoovering cocaine, smashing Lamborghini sports cars, and boinking prostitutes in front of your friends to be constructive.

Wolf of Wall Street What Me Worry

Because of its hard edge (I’m surprised the film isn’t rated NC-17), The Wolf of Wall Street will likely be entirely ignored by the Academy come Oscar night. Pity, really. At least we have another strong entry in the canon of a master filmmaker who continues to make masterpieces.

Odds to win: 25:1

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5 comments

  • ok directors such as martin,steven,george,and james we all can agree these are the best on the planet they do not make bad movies and thats a fact so with that being said..martin scorsese best: goodfellas easily…but knowing he is one of the few that i mentioned earlier i watched it..Now we all heard days after the bailout reports of bonus,meetings at resorts are a fact so i would have never imagined before seeing this those guys on wall street white nerdy suits..party like a rockstar..that term shouldve been party like workin on wall street..im sure this film is pretty darn acurate..the excess these people have they are billionaires now there is no limit at that level..women drugs anything there is literallly nothing that cant be done or had or even people bought everything has a price so women yes u can and many have been bought so some comments ive read earlier bout women looked at like objects and thats not reality bullshit..those guys proved it in real life..meetings at beautiful resorts days after bailout known facts crazy drug use and elite call girls, giant severanci e packages.minimal jailtime 18months was average so called prisons more like country clubs…Best scorsese to date hands down and leo perfect…i dont think any average american man or women can say they wouldnt have loved that lifestyle..not saying everyone would be drug taking hoe banging maniacs but excess comes along with that lifestyle…disagree ok think about it the term that gets one to that level”billionaire”thats an excessive amount of money…AWSOME MOVIE..goin back to school new profession?broker on wall street ha ha Maybe those wallstreet guys arent so bad after all but jelous of what they had…definitly.look up these houses in the hamptons,yachts,cars,everything about that movie as far as accuracy would say..of course…drug use in the movie little overboard ud be dead in a yr on that pace.But never believe Martin could ever top goodfellas,casino..i believe he did with ease…BRAVO…BRAVO..those of u that said negative things..WATCH DISNEY MOVIES. WHERE EVERYTHING IS NICE AND GOOD…

  • THIS is supposed to be a cautionary tale???? Obviously Marty has yet to repent for his blasphemies committed in the making of “The Last Temptation of Christ.” All I can say is that if this film is about the dangers of drugs then, Planned Parenthood helps women. Neither Marty nor Cecil Richards give a second thought to the exploitation of the underclass. The way midgets were treated in the trailer almost stopped me from seeing this film. Had I listened I would have saved myself from having to listen to a straight two minuets of their straight up dehumanization by the two lead actors. In some films the irony is apparent, here it seams more like the point was a cheap shot at comedy at the expense of those whose predatory nature has eclipsed every last shadow of a doubt that they may ever return from the dark side. Straight up porn, folks. Yes this is NC17, if you don’t like what you see in the first five minuets of the film, walk out, you will skip out on exposing yourself to excessive vulgarity and the dreary denigration DiCaprio, who has been reduced to a porn star. This film is for anyone who can’t hear over the voice in his / her own head, and will not win an oscar for these 2 reasons: A use of voice over that stupifies the entire sensory experience and personifies it into the ego of the lead, dumbing down the rhythm of the film to a long base long of dry thumps-A use of sex that mostly acts as a textbook manual on how to objectify the act into a fantasy of hate and commodity of people as material experiences. You wait and wait and wait for there to be a moment where the sex or the film for that matter has a point, but the disconnect between the audience and Marty Scorsese’s vision stays in DiCaprio’s head, one long voice over monologue after another. It’s more of a porn version docudrama rather than what you would hope for in an entertaining experience… unless, that is of course, you like porn, and I guess, according to the wolf of wall street mentality, who doesn’t. The only lesson I learned from this cautionary tale is to warn others of the vile nature of this film. Sometimes an artist let sex get the better part and the work becomes … well … “art”(porn) and not art.

  • Wolf of Wallstreet is a 3 hour sausage and sexist feast made for teenage and early 20′s frat boys or males who are at that level of immaturity. They deliberately bribed the MPAA to bring the rating down from NC-17 to R so all the 15 year old boys can see the film, glorify it and repeat lines from it. Big whoop that a woman in her 70′s wouldn’t enjoy it. It’s not made for most women regardless of their age nor for mature men. The women in the film are nothing but props and sex objects. If this movie had Michael Bay’s name as the director (same exact movie) no high minded critics would be defending it as though it’s high art. It’s brainless teenage boy entertainment.

  • My question is — is this movie doing anything new? At this point, “white Wall Street conmen experience meteoric rise and disgraceful plummet, as accompanied by prostitutes and drugs; cause us to question our own social values” isn’t new ground to tread. In a year where we had some pretty cool and unusual things happening in mainstream cinema (an animated “princess” movie where the most important relationship was between two sisters, a space thriller whose face was a middle-aged woman, a high-grossing action movie starring a young woman, a sci-fi blockbuster where 2/3 leads were NOT white men, a female buddy-cop movie), this just seems….tired. And honestly, nothing in this review is making me think the movie is going to ask any questions that haven’t been asked a million times, in similar explorations. Pass, sorry.

  • Nope, I wouldn’t recommend the film to anyone. The wolf of wall street is bad. Not because it’s provocative but because it’s disgusting and offensive for no reason. Its misogyny is not an exposure or a critique, it’s a display. The message it pretends to be sending is just an excuse for the provocation that will guarantee some eyeballs, it doesn’t really criticize what it is portraying in any meaningful way nor does it expose how harmful it is to the women surrounding its ahole protagonist, who is the only one that matters and the consequences for him are the only consequences that matter. All that stays with you are the images of women used as objects, like in porn and this guy having a good time until he is not. They simply make sure that the film leaves an impression to boost its oscar chances even if that impression is through meaningless, misogynistic, degrading imagery and language. Bothering to critique or expose the injustice of things must be too much for the dumb audience they assume they have I guess