Now that I’m done writing about baseball for a while, I’m jumping back on the (Long departed) Oscar review train and reviewing a movie that I saw before the actual ceremony, but that I put off reviewing (Along with Her and Philomena) for some inexplicable reason until now, which is odd, because I happen to have some pretty strong opinions on it. I also have, like six more Oscar reviews coming after this one (Namely the two aforementioned movies, Frozen, The Great Gatsby, Blue Jasmine, and The Great Beauty) and a couple of Razzie reviews.
Actually, now that I think about it, forget the Razzie reviews. Life’s just too short to waste an afternoon devoting myself to an analysis of A Madea Christmas and Temptations of a Marriage Counselor.
Besides, I’ve gotta free up some time to go to a couple of other movies I really wanna review, namely The Grand Budapest Hotel, because it has seriously piqued my interest, and Noah, because ditto and I’m a sucker for religious debate, and, just from looking at the movie’s ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, I can tell that this is a movie that will be argued about for a long time.
Anyways, let’s just get to this insane freaking movie, shall we? It’s got Leonardo DiCaprio in it, so it must be great, right?
The Wolf of Wall Street
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Produced by: Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Riza Aziz, Joey McFarland, Emma Tillinger Koskoff
Written by: Terence Winter
Based on: The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort
Genres: Black Comedy, Crime Drama
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin
Oscar nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay (Winter), Best Supporting Actor (Hill), Best Actor (DiCaprio), Best Director (Scorsese), Best Picture
Plot: The film opens to stockbroker Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) showing his exploits off to the audience, namely his opulent salary, highly entertaining workplace, unreal home on the Gold Coast of Long Island, and his beautiful ex-supermodel trophy wife, the beautiful Naomi Lapaglia (Robbie). Oh, and his ability to consume insane amounts of prescription and not-so-much-prescription drugs. How did he get to where he is in life? Well, let him tell you through narcissistic narration!
The setting flashes back to 1987, when Jordan is just busting into Wall Street as a low-level commissioned stockbroker (Or whatever) at L.F. Rothschild. While working there, his boss (McConaughey) suggests that he adopt a lifestyle based around cocaine, casual sex and masturbation in order to relieve tension and stay on top of his job. This works out well for him and the firm until Black Monday (A global crash of the stock market), after which the firm closes down and Jordan finds himself out of a job.
Jordan ends up taking a job with a Long Island boiler room, where he takes advantage of the lax regulations of penny stocks and earns his fortune. Eventually though, he quits this and starts Stratton Oakmont with his buddy, Donnie Azoff (Hill), a burnout with similar tastes in drugs, and starts aggressively scamming people out of millions of dollars, which ends up attracting the attention of FBI agent Patrick Denham (Chandler).
When outlined neatly, as I like to think I just did, the plot is pretty airtight. Sure, it can be a little bit hard to follow, especially when he explains all the fiscal jargon that goes into stockbroking and running a scam, but as far as I know, there aren’t any holes in the plot. Martin Scorsese directs the movie excellently, like he do, although the editing was kind of haphazard.
Honestly though, the movie is three hours long, and it only really heeded to be two and a half hours long. You could skip, let’s say, from the 30-minute mark until, say, the 90-minute mark, and you will have missed nothing except a lot of sex scenes and other scenes of debauchery that didn’t need to be there.
Now that I’ve mentioned it, I guess I should mention my biggest problem (And, I suppose, one the biggest controversial aspects of the film) with this movie, which are the gratuitous sex and drug use depicted in the first half of the movie. Now, if any of you are thinking of calling me a sheltered, conservative prude, I’d like you to take a moment to remember that I’m a 17-year old straight kid. Do you honestly think I’d have a negative reaction to a nude female body without a good reason? Especially when that nude female body belongs to Margot Robbie? Get real.
No, it’s not that these scenes are evil, or immoral, or whatever. It’s just that we’re given so many of these scenes in such a short period of time (An hour is a shirt period of time in a Scorsese flick) that it just ends up losing any shock value that it might have previously possessed, to the point where I realized that I had just been watching an extremely explicit orgy in an airplane that involved several gorgeous women and Leonardo DiCaprio (Because come on, nobody’s that straight) and felt absolutely nothing emotionally or otherwise. That really sucks, because a) I like seeing hot women in various states of undress (I just realized that this post is starting to make me sound like a huge pervert. Thank God for internet anonymity!) and b) There are so many ways that these scenes could have been used constructively but weren’t.
One example in this movie of a well-placed sex scene is the one near the end of the film where Jordan is banging his wife for the last time before she leaves him. This is a great scene because it exposes Jordan Belfort as the pathetic human being that he has become, begging his wife for sex and whimpering, if I remember correctly (Screw double-checking!). I fail to see how a scene detailing how Jordan and Donnie “double-teamed” some woman in an office is supposed to convey as much importance, though.
With that said, I feel like I should mention that, in all fairness, the movie cuts down on most of the filler after the halfway point, and became miles more engaging. It doesn’t elevate it to legendary heights or anything, but it’s still excellent. It’s just a damn shame that the second quarter of the movie, or so, is so fricking weak.
And as for the complaints about this film being “amoral”, I have these two points to mention to anybody using this weak excuse to discredit a movie.
- What exactly did you expect from the guy who directed Taxi Driver and Goodfellas?
- Get off your fucking soapbox.
Yeah, this movie is amoral. So was Pulp Fiction, and it’s a universally loved movie. If you wanna criticize this movie, try focusing on its’ legitimate flaws and try not to base your argument on a completely subjective feeling like morality.
Acting/Writing: As you will soon be able to tell from the briefness of this section and the interminable nature of the last one, I don’t have nearly as much to say about the actors. They do a great job with what they have (Which is also great). What else do I need to say?
The two Oscar nominees shine, obviously, with DiCaprio giving a great (If not too close to being his greatest) performance, even channeling a little bit of his role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape at one point, and Jonah Hill further distancing himself from his links to Judd Apatow and turning in a wonderful darkly comic performance. Australian actress Margot Robbie is fantastic too, and kudos to her for managing to hold her own on the screen with Leonardo DiCaprio while being somewhat of a newcomer. Also, she’s the hottest human being on the goddamn planet.
What nominations did it deserve?:
- Best Adapted Screenplay (Winter): Yeah, I can see it being nominated.
- Best Supporting Actor (Hill): Yup.
- Best Actor (DiCaprio): He deserved the nomination, even if he didn’t deserve to beat his co-star, MConaughey.
- Best Director (Scorsese): It’s no Aviator, but sure.
- Best Picture: Actually, no. I think it’s flaws are too numerous to ignore, and I think that it’s kinda sad that it was nominated over, say, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.