Sunday, January 19, 2014

Film Review: The Wolf of Wall Street (8.5/10)

Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street
I was hesitant to watch The Wolf of Wall Street when it first came out a few weeks back. Most of us are aware of the greed saturated scandals that had rocked Wall Street in the 80s and 90s (well, during the entire history of the exchange of stocks and securities, including present day) and I think my not wanting to see that depicted in film and the stockbrokers basking in the glory of their suspicious accumulation of wealth was just too much to bear. However, I'm glad I saw WoWS because this Martin Scorsese film is brilliant in presenting the story of the rise and semi-fall of penny stockbroker Jordan Belfort, played by the fantastic Leonardo DiCaprio. And as you know, this is based on a true story from Mr. Belfort's book.

When Jordan was a 22 year-old kid, he got his first job at a stockbroker, and he was taken under the wings by an arrogant, lunchtime cocaine snorting stockbroker (Matthew McConaughey) who told him that the necessary key to success is using drugs, jerking off several times a day, and hookers. This type of stockbroker, and his wealth was the role model that Jordan had which then ushered him into a world of absolute sleeze, criminal behavior, and greed at a sociopath level. Never have I seen a film that perfectly showcased why women are not taken seriously in society. This film should have been titled, The Gynecologist of Wall Street'. Women are mere sexual objects and breathing flesh in the world of the dominant wolf and his pack of assholes, hence Jordan's moniker as The Wolf. The blatant graphic sex and nudity was a little shock to see because it's unheard of seeing that type of behavior in the workplace. The women are whores (apparently there are three types of prostitutes), mistresses, loud-mouth imbeciles, strippers, etc. I've never seen so many naked women fully disrobed, gyrating, involved in three-ways, gang bangs, and full frontal seductresses. If there's one thing for sure, the WoWS has secured the justification for the continued misuse and abuse of the female form in Hollywood, but this conversation is for another article. But you get my point.

The WoWS presented a story about what people are willing to do to other people just for money. The price for lying to clients and stealing their hopes and dreams is priceless because the Jordan's of the world have the most beautiful homes, the biggest yachts, fastest cars, and so much money that they call $100 bills "fun coupons". The constant need to show off and keep the little people in their place also shows how insecure these people are and it makes them even more greedy to widen that gulf between the Have Everythings and the shitty subway riding Have Nothings. Greed is contagious and brings out a primitive nature in a lot of people. The group rallies at Stratford-Oakmont look like they were at drug and alcohol fueled high school house parties with all the hooting and howling, and beating on the chest in a conquering warlike mantra. Jordan Belfort was their God and his face should be on the money that his training helped them earn. He was their pack leader and they idolized him.

The mighty do eventually fall when the FBI started to investigate Stratford-Oakmont's suspicious exchanges and Jordan goes to jail for 36 months. In the end, when Jordan is released, because of his successes which made him very rich, people still flocked to him as the alpha male who holds the key to earning millions, totally ignoring how corrupt he was and how many people he bankrupt in the process to make himself rich. The final shot of the camera shows the Belfort seminar audience with hypnotic glazed over eyes listening to every word Jordan says about how to become a millionaire. Money talks, and WoWS shows how stupid, morally bankrupt people can become superstars and present a way of life that a lot of people want to obtain... by any means necessary.  A real wolf has much more class and pride.

A beautiful regal gray wolf
Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for this role, and I tell you, I was impressed with his performance. Leo has been nominated about five times before, and if he were to win the Oscar for WoWS, I would be happy for him because he was really great. From the country club payphone scene to the kitchen scene with Jonah Hill was fantastic, I was laughing my ass off. It was funny, and serious and really showed how talented Leo is in presenting the bizarre effects of a drug-fueled episode that was a regular occurrence in Belfort's life. There has been a lot of discussion about how divisive this film is, and to sensitive people, yes, this may be a hard film to watch with the drug use, graphic sex/nudity, and foul language. But one must keep in mind that this is a film about a wall street securities exchange company, not a sewing-circle in Iowa, so for all the gratuitous nature of those three elements, they were realistic for this film.

Score: 8.5 out of 10 - upon a second viewing, the score could go higher, it's a great film. The 3-hour length is appropriate for this heavy material and 15 year time span.

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