Finally finished “Wolf of Wall Street.” Yes, watching a film over 4 days is not the ideal way to experience cinematic art, but when you have two kids, work overtime on a regular basis, have a hobby as a media mogul, and you’re trying to watch an extremely depraved 3-hour film while said kids aren’t in the room (had this film not cost $100 million by a major Hollywood studio, it would’ve easily gotten an NC-99) … well, I’m not going to beat myself up too much.
My verdict? Totally f–king awesome! As much as I enjoyed it, I can’t help but worry about Martin Scorsese. He’s 71-years old and this film is more insanely alive than 99% of most movies being made these days. It’s like someone hooked the man up to jumper cables while he directed this. If you liked that 20-minute sequence in “Goodfellas” where the coked-out Ray Liotta character believes helicopters are following him, well … this is a 3-hour version of that scene.
Leonardo DiCaprio delivers one of the most ferocious performances in movie history. The only performances that come close in terms of energy and intensity are Andy Griffith in “A Face in the Crowd,” Eric Bogosian in “Talk Radio,” Ryan Gosling in “The Believer,” Brad Dourif in “Wise Blood,” Timothy Hutton in “Ordinary People,” Josh Lucas in “Wonderland,” and Eric Roberts in “Star 80.” Apparently, DiCaprio modeled his performance on Malcolm McDowell’s turn in “Caligula.” Jonah Hill nearly matches DiCaprio in terms of insanity and high comedy.
This is the film Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” should’ve been, but wasn’t. “Wall Street” was a good movie, but suffered from too much Stanley Kramer-style moralizing on Stone’s part. Yes, greed/drugs/infidelity/etc. are bad. We all know that. But you don’t have to have characters articulate this ad nauseum. The characters in “Wolf of Wall Street” are all creeps and lowlifes, but Scorsese has the balls and intelligence to let the bastards hang themselves with their own behavior. None of these people likely had too many dark nights of the soul when committing said behavior and it would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise.
Of course, Scorsese runs the risk of some knuckle-dragging simps thinking said behavior is cool because someone isn’t beating them over the head with a moral message. And yes, some idiots will likely flock to Wall Street as a result of this film. But these souls are already too far gone and will either drop dead or wind up indicted if they try to live their life like this movie.
I’m just curious why some people love “Goodfellas,” but despise “Wolf of Wall Street” on moral grounds. There’s no difference between the mobsters in “Goodfellas” and the brokers in “Wolf of Wall Street,” but maybe the fact that the criminals in “Wolf” are white collar criminals maybe hits too close to home. Who knows? Who cares? “Wolf of Wall Street” is a modern classic, nonetheless.