"The Wolf of Wall Street": "Mean Streets" director does "Ugly Street"

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"The Wolf of Wall Street" is an ugly, unforgivable movie of shameful practices and sociopathic tendencies. How else, of course, would you make a movie about Wall Street finance?

Jordan Belfort, according to the movie taken from his book, didn't only disrespect and take advantage of trusting investors. He literally hated them. He curses and derides them all the way through the film. He steals their money and uses it for prostitutes and drugs. He teaches other people to do the same things for the same reasons. Even after he goes to federal prison, depicted as a Club Fed resort, he continues bragging that he's rich and he's in a place where money can buy anything.

Jordan's nastiness is graphically depicted for three hours on the screen. Leonardo DiCaprio, portraying Jordan, explains every sordid detail in voice-over.  There's lots of sex, scads of drugs, tons of cruelty, and legions of stealing. Calling it "over the top" is a major understatement. The New York Daily News says that some countries won't let Jordan's movie be shown there. In others it's being censored. The same newspaper also says that the federal government made some gestures toward taking his  fee for the movie rights, but they gave up. Wikipedia says he received $1,000,000 for his story, so he didn't just profit from his activities, he's still profiting!

Is the movie well done? Of course it's well done! It's Martin Scorsese! There are a lot of laughs and some very tantalizing sex scenes. One hardly realizes the extra length of the film as each scene vies with the last one for biggest impression.

So one could, if they wanted to, relate to this real Wall Street financial predator, Jordan Belfort, as the hero of a very entertaining saturnalia of a movie. But it's hard to avoid a gnawing feeling that the ticket stub in one's pocket is proof positive that we're not Jordan. We're some of the suckers he hustled!

"The Wolf of Wall Street"

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey

Photo: Official site/Paramount Pictures

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  • If I had been alone, I would have walked out of the theater. Since I didn't, I saw the climactic scene in which Belfort works his after prison career as a motivational speaker. As Belfort continues his con, the camera switches to Belfort's point of view and pans out over the audience.

    Of course I'm tempted to read his rapt audience as film critics and students. But the movie practically never shows anything but what Belfort wants to sell. But obviously Scorsese means it to be us, the audience, who want what Belfort's selling. The movie accuses Belfort of being a lousy husband and father but it accuses us of being greedy.

    "We" are responsible for Wall Street according to this movie. Nonsense!

    There is also a factual error in the review, which says it explains every detail in voiceover. As I remember there are at least two occasions in which DiCaprio as Belfort refuses to explain his machinations, assuring us that we are not interested, that we just want to know how much money he made. But I was interested. It's Terence Winter and Martin Scorsese who aren't interested in Belfort's crimes.

    Posted by steven johnson, 01/24/2014 8:39am (7 months ago)

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