Hi, Bryan Here…
Even though Martin Scorsese is 71 years old, he has not taken a slower and more cautious path in making films or even the stories he tells. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘ is anything but cautious and slow. In fact, during its three hour run time from start to finish, only one hour seems to have passed by, as we are thrown in head first into a drug-fueled, rich hungry, and ultra luxurious life of Jordan Belfort and the sinful synagogue know as Wall Street. I have no problem with saying that this is right up there with the best of Scorsese’s films, and it might be Leonardo DiCaprio’s most intense, layered, and greatest performances yet. Hundreds of millions of dollars are made during the course of this film, and I’m sure the same amount, if not more will be made at the box office this holiday.
This marks the fifth time Scorsese and DiCaprio have worked together, and this time we focus on real life man Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio), who wrote his biography on his time on Wall-Street, and how he conned many people out of millions and millions of dollars through his illegal operation and tactics. In fact, the film ‘Boiler Room‘ was also based on Jordan Belfort’s book and stories, but instead of a mild approach and showing all of the ins and outs of the actual business, Scorsese focuses more on the lavish and criminal lifestyle of these characters, which to say they live in brutal excess is putting it lightly.
We follow a young early 20 something New York kid from a middle class family who hits Wall-Street and immediately falls in love with everything involved in the stock broker business. His boss (Matthew McConaughey, amazing), tells a young Belfort the two keys to be successful in the business over a hilarious high-end lunch in the skies of New York. Those keys to success are copious amounts of drugs and tons of sex.
Unfortunately, the Wall Street life comes to a halt for everyone on Black Monday, which was a giant stock market crash in the 80s and the firm that Belfort was at, closed down, leaving him out of a job. But hell bent on making money and devising a life style fit for a Roman God, Belfort opens up a stock broker firm with a good name called Stratton Oakmont in Long Island inside an abandoned car garage, where he enlists some shady friends who seem to only deal drugs and turns them into cold-calling salesmen with suits and ties. Among these men is Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), a person who Belfort met by chance. Donnie is Belfort’s right hand man and close friend through these few years.
Belfort’s goal was to get super wealthy people to purchase penny stocks, meaning these wealthy people would give Jordan and his company thousands and millions of dollars for a company that was either non-existent or was being run out of someone’s home, and had no chance of making any money. Meanwhile, Belfort and his employees reaped the benefits. Along with that, they fixed market prices, forged documents, and lied, cheated, and stole from their clients. But that’s just the surface of the film.
The real meat and potatoes of the movie are watching Belfort and Donnie tailspin out of control and hit rock bottom. From a two million dollar bachelor party for Belfort for his second marriage to Naomi (Margot Robbie, beautiful and great here), to mansions, yachts, a helicopter, and enough drugs to satisfy an entire small country, life is not slow, nor modest here.
And what Scorsese does here, is make this entire situation laugh out loud funny, even doing a parody of a drug induced sequence that might be one of the best drug related scenes I’ve seen in cinema history, where we have DiCaprio take a bunch of long lost Quaaludes to which he narrates that he skips directly “to the cerebral palsy’ phase, and has to crawl out of a country club and drive his Lamborghini home, only to have a near death experience while watching Popeye eat his spinach. It’s one of the best scenes in a movie in a long time, and DiCaprio is just magnificent here as he uses his body to fumble around in a drug-fueled state.
From all the criminal activity that the real Belfort did, he only got a two year or so sentence in a country club resort prison where he was roommates with Tommy Chong from Cheech n’ Chong, and now he is a motivational speaker, and I’m willing to bet his fee to speak will skyrocket after this month ends. Scorsese and DiCaprio show us just how brutal it was for Belfort to make his decisions to take on the FBI and eventually rat out many of his partners in turn for his shortened sentence.
Jonah Hill is simply amazing here. With his fake giant teeth and hilarious dialogue, you can’t help but like yet hate his character. This is truly Hill’s best role to date, as he has a lot of room to go crazy here. Margot Robbie plays Belfort’s wife with a certain class and crass,a s we clearly see she is beautiful, but also loves the lifestyle, but is quick to move on if the money runs out. McConaughey is brilliant too, but is only on screen for a few minutes, but for those few minutes, we are in the palm of his hand. And playing Belfort’s dad is Rob Reiner, who turns in a hilarious performance as a dad who has an opinion on everything, even though he and DiCaprio look nothing alike.
And then there is DiCaprio. I’ve never seen him let loose the way he does here. Well maybe for a few seconds on screen in one of his earlier movies, but the amount of physical comedy, and the use of his body here is over-the-top, and grand in all the right ways. If DiCaprio doesn’t win an Oscar, then something is wrong with the entertainment business. His long monologues on pepping up his team of 1000 employees are riveting, and he delivers each line with a surge of chaos and was always one step ahead of everyone.
Scorsese uses some elements from ‘Casino‘ and ‘Goodfellas‘ here as far as certain shots go, as well as the whole narration aspect is concerned. Throughout, DiCaprio/Belfort is telling us this story, and we are forever charmed by his presence, even though he is doing something very wrong. After all the violence, drugs, intense sex scenes, and criminal activity, Scorsese wanted us to see the rise and fall of a young man who was an addict to money and drugs, and eventually got off very light, considering his crimes.
Basically, Scorsese made another gangster movie, but instead of the mob guys, we have super rich white guys in $3000 dollar suits, working on Wall-Street. And it works perfectly here. This is the best film of the year and I can’t wait to see it again and again.