Wolf of Wall Street

11 Dec

“Wolf! … Wolf! … Wolf!” the crowd chants – they’re spellbound in the electric air, every time the boss addresses them they’re held breathless, energised … “pick up that phone!”  he shouts at them … “don’t hang up ’til you get what you want!” … with these words, they erupt into chaos and scramble for the phones … Welcome to the world of Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) – a born salesman who can sell anything to anyone – and he does. On his first day at work on Wall Street in the 1980’s, he learns from his boss, Mark Hanna (by Matthew McConaughey), that there’s money to be made – lots and lots of money. From that day on, he learns as much as he can and as soon as he’s qualified he sets out on his own to get his money – not earn it, just get it. He uses the stock market, entices people to buy, watches the market boom … then sits back while his commission rolls in. He slowly builds a following – his first disciple is Donnie Azoff (by Jonah Hill) – a canny business manager, capable salesman and loyal friend. Then comes Brad (by Jon Berthnal), Manny (by Jon Favreau) and Nicky “Rugrat” (by P.J. Byrne). Between them they build a hugely successful business – Jordan’s massive team of stockbrokers hang on his every word, eating out of his hand. Jordan’s father, Max (by Rob Reiner) handles the formal stuff in the business and the boys just do whatever they need to, but they keep the business flowing. Jordan’s success explodes, the money multiplies and his lavish lifestyle knows no bounds. He lives on the edge – sex, drugs and rock’n’roll – it’s full on. At one of his marathon parties, he meets Naomi (by Margot Robbie) and falls heavily in love – now his life is set – beautiful wife, beautiful home, beautiful career … it’s all easy … and so much fun. Soon, the FBI starts to notice him and they keep him under close watch. Agent Patrick Denham (by Kyle Chandler) is sure he’s running foul of the law, but just has to prove it. By the 1990’s Jordan’s got shoe designer Steve Madden wrapped up in his activities and the investors who love Madden’s shoes go crazy. To keep off of the FBI’s radar, Jordan sets up a Swiss Bank account and enlists the help of Naomi’s very British Aunt Emma (by Joanna Lumley) to manage things in Europe. How far can Jordan get before the Feds catch up with him?  Which one will happen first – he dies from his extreme lifestyle or the Feds find a way to nab him?

This is a true story – but whilst I have no interest in Jordan Belfort or his life, I do have a fascination for the marvellous performance by Leonardo DiCaprio here. This is a supremely marathon effort – a near-three hour movie that’s pretty much all him. It’s a physical role too. Jordan Belfort’s lifestyle leaves no stone unturned, he does everything to the extreme and the movie pulls no punches. It would have required significant physical and emotional strength by DiCaprio to complete – that’s impressive. I think it’s bit indulgent and unnecessary that Martin Scorcese needed to create a 3-hour movie – the story could have been as well told in less time, but nevertheless it’s well made, beautifully shot and carefully edited. Jonah Hill is strong too but many of the other performances are glossed over and deserve more time – Joanna Lumley is perfect as very English Aunt Emma and Margot Robbie plays Naomi perfectly – she looks stunning too. Rob Reiner seems to want to be IN movies these days too, not just direct them. The whole story is told well – DiCaprio’s physical performance is really good work. It’s a mystery and a shame that although the movie is universally recognised in the 2014 season for its excellent direction (by Martin Scorcese), screenplay (by Terence Winter), editing (by Thelma Schoonmaker), lead role actor (by DiCaprio) and support role actors (Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie), the American Academy of Motion Pictures largely ignores it. It has nominations, but no Oscar. DiCaprio won a Golden Globe and the movie won AFI Movie of the Year, Austin Film Critics Best Film, DiCaprio won Awards Circuit Community Best Actor, Boston Online Film Critics Association gave it one of the “Ten Best Films of the Year”, Boston Society of Film Critics said “Best Film, Director, Actor, Screenplay and Film Editing” … the list goes on. This movie deserves it.

Made in 2013. Directed by Martin Scorcese

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Posted by on December 11, 2014 in Movies


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