The Wolf of Wall Street

Posted in movies by - December 31, 2013
The Wolf of Wall Street

There is a scene in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ that concerns the effects of Quaaludes on the nervous system that singlehandedly redeemed Leo DiCaprio for me. I don’t think of Leo as a funny guy, much less a physical comedian. I was wrong.

At this point in American history, nobody needs to be advised to see a Scorcese film. He’s a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, maybe the best director in the history of the medium. His misses are better than most people’s hits. He misses infrequently.

‘Wolf’ is vintage funny Scorcese, a frothy confection with rot at the center. DiCaprio plays an ambitious and overconfident schnook who washes out when his first employer on Wall Street folds up around him. After spending some time in the weeds with penny stock traders on Long Island, he decides to start his own firm, trading worthless penny stocks to blue chip clients. His idea works, for a time. Not to make money for his clients, necessarily. In fact, the clients are treated like dumb livestock who are only alive to be fleeced, no matter which set of traders we’re watching. The clients do not prosper, good companies are not favored over bad ones, but the new firm makes big, yacht-with-a-helicopter-on-it money. This attracts the attention of law enforcement, and the countdown to implosion begins.

The heart of the film is that Jordan Belfort is the American Dream made flesh. Not the American Dream we tell our kids about – hard work, sacrifice, the creation of a legacy of value and integrity. Belfort’s dream is the one we’ve all agreed not to talk about too much, where a man finds an easy way to steal money without offering anything of value and spends that money on drugs and status-seeking. His little brokerage is a sleek, efficient money extraction machine that makes the world a little worse with every success. It’s also a sleek, efficient metaphor for everything toxic and corrupt about the economy we’ve built for ourselves.

You should see it because it’s shot beautifully. It’s funny and exciting and disgusting and true. It’s Scorcese, still at the top of his game.

This post was written by MisterDee

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