Friday, January 10, 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street can be described in a single word: excessive. This covers both the subject matter - the life of stock fraudster Jordan Belfort - and the running time - three hours. There is nothing wrong with the acting or the technical aspects of moviemaking, but the characters and events depicted are incredibly repugnant and difficult to relate to.

Jordan Belfort is a real person, and the movie is based on a book he wrote with the same title. This goes a long way toward explaining why the movie glamorizes his depraved, stupid, and illegal actions, though not why the movie was made in the first place. I went to the movie largely based on the names involved, and I am disappointed in all of them for contributing money to a man like Belfort. Fun fact: the budget of this film, at 100 million dollars, is about the same as the amount that Belfort still owes as a result of his 2003 settlement, and is a fraction of the amount he actually stole.

The movie follows the career of Belfort from his beginnings as an ambitious and talented but naive stockbroker through his years of living high (literally) as a result of his penny-stock fraud scheme at a company he founded, to his fall and subsequent resurrection as a clean and honest motivational speaker, at least according to him. Along the way the film depicts a truly staggering amount of drugs, depravity, and idiocy in rather explicit detail. While it isn't a porno, it is fairly surprising that it only has an R rating.

Much of the movie rides on Leonardo DiCaprio's performance as Belfort, and he does not disappoint. The man can act. Margot Robbie is quite good as Belfort's second wife, as is Jean Dujardin in a small part. The rest of the actors are competent enough, except for Jonah Hill, who has never impressed me. Almost the entirety of Matthew McConaughey's part can be seen in the trailer.

As one expects from a Martin Scorsese film, the direction is excellent. Much credit also goes to the locations and props departments, both for providing the excess that the story calls for and for matching details like changing phone and computer technology through the late 80s and 90's.

Despite the quality of the acting and filmmaking, I do not recommend that anyone see this movie. It is billed as a dark comedy; while it is dark, it is not funny - it is excessive.

1. Gravity
2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
3. Much Ado About Nothing
4. Frozen
5. Now You See Me
6. The World's End
7. Ender's Game
8. Despicable Me 2
9. Star Trek: Into Darkness
10. Thor: The Dark World
11. Oblivion
12. Pacific Rim
13. Rush
14. Iron Man 3
15. Her
16. Kick Ass 2
17. American Hustle
18. 47 Ronin
19. Man of Steel
20. Jack the Giant Slayer
21. Beautiful Creatures
22. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
23. The Family
24. RIPD
25. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
26. Oz the Great and Powerful
27. Epic
28. G.I. Joe: Retaliation
29. The Wolverine
30. Elysium
31. Monsters University
32. Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters
33. The Grandmaster
34. Machete Kills
35. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
36. The Wolf of Wall Street
37. Carrie
38. The Great Gatsby
39. The Lone Ranger
40. This is the End

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