Tuesday, January 14, 2014

wolf of wall street

Since I'm someone who bristles at the sight of CitiBikes, I went into The Wolf of Wall Street with trepidation but Martin Scorsese's zippy rise of broker Jordan Belfort (played with gusto and unabashed scenery chewing by Armani-swathed Leo DiCaprio) was zany enough to be somewhat solid entertainment. The dullness and wonkiness of trading is never on display here as it is in J.C. Chandor's boring but more sophisticated Margin Call or in 2000's Boiler Room, a dry, fairly forgotten movie inspired by Belfort's shady activities. Wolf is knowing, masculine fluff. Lots of controversy has ensued over the movie's glossy view of Belfort's drug-infused ride. I didn't find the portrait that glowing though I can understand the reservations (especially that weirdly portrayed gay butler stuff: I guess it's a flip-side view of Belfort's revulsion at excess?) and also can see how his character could give certain audiences (likely men who may look similarly like the slightly indistinct rah rah neck-tied Belfort worshippers of his headquarters) the same perverse thrill that Christian Bale in American Psycho or Brad Pitt in Fight Club gives them--Wolf is already notched at #52 on the imdb Top 250 movies of all time. But the movie's noticeable offenses to me may be the dialogue-y but empty script by Terence Winter and DiCaprio's bland voice-overs; the narration doesn't work nearly as well as it did for Liotta in Goodfellas perhaps because Wolf is largely a tension-free artificial sugar high. Unlike Scorsese's usual work, save for a few scenes, including a strong, incriminating final shot and a black-hued behind-the-windshield view of Belfort's wife walking away angrily (the brassy, dynamic Margot Robbie), overall the movie is visually flat but chopped up like crazy (by Marty's MVP Thelma Schoonmaker) giving it a first-viewing energy that's hard to resist.  ***

-Jeffery Berg

No comments:

Post a Comment