The Wolf of Wall Street ★★★ Plus


★★★ Plus

“The Wolf of Wall Street”  3 hours     Director:  Martin Scorsese,   screenplay by Terene Winter, based on the original book by Jordan Belfort   Cast:  Leonardo DiCaprio (Jordon Belfort) , Jonah Hill (side kick),  Rob Reiner (father),  Cristin Milioti (first wife), Joanna Lumley (Aunt Emma)), Matthew McConaughy (mentor, Mark Hanna), Kyler Chandler (FBI Agent), Christine Ebersole (first wife).

Based on the autobiography of the infamous Jordan Belfort, who became the “Wolf of Wall Street” in the late ’80s and 90s.     Greed,  Money Laundering,  Stock Fraud,  Indiscriminate Sex, Excess, Drug Use and lack of Moral Code, ( framed in endless full frontal nude scenes by every starlet in Hollywood) is swallowed up by its main theme of Addiction.  And it is a comedy!  You’ll  find yourself laughing more than you care to admit. How can we all laugh when it is all so lacking in…depth?  But laugh we do.  There is, after all, a fine line between comedy and tragedy. Scorsese  seduces us with mansions, fashion, yachts, gorgeous, naked men and women,  encouraging us to walk the walk with Belfort, to get our vicarious thrills;  it is as close as most of us will ever get to the high life.  For a while, that is actually fun.  But there lacks balance in the film.  Other than a whimper of caution from Belfort’s first wife, his father, Max and the minor appearance towards the end of an honest FBI agent, there is a remarkable lack of morality, of characters who would protest vehemently to Belfort to stop worshiping such a hedonistic life.  Weren’t there any young Wolf Cubs who told him to shove it?

 Jordon Belfort comes from humble beginnings and resolves to further his love of money by joining a respectable stock brokerage firm.  He is taken under the wing of Mark Hanna, who decides to mentor his young colleague by teaching him what he knows about living and dying in the stock market. In a first-class restaurant Hanna tells Belfort to masturbate at least twice a day;  it clears the mind up, he assures him.  He begins to thump on his chest, humming, indicating to Belfort to do the same.  And so, another Wolf on Wall Street is born.  I half expected Gordon Geckko to make a cameo appearance played, of course,  by Michael Douglas.

When our protagonist receives  his license to trade he shows up for his first day of work:  October  19, 1987, ready to conquer the world. But a crash in the market, now called Black Monday,  immediately spits Belfort out of the system. Belfort takes off for Long Island and before you can count your Quaaludes, he is hiring sleazy new “brokers” for his new firm that specializes in penny stocks.   He teaches his proteges the “pump and dump” system of exaggerating the value of a nearly worthless stock and selling it for big profits.  He goes on to create his new brokerage firm, Stratton Oakmont, and eventually hires and leads a thousand brokers in his boiler room arena of greed.   The excess and energy of the movie reminds me of “The Great Gatzby” without the horrible graphics.

It is exhausting, shameless and disgusting.   Yet, laugh you will.   You cannot take this seriously.  This really is not the American Dream.  It is Hollywood doing what Hollywood does:  entertain.  Sit back and relax, without moral code, or you will be repulsed.

★★★ Plus


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