Movie Review: Wolf of Wall Street

WolfWallStby Brad Nelson   4/13/14
Allow me to save you three hours of your life. I have to believe this is a valuable service I’m performing, for I must try myself to get back those three hours spent watching The Wolf of Wall Street, the latest (and by no means greatest) Martin Scorsese film.

I haven’t liked a Scorsese film since 1990’s Goodfellas. Scorsese seems to specialize in nihilistic films that are crude and violent for the sake of being crude and violent. The Wolf of Wall Street is no exception. I want you all out there to slap me if it ever get to the point where I have nothing left to say and the equivalent of my writing is just urinating in the street.

Granted, this film is supposedly based on a true story, so if the story is a mean and pathetic one, can one blame the writers or director? Even so, there is no point to viewing this film, even if you cut 60 minutes out of it, which was desperately needed. Martin, simply repeating the same scenes over and over doesn’t an epic make. Casablanca was only 102 minutes.

The Wolf of Wall Street is an exposition of corruption and an immersion into the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. This is a subjective statement, of course, but I believe you are beckoned into this film as a way of life rather than it being any kind of morality tale.

And that’s really the best I can say about this film. It’s not a morality tale. It’s not just a mindless 180 minutes of an anti-capitalist rant, which one might have expected these days when our president, for all practical purposes, is a Marxist. But what is it then?

Well, it’s about 180 minutes of watching people swear, take drugs, have sex, and just be crude. Truly, nothing about being rich exempts a person from being trailer trash, and that best describes the people in this film who, in my not-so-humble opinion, represent merely the cutting edge of a culture that has no redeeming value.

So one may watch this movie as an amateur cultural anthropologist. And that is the hat that I wore because all of the other hats were ill-fitting. If you are actually entertained by watching a movie such as this, there is likely something wrong with you. You need to go see a counselor and work out your issues. And if you make such a film for money, well, the issues can’t be all that much different.

Suffice it to say that I do think Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort gives a lively performance as the head guru of the his investment firm, Stratton Oaks. I give him full marks for getting into this film, and this character, and running with it. Never is there a self-conscious moment regarding him, although the same can’t be said for the truly mediocre performance of Rob Reiner as Jordan Belfort’s father. The same can be said of the relatively small role of Matthew McConaughey in the beginning of this film. Matthew, I wasn’t buying it, even a little. Even in the criminal aspects, this film, and most of these actors, lack the dark charm of, say, a Joe Pesci or Ray Liotta in Goodfellas.

So please do spend three hours today or at another time getting out and smelling the roses. The only benefit of this film is that you will feel the need to take a shower after watching it, and that can be refreshing. • (1254 views)

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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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9 Responses to Movie Review: Wolf of Wall Street

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Don’t expect me to get out and smell the roses. Even aside from having a persistent cold, I don’t have a sense of smell due to chronic sinusitis.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Sorry to hear about your sinusitis. You may simply look at the roses…whenever it is they come into bloom.

      This could have been an interesting movies. But I’m serious when I say, unless you’re a bit messed up in the head, I don’t see how anyone can find such low-life characters constantly engaging in low-life activities entertaining. It was like a libertarian convention in there. 😀

      Scorsese is really flirting with the distinction of being one of the most over-rated directors. I’m not sure how much power he has with the story, but someone needed to break up what really was a one-note film (or three notes if you want to break it up into drugs, money, and sex).

      This film could have been better if, for example, they would have woven in more of the pursuit of Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) by the FBI agent (Kyle Chandler). There’s one cinematically good scene in the movie, and it’s the one where DiCaprio meets with Chandler and another agent on his yacht. I don’t know if any of you remember Chandler from the charming, but short-lived, show “Early Edition,” but he was an inspired choice for this role, but he’s under-used. Chandler really does carry that “good-guy” status with him.

      But, alas, apparently no one has heard of film editing, let along story pacing. It’s just all one orgasm of excess. Cut this film down to an hour and forty minutes, and I might have been able to at least give a caveat-based recommendation. As it is, don’t bother.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Yes, looking I can do, and there are some nice flowers in our front yard. I got to see them at their near-best this weekend going in and out while attending Conglomeration, our local SF convention.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Instead of doing a full review, let me tell you about another movie I just watched this afternoon. It’s called R.I.P.D. That stands for “Rest in Peace Department.”

    Basically this is like a cheap Taiwanese ripoff of Men in Black that isn’t half as funny or as well acted.

    Jeff Bridges (seemingly reprising his role as Rooster Cogburn for some strange reason) teams up with plain-vanilla actor, Ryan Reynolds, (which might be doing an injustice to vanilla) as part of an official after-life police squad. Their job is to find people who have died but haven’t gone on to the next stage (Judgment) and have instead lingered on earth. How they have managed to linger isn’t really explained well.

    Nor does most of the rest of the movie make even the barest amount of sense. Still, this is the kind of film that almost works as a mindless popcorn flick. The problem is, the jokes just aren’t funny. And the rapport between Bridges and Reynolds is non-existent. The only highlight is Mary-Louise Parker who plays sort of a heavenly clearing-house superintendent who is always busting Bridges’ balls.

    Trust me, skip this one and watch the original Men in Black again, especially if you haven’t seen it in a few years. As the police officer said at the scene of the accident, “Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.”

    [And, amazingly, the inflated rating system at IMDB.com, where blockbuster trash is commonly rated higher than Casablanca, rated this a lowly — for them — 5.6. I’m actually surprised. This is just the kind of mediocre crap that people usually go for.]

  3. Glenn Fairman says:

    As for Scorsese, I liked Casino and The Departed, which were both post-Goodfellas, I believe. His violence is at times gratuitous. But he seems to get the most from his actors. DiCaprio is not among my favorites by a long shot, but Mark Wahlburg continues to impress me. Have you seen the film “Warrior?”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Glenn, I thought “Casino” was okay. Here’s my nutshell review I had given someone back in 2012 for “The Departed”:

      R, I really liked about the first 3/5 ths of “The Departed,” libtard actors and all. But then Scorsese fell victim to plot superabundance and the rest of the movie felt too gadgety. But that seems to be what people demand today. How many movies have you watched (and I’m not necessarily talking slasher thrillers) where it seems like the movie has ended satisfactorily but then the director plays Steve Jobs (two or three times) and gives us ONE MORE THING?

      That’s what Scorsese did with this film. I get the impression that “Casablanca” could never have had the sharp, brilliant ending that it had if it were made today. Ilsa and Victor would have gotten into the plane, the plane would have been shot down, crashed, everyone’s okay, they get in a jeep, the jeep hits a land mine, Victor dies, Isla goes on….and then it would turn out that SHE was the real underground leader. She then stays in Casablanca, marries Sam, and is a stripper in Rick’s Café Americain.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I really hate that modernized ending of Casablanca, most especially the likelihood that you’re right that most movie-makers would do that now.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          And instead of “Here’s looking at you, kid” they would today say something inane like, “Whoa…babe.” Movie speech used to be classy. Now all you get is vulgar, dumb, and degenerate. There’s something to be said for true style and class.

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Your opening is very funny. It sounds like a public service announcement from “That Was The Week That Was”

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