Monday, January 27, 2014


The epic, excessive life of notorious Wall Street huckster Jordan Belfort gets epic, excessive cinematic treatment by one of the most epic, excessive of directors, Martin Scorsese.  See a pattern there?  Leonardo DiCaprio is completely and utterly on fire from frame-one, giving it his all in every sense of the phrase.  It’s also, most crucially and surprisingly, the funniest and loosest he’s ever been on screen, revealing new, comedic sides to his personality.  On the complete opposite side of things, the enormously gifted comedic actor Jonah Hill again severely impresses in a dramatic role (his first being his pitch-perfect work in Moneyball), while also landing some of the heartiest laughs in this blackest of comedies.  Littered with tons familiar faces, spot-on character work, and the alarming presence of alluring Australian newcomer Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street races through its three-hour running time like an out of control freight train being driven by a lunatic mad-man. No movie since Terry Gilliam’s hedonistic masterpiece of drug-fuelled shenanigans Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has embraced on-screen drug-use for both dark humor and for appalling dramatic effect the way The Wolf of Wall Street does; it’s bracing and exciting and wildly unexpected coming from the director whose last movie was the warm-hearted children’s fable Hugo.  But that’s why Scorsese continues to be the most important, vital voice in modern cinema – he’s always up to a challenge, always pushing the limits, always going for the filmic jugular. Along with the gifted screenwriter Terrence Winter, they’ve painted a sprawling, troubling portrait of a morally decaying society – the American dream run amok, perverted and corrupted by ultra-success and zero consequences.  And the last shot of the film – possibly the best single shot of the year – casually and brilliantly indicts everyone, not just the despicable characters in the film and the zombie-eyed audience members that Belfort is preaching too at his seminar, but anyone in the audience who has missed the point of this outrageous and masterful piece of storytelling.  

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