Thursday, June 12, 2014

MOVIE WEEKEND: THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today I present for your consideration a movie about which I have mixed emotions. It's The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, Rated R, Available on DVD, Directed by Martin Scorsese).


Drugs. Sex. Money. Corruption. Greed. Depravity. More Drugs. More Sex. More money. The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true story of a corrupt and crazily successful broker on Wall Street named Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio).

DiCaprio's performance in Wolf is outstanding. Last year I predicted that DiCaprio would win the Best Actor Academy Award for The Great Gatsby, which was not adored by the critics and the public quite to the extent that I loved it. DiCaprio was instead nominated for Wolf, but of course that little gold guy went home with Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club. I felt that MM deserved his award––until I saw Wolf. DiCaprio is so good, so intense, so caught up in his role, that I can't say one of the actors deserved the award over the other.

I must point out, however, that McConaughey has a small role in this movie. His sequence in a restaurant with DiCaprio is hilarious. Some other aspects of Wolf that are supposed to be funny did not have me laughing. I'd say "gawked in amazement" is a better description, or I was bored by the "joke" because it was too obvious.

I have great respect for Martin Scorsese. I have yet to see a movie directed by this man that I didn't think was brilliant. Wolf is brilliant, right down to the strange cuts that are used when characters are high.

Here are my problems:

  • This movie is long. I'm not bothered by 180 minutes of Wolf, but I'm not everybody. Some people will lose interest in the bizarre, frenetic world of the characters.
  • Jonah Hill was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for playing Belfort's partner in crime and business (they're one and the same), Donnie Azoff. I'm not feelin' it with Jonah at the moment. I thought he was a lot better in Moneyball.
  • Margot Robbie, as Naomi Lapaglia, gives a very good performance, while at the same time displaying her prodigious assets. BUT I hate seeing so many women depicted as sex objects. I realize that in Belfort's universe that women were meant to be used in Belfort's best interests––whether he helped a woman become a successful businessperson or snorted coke off her bare butt––but I don't have to like it.
  • This movie verges on what can probably be described as soft-core pornography. I'm no expert on porn, but I felt disgusted by the grotesque behavior of some of the characters. Inaugurating a new glass elevator with a secretary or some assistant giving an executive a blow job while everyone watches? No, thank you. I understand that this movie portrays some real events and that the ugliness is meant to underscore how depraved and drug addled Jordan Belfort is, but I don't like it. How can this movie be rated R when some movies that have far less profanity, drug use, and nudity are rated R? Wolf should be NC-17.

According to the Internet Movie Database, Scorsese gained independent financing for this movie so he wouldn't have to fight with a studio over the more prurient aspects of Wolf, but he had to tone it down to avoid the NC-17 rating. IMDb states:  Leonardo DiCaprio says that he and Martin Scorsese were able to 'push the envelope' with their depiction of over-the-top sexual acts and scenes in "Wolf" and 'make the movie they wanted to' primarily because the production was financed independently, and not by any major studio. Scorsese did however edit some sexual content and nudity to avoid an NC-17 rating at the request of the MPAA.

I still say it should be rated NC-17, and I suspect Scorsese received special consideration from the MPAA because he's Scorsese. Heck, I would probably make coffee for Scorsese if he asked me, and I don't make coffee.

I suspect you've already figured out that this movie is not for children. I wouldn't show it to teenagers, unless they're at least 18 and mature enough to understand that the lifestyle portrayed here is not pretty and exciting.

How do I give Wolf a seal? I'm thinking . . . thinking . . . considering . . . it's brilliant, but I hate misogyny and drugs and greed. Sometimes art transcends my personal dislikes . . . thinking.

Okay. I have it.

The Wolf of Wall Street earns The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Nastay and the Highest Seal of Approval. Two seals. I don't think I've ever done that before, but I've never seen a movie like Wolf before.

Happy Viewing! Make sure the kids are tucked away and won't be wandering out for a drink of water while you're watching this one.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

27 comments:

  1. My kids don't wander. They like to watch movie.

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    1. Don't let them watch The Wolf of Wall Street.

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  2. I think I made it to 90 minutes! I do like Leo and Jonah. Jonah played his opposite on Moneyball.

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    1. Jonah was geekily likable in Moneyball.

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  3. I LOVE this film! I know what you mean about Jonah Hill though, I didn't think he was particularly brilliant in it, good yes, but not best supporting actor-worthy! x

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  4. This seems to echo what I've heard about the movie. It seems to go over-the-top to condemn the opulence by showing how absurd it is, but that technique also seems to aggrandize that lifestyle. It doesn't help that this movie was based off the novel written by the very a-hole DiCaprio portrays. I wonder if it would have helped if it wasn't DiCaprio but instead, say, Paul Giamatti who played the role?
    Oh no, I scheduled a field trip for Mrs. VandeCamp's 3rd grade class to see this movie. I may have goofed.

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    1. I don't wanna see Paul snorting coke off a babe's ass, either. IMDb says that Jordan Belfort coached DiCaprio. The conundrum: Is this behavior a lot of wild and crazy fun, or is it wild and crazy stupid? I know it's stupid. Some people won't get it.

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  5. Nice review, Janie Junebug. Mrs. Shady and I have been fans of Leo ever since his role in Gilbert Grape. We have Jonah Hill's Moneyball on our radar and plan to watch it soon. I enjoyed Margot Robbie as one of the "stews" in the prematurely canceled television series Pan Am. I have seen and enjoyed the Martin Scorsese directed movies Alice, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, King of Comedy, Color of Money, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, Casino, Gangs of New York and The Aviator. When you examine that list you might correctly assume that I appreciate films that put it all out there - the good, the bad and the ugly - and while I might not practice, endorse or condone the behavior depicted on the screen, I welcome the chance to study the characters and learn what motivates them and what past circumstances and events influenced them to become that type of person.

    Thank you for the review, Janie. Wolf's now on my list.

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    1. I love Gilbert Grape. I enjoy Moneyball. It's not the "masterpiece" that Wolf is, but it doesn't gross me out. I know what you mean about this type of movie: I don't like the characters, but it's a great movie.

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  6. I've read enough about this movie to suppose I wouldn't enjoy it.

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    1. You are the kind of person who knows what he'll like or dislike, and what Mrs. C. will like or dislike. It's nice to have firm opinions, yet be adventurous, as you and Mrs. C. certainly are when you travel.

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  7. Now you have made me curious about this movie I had decided to skip. You write the best reviews.

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    1. I don't think you'll like this movie, Inger, but I could be wrong.

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  8. I'm so glad that I didn't watch it with my mother. That sounds like it would have been beyond awkward. (For the record, I love Selena Gomez, but I do not recommend Springbreakers. My mom and I still feel awkward over seeing that together.)

    I'm not sure if it was this movie or not, but Leonardo DiCaprio recently did a movie where he cut his hand accidentally while filming and used it during a take when he was angry. I think it was this movie, especially since you said he seemed so into the role. I've also noticed he really seems to like movies where his character gets lucky.

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    1. Oh my gosh, I would not want to watch this movie with The Hurricane, although she and I talk about all sorts of things. I remember the story about DiCaprio cutting his hand, but I don't know which movie it's in. He's so intense in Wolf that making it must have been exhausting.

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  9. This is one of the few movies I have seen in recent past. I enjoyed it and thought Leo was brilliant. I, like you was disturbed by the over-the-top sex and the drugs and just the fact that people could be so unscrupulous! Good movie though.

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  10. I agree with the review, and your final comment is the best!

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  11. Can't wait to see this film.

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    1. I hope you're interested enough to stay awake. Favorite Young Man saw Wolf in a theater. I think this movie on a big screen would be overwhelming.

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  12. It was an interesting story, but I'm with you on all counts. And I seriously think the whole tale could have been told without the mega-potty mouth. That sort of stuff is really getting on my last nerve. Pushing the envelope is not an Olympic event...well, at least it wasn't...

    Good post, Janie Junebug!

    Hugs, Cherdo

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    1. Thank you, Cherdo. I think we could have gotten the impression of what was going on with Belfort and Co. without the movie being so graphic.

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  13. Great comments. I might skip this one as I don't enjoy movies that have excessive debauchery or violence to prove a point (though I do watch the TV series Fargo and Game of Thrones, though I have issues with both to some degree, while still appreciating the art).

    I feel similarly about Bret Easton Ellis' work, the movie adaptations American Psycho and there's another one I'm forgetting the name of but it plays a rape as a "joke" and overly-sexualizes women. I get that the point is the characters themselves are grotesque, but do I want to see that? I also held off watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo even though I've read the books. Seeing rape is different than reading about it where you can skim or filter. We have to know our own limits and protect ourselves.

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  14. I have not been to the cinema to see a movie in many years, but I do remember taking young children to the movies it could be so much fun...............lol

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  15. I expected this to be on the tasteless side--how could it not be. But it sounds even moreso than I was expecting. I will still watch it, but am a little hesitant.

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