The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street is Martin Scorcese’s high-rolling Wall Street drama based on the memoirs of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, whose giddy career involving audacious scams ended in federal prison. Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) made a lucrative lifestyle for himself by founding an investment company that scammed people into buying garbage penny stocks. The film sizzles with energy and excitement that never lets up for three hours. Scorsese depicts the gritty, no-holds-bared world of the fascinatingly despicable in arguably the best movie of 2013! Leonardo DiCaprio is nothing short of a force of nature as Jordan Belfort, initially an optimistic wide-eyed young stock broker who is sucked into the frenzied money-crazed world of Wall Street in the late 80’s and early 90’s, where he goes from being told he’s “lower than pond scum” to being the head of “the greatest company in the world”. His first boss, a Gordon Gekko-like broker named Mark Hannah (a very good Matthew McConaughey) introduces sex and drugs into Belfort’s life in a speech that has to be heard to be believed. The film is a playful and cartoonish portrait of excess gone wild. It very much parallels the ‘real world’, but in Scorsese’s hands it becomes a delirious cinematic exaggeration. A film full of unrepentant assholes and con-men. Although in DiCaprio’s remarkably charismatic motivational speeches to his employees, you’ll be forgiven for briefly being lured in by his twisted, greedy ideology. DiCaprio is mesmerizing and plays his sociopathic drug-induced part to the hilt. That, my friends, is worth the price of admission. Who knew DiCaprio could play funny with a straight face. DiCaprio’s acting is stunningly good. His portrayal of this Wall Street stockbroker is both dazzling and spellbinding. The fact that this is a true story about a real stockbroker makes this movie even more interesting. Many of the apparently far-fetched escapades depicted in the movie are consistent with what he wrote in his two memoirs. After watching the trailer & reading a few reviews, my wife and I went with another senior couple to see it. This man with us had been a stockbroker for eight years with a large brokerage house, and I made our living by playing the stock market for years — so between us we understood the tricks and manipulations of the brokers. Brokers, in my opinion, are the biggest liars in the world. Frankly, I put stock brokers one step above used-car salesmen and on par with lawyers, and I should know because my one son-in-law is a stock broker and the other is a lawyer — and they’d both steal the boots off a dead person before the body was cold. I’m glad to not ever be a part of that world. I despise the types of people portrayed, and I hate even more how Hollywood glamorizes them. Scorsese & Leo can say all they want that this is a cautionary tale, but it’s a story written by a misogynistic jerk about his exploits. Someone else who worked for a brokerage firm was even told to ramp up the enthusiasm by jumping onto his desk. He said he made a lot of money but got out because of his conscience. Another stockbroker on the radio said he expected to find some redeeming value in the work, but there isn’t any — that it’s a soulless scramble for money. I found everything about the way this scam worked disgusting, and it entirely changed the way I look at sales. The movie is also a frightening exposé about what went wrong with our economy in the last decade. This is an amazing depiction of the greed that enveloped Wall Street, and probably still does. These arrogant greed-mongers all deserve jail time and the loss of their ill-gotten gains. Whether the film is glorifying greed or not is a gross oversimplification. To compare it to another Scorsese movie, I found a lot of similarities with GoodFellas, in the sense that we follow an antihero that we root for but are still repulsed by. If you enjoy the emotional complexities that come with a charismatic antihero, then give this one a try. This movie is a full three-hours long, but it is all effective material fascinating to watch and very entertaining. Overall, it’s probably overstretched and repetitive, some sequences lingering longer than they strictly need to. Scorsese could have chopped half of the orgy scenes and it would not have hurt the movie at all and would have made it a more reasonable length. Yes, it may be a bit long, but DiCaprio is so amazing that it is worth sitting through. I thought it was just the right length, because when it was over, I felt like I had been on a bender for three hours, without any of the risks. But it is so good it didn’t seem that long — the three hours flew by. This is a big, bold, lively and obscene tale that offers so many pleasures. It is excessive because I think it is trying to portray addiction in all its manifestations. Despite the over-the-top debauchery, it really is entertaining. It is hilarious. I was laughing so hard that I had tears in my eyes! This is the most entertaining movie I’ve seen in a couple years. The performances were fascinating, and the story itself is staggering. Conclusion: great movie. Well worth seeing. Loved it. However, if you are easily offended by substance abuse and sexual content, this may not be for you. That the story is based on an autobiographical book by the real Jordan Belfort just adds poignancy and weight to the movie. When we got home from seeing the movie, I ordered the book from Amazon. We will watch this movie again. The notoriety of Belfort’s firm, which was targeted by law enforcement officials in the late 1990s, inspired the 2000 film Boiler Room as well as this 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street. Docudrama 2013 R.


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