Friday, December 27, 2013

"The Wolf of Wall Street": can a "comedy" run for three hours?

The Wolf of Wall Street” is indeed a Martin Scorsese film, three hours of comic debauchery.  The movies has a grand introduction, with Paramount’s new musical fanfare (to rival Lionsgate) and it feints a third production company, something like Stadler Oakmont, with a lion resembling MGM’s – until we realize that’s Jordan Belfort’s brokerage company.
Belfort (Leonardo DiCarpio) learns his sales culture on his first job around 1984 or so from Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey)  before he gets his own Series 7 license, and after the 1987 crash (I was in San Francisco that day, which I remember well), where he loses his job, he proves he can “create urgency” and “overcome objections” (and the “always be closing” from the movie “100 Mile Rule”) working for a penny stock firm on Long Island, when he takes his people and forms his own company.  Donnie (Jonah Hill) quits to work for him.
The film comprises almost unrelieved excess, of sex, drugs and greed, until Belfort’s undoing while filming a sales commercial.  The bit about wearing a wire and cooperating with the government gets interesting.  They show putting on the wire, but missed a further comic opportunity to depilate his meager chest (“No-no” today could make ii permanent), which does happen in the movie “Se7en”. 

The world in this film makes the Hamptons backdrop of the ABC soap "Revenge" seem tame by comparison.  Maybe Belfort needed to meet a "Nolan Ross", a nerd with some moral concerns and who made his money by creating content, not by manipulating and hucksterizing.  To me, Donnie, as a sidekick, wasn't that funny.  "Salesmanship" and manipulating others seemed to be the only virtue in this world (other than "drugs" -- of which there are plenty). 
Bernie Madoff’s Lipstick Building (shown here) appears in one scene. 
The official site is here

The movie makes me wonder, am I better off the way I am? Perhaps greed is not so good. 
I saw this at Regal’s Potomac Yards, well attended on a Friday evening.  

Picture above: Mine. March 2012, below, Jan. 2014.

Update: Jan 24. 2014

Piers Morgan interviewed Jordan Belfort on CNN tonight. Belfort says he lives with remorse, but he denies that, unlike the history with Bernie Madoff, anyone got wiped out.  Belfort did say that he was a great father. Does that redeem him?

Check also Oct. 23, 2013 (Dreier case) and Aug. 27, 2011 (Madoff).

Update: Feb. 20, 2014

Lawyer Andrew Greene has filed a lawsuit against Paramount and the principals of this film, demanding it be removed from theaters, details on CNN here. Greene was apparently called by his real name but referred to as "Rugrat" in the film (but "Wigwam" in real life). .  

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