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 The Wolf of Wall Street - film review

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Enlightened Viewer

PostSubject: The Wolf of Wall Street - film review   Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:37 pm

Directed by Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street is billed as a comedy.  Well I didn’t expect the film to be laugh a minute and I was anticipating satire, but the audience I sat with laughed twice during the entire 3 hours. Yet, this film has received a number of positive reviews; it is currently top of the UK box office charts

As comedy goes, satirical, black or slapstick, The Wolf of Wall Street doesn’t sit comfortably in any bracket.  Pretty much every joke was dragged out until it lost its sharpness, its cutting edge, its way.  The film also tended to lose its comedic value in relation to sex, as dragging the jokes out meant the nudity became crudely mundane instead of pointedly situational (pun intended).

Based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir of the same name, narrative focus pivots upon and around Jordan (Leonardo DiCaprio) himself.  Apart from one small section where Brechtian technique is used by DiCaprio to speak directly into the camera, there is an almost constant narration of Jordan’s thoughts, and assessments, of the various situations he finds himself in.  The Brechtian section was the one part of the film that grabbed me – it was brilliantly executed and filmed – but unfortunately, the length of the film meant that it was hard to sustain reflective detachment.  Still, I suspect reflective detachment was the order of the day as Jordan is a pretty despicable character and one I certainly failed to empathise with.  After all, despite the memoir based narrative voice telling you he’s a salesperson and a saviour, the bottom line here is once a con artist, always a con artist.

The Wolf of Wall Street depicts women in a very negative light with the exception of a few.  There is a lot of female nudity, a lot of female body parts.  There are occasions where groups of men are seen partially or fully naked, however the main focus is upon sexually available women.  Many of these are treated as sex toys, but arguably one of the ‘themes’ of this film is sexual gratification, or perhaps that should just be gratification.  The problem is it’s overdone.  I don’t need to see something repeated every few minutes to get the point.  I suspect the central theme is one of addiction; that Jordan has an addictive personality and therefore no boundaries when it comes to money, sex and drugs.  Unfortunately, rather than being a powerful moment of self-disclosure, the one touching scene between Aunt Emma (Joanna Lumley) and Jordan where this is almost discussed, becomes somewhat lost amongst the full frontal women, sexual activity and drug taking portrayed.  

One could argue the character of Jordan is presented in an unfavourable light, but I personally felt the film was self-congratulatory, for despite his awareness of how his personality functions, at no point was Jordan depicted as remorseful.  Essentially this film is about a socio-path whose main achievement in life was to use and abuse fellow human beings.  Yet Jordan is portrayed as a hero, a clever resourceful character and any satire present in this juxtaposition is lost due to how drawn out the process of presentation is.

To sum up, I felt The Wolf of Wall Street for all of its slickness and crisp digital production, would benefit from being stripped back to telling Jordan’s tale in a crisper, funnier, more succinct package.  Instead, The Wolf of Wall Street’s self-referential message and attempts at distancing its audience get lost in over exposure.
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PostSubject: Re: The Wolf of Wall Street - film review   Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:42 pm

Thanks for the review. I had seen the movie poster, but I had no clue what it was about. I thought it was a "Wall Street" kind of movie (you know, with Charlie Sheen and Micheal Douglas). I might not try to watch it then. Smile

If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
- Steven Wright
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PostSubject: Re: The Wolf of Wall Street - film review   Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:20 pm

It might be best to read some other reviews Tri as mine is one of the most negative about the film that I've read. I stand by what I say, but my perspective isn't the same as others. Most critics are loving it, but apparently in some audiences people are walking out.


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PostSubject: Re: The Wolf of Wall Street - film review   Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:22 pm

I guess it's the sort of movie that polarizes people.

If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
- Steven Wright
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PostSubject: Re: The Wolf of Wall Street - film review   Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:20 am

I've started reading the book (I haven't seen the movie yet) and I'm not liking it so far. I don't care much for the writing and the book is trying too hard to be suave and come across as the exact opposite. I've been through several chapters already but at that point I'm seriously considering putting it down as I'd rather read American Psycho or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas one more time instead.

"Growing old is inevitable but growing up is optional."
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