December 30, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street

Flair Jordan

Grade: A–
Director: Martin Scorses
Starring: Leonardo DiCapiro, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau and Jean Dujardin
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 3 hr.

After a career spent exploring the mean streets of his beloved New York City, Martin Scorsese finally trains his lense on its most corrupt, nefarious byway: Wall Street. And whether motivated by guilt, revelation or inspiration, Scorsese amply compensates for previous oversights with The Wolf of Wall Street, a three-hour Grand Guignol of white-collar decadence.

In the memoir of stock swindler Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCapiro), Scorsese finds his gateway into the feral financial markets of the 1980s and 90s that ushered in the likes of Belfort and his outlaw brokerage firm, Stratton Oakmont. By day, Belfort and his disciplines peddle junk stocks onto unwitting marks. After hours, their trading floor becomes a Caligulan debach, where brokers blow off steam using profanity, prostitutes, alcohol, marching bands and dwarf-tossing. Testosterone flows freely, and hookers are ranked in descending order of quality as “blue chip,” “Nasdaq,” and “pink sheets.” And, oh, the drugs. Belfort’s likes his ludes and cocaine, but his hallucinogenic holy grail is the Lemmon 714, whose discovery features in (quite arguably) the film’s most maddcap sequence involving Belfort, his skeevy friend Donnie (Jonah Hill), a Ferrari, and juxtaposing Popeye's spinach with inhaling a vial of blow.

The ungainly core of The Wolf of Wall Street isn’t an exhaustive exposé of our bacchanalian securities market or even an engrossing biopic. This is Scorsese’s raised middle finger to the orgy of excess endemic to a privileged class that flouted while Rome nearly burned. But that protruding digit is also directed somewhere else.

The Wolf of Wall Street is the imperfect but audacious product of a seemingly younger, feistier director … or a cinematic capo di tutti capi looking to reclaim his turf. American Hustle, another Greed Decade favorite of this holiday season, has been called an homage to the 71-year-old Scorsese. But if that film is Scorsese redux, The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese 2.0.

*Originally published at

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