Valdosta Daily Times

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January 1, 2014

Movie Review: ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ is howling good

VALDOSTA — “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Biography/Comedy: 2 hours, 59 minutes)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, and Margot Robbie

Director: Martin Scorsese

Rated: R (Profanity, crude humor, violence, drug and alcohol usage, strong sexual content and graphic nudity. Caution: this is not for those under 18.)

Movie Review: True story of Jordan Belfort is the basis for this uniquely rendered tale by legendary director Scorsese. Belfort (DiCaprio) starts his fortune by selling penny stocks in the late 1980s. He would eventually rise to a wealthy stockbroker involved in illegal trading, drugs, booze, sex, women and money. Belfort and his business associates are addicted to things. They are making money and living high, but their standards of decency are low. Belfort and his associates’ days may be numbered. The FBI is watching.

A fine line exists between creative and crazy. A more seasoned Scorsese walks that fine line with “The Wolf of Wall Street,” a comical adaptation of a real Wall Street mogul’s life. If anybody other than Scorsese had directed this film, it would have an NC-17 rating. Parts of this film are pure porn or other perverse moments.

Anyone with a moral center sitting in this audience should find some of the crude moments repulsive. This is the genius of Scorsese. He wants you to see how disgusting these people are. In an Occupy Wall Street manner, Scorsese portrays Wall Street as a place of greed, corruption, illegal drug usage and sexual promiscuity. Scorsese and writer Terence Winter (television’s “The Sopranos,” 1999) wants to show just how depraved their characters are. They succeed.

Again, these characters are very crude. They have sex, use drugs and constantly commit unethical acts against people. The problem is that their antics go over the top. Moreover, this three-hour movie shows these people’s deviant behavior throughout the runtime. The attempt was to show that these people do not change, even when their circumstances dictate they should. These people are addicts. They cannot stop. Once more, Scorsese, et al, achieve their goal.

That is great, but three hours to show this is 45 minutes more than needed. The problem is that Scorsese goes overboard, although the comedy is plentiful.  

A plus is the acting. DiCaprio is superb, but he is superior with over-the-top performances. See his performance in “Revolutionary Road” (Director Sam Mendes, 2008). He is Oscar-worthy at least for a nomination. Jonah Hill and others also provide good performances, but this is DiCaprio’s show.  

The Scorsese-DiCaprio team has produced some good films: “Shutter Island” (2010), “The Departed” (2006), “The Aviator” (2004), and “Gangs of New York” (2002). “The Wolf of Wall Street,” like the latter three, is powerful. It is also lengthy and over-blown like many of Scorsese’s films, exaggerated character studies.

“Wolf” is lengthy but never boring. However, it does test other limits, such as audiences’ ability to handle perverse scenes continuously. Moviegoers might want to avoid taking a priest, preacher, rabbi, monk or imam to see this. It is not for the timid. This is a Scorsese creativity unbound and gratuitously fashioned.

Grade: B- (This irreverent wolf is howling mad but intriguingly amusing.)

 

“Justin Bieber’s Believe” (Music/Documentary: 1 hour, 32 minutes)

Starring: Justin Bieber, Scooter Braun, and Usher Raymond

Director: Jon M. Chu

Rated: PG (Brief language and mild thematic material)

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