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Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street



"Sell me this pen."

How courageous of Martin Scorsese to more or less remake Caligula and turn it into an Oscar caliber blockbuster called The Wolf of Wall Street. Based on the memoir by Jordan Belfort, Leonardo DiCaprio portrays Belfort in a bravura performance tracking Belfort's real-life rise to riches as a stockbroker in the late 1980s and early 1990s, his rampant hedonism from sex and drug addiction, and his ultimate fall and imprisonment for his criminal activities and utter foolishness. The depravity Scorsese depicts - and some say glorifies gleefully - throughout the three hour running time of The Wolf of Wall Street is appalling. As they get wealthier by selling pink chip stocks to blue chip investors, DiCaprio and his sleazy friends, fellow stockbrokers he recruited from his childhood connections including an odious Jonah Hill and a street thug slimeball Jon Bernthal, engage in constant pill popping, orgies with prostitutes, snorting cocaine off various bodily orifices, and my favorite, using midgets as cannonballs in the office. This is the stuff people think Tony Stark does but he actually doesn't do. (Or maybe he used to before he became Iron Man.) 

As he gets richer and more brazen, DiCaprio predictably eschews his patient wife for a gorgeous new trophy wife, Margot Robbie, but, constantly high as he is, DiCaprio is no wizard between the sheets like he is in the stock market. DiCaprio goes all out as Jordan Belfort; in particular, a sequence where he suffers the "cerebral palsy phase" of doing quaaludes, crawls to his Lamborghini, and crashes it is spectacular. But ultimately, what is the point of The Wolf of Wall Street? To what grand purpose does Scorsese apply his peerless filmmaking powers? What do we learn after three hours of watching DiCaprio and his buddies making complete asses of themselves? Do we care one iota about Jordan Belfort? What the fuck is the point of all of this? Belfort's company predictably falls under federal investigation, and DiCaprio is ultimately arrested and imprisoned. We could all see that coming a mile away, even if DiCaprio and his repugnant friends are too stupid, arrogant, and high to. Though a gifted salesman and motivator, Jordan Belfort's life is smoke and mirrors, the mirrors being a convenient surface to cut and snort blow from. One thing's a solid bet, Jordan Belfort would have called Jay Gatsby a fucking pussy.