Revered filmmaker; Martin Scorsese directs the story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). From the American dream to corporate greed, Belfort goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPOs and a life of corruption in the late 80s. Excess success and affluence in his early twenties as founder of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont warranted Belfort the title – “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Money. Power. Women. Drugs. Temptations were for the taking and the threat of authority was irrelevant. For Jordan and his wolf pack, modesty was quickly deemed overrated and more was never enough.
I was watching Channel 7’s Sunrise this morning whilst I was drinking my coffee, and their entertainment reporter was interviewing Leonardo DiCaprio about TWOWS and about how they’re hoping this movie might finally get him his first Oscar (who else didn’t realise DiCaprio has never received an oscar? Crazy) and calling it his favourite movie of 2014. When the story was over and they switched back to Kochie and what’s-her-face, Kochie was annoyed. He said he was disgusted by how Jordan Belfort, despite scamming so much money off of so many people, was still going to be earning heaps of money off of this movie. The U.S. government has confirmed that Belfort needs to continue to pay restitution at the rate of 50 percent of his gross income, however Belfort has been arguing that he is no longer obligated to comply with a payment plan because his supervised release has terminated. Government documents have confirmed that Belfort has received US$1,190,500 from the movie so far, however has only given $21,000 towards restitution.
And that’s the thing about this movie, it’s a comedy and thoroughly enjoyable, but at the heart of it it’s about a man who is very dark, full of greed and unashamed selfishness.
The Wolf of Wall Street follows the story of Jordan Belfort- a man who was convicted of crimes relating to stock market manipulation and running a penny stock boiler room- basically he started a firm which swindled rich people into buying penny stocks (shares of small public companies that trade at low prices, below $5) for really high prices, and eventually grew the company into over 1000 stock brokers issuing stocks totalling more than $1 billion in the 1990’s. And he also has a bad drug addiction problem, cheats on his wives a lot, is abusive, and pretty much a disgusting man.
You have to give props to the supporting actors in this movie: Matthew McConaughey as Mark Hanna- his performance, while short, is improvised genius; Jonah Hill as Belfort’s side-kick Donnie Azoff who we love to see stretching his acting skills, and fellow-Aussie Margot Robbie as Belfort’s second wife Naomi Lapaglia gives a hypnotising performance and her accent alone is to be commended.
There are some scenes in this movie that are obscene, morally wrong and downright disturbing- but what you can’t deny is that the way this story has been depicted- adapted from Belforts biographies The Wolf of Wall Street and Catching the Wolf of Wall Street- is raunchy, a hyperactive circus of an exuberant and unwholesome, high-flying life.
Scorsese has directed this movie from Belfort’s perspective- with DiCaprio narrating the story and speaking to the audience in the middle of scenes, it’s charismatic and dead honest, and really that was what Belfort’s gift was- he could talk, convince, and motivate. What’s more is that a lot of acting was improvised, with Dicaprio describing it as ‘organised chaos’ where they tore the script apart before they were even on set, improvised everything, and then re-improvised everything. You can feel this in the movie, with a naturalistic feel coming from the actors and the characters they played- this seems to have driven DiCaprio’s acting up a notch, as he has fully taken on his character with the highest of energy that we have seen from him in a while.
TWOWS is a satire, depicting a darker side of human nature, which is helped by the unflinching honesty from Belfort’s books. While it is long- a minute under three hours- I can’t imagine anything being cut, as everything included gives you a full idea of the unimaginable life of these criminal stock brokers, and you’ll be surprised to hear that a lot of what occurs is true. It’s like a three hour party which never drops or wavers.
This movie is different for Scorsese- for fans of his work such as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and The Departed, expect to see something different, but give it a go, because what he really has done here is executed a story with a painstaking attention to detail, drawing out the almost animalistic preying and exploitive nature of Belfort’s character.
HA: So what you think AP?
AP: While I enjoyed the movie, I thought that it wasn’t without it’s issues. This movie caused such an outcry in the US when it was first released to critics because it seems to condone this behaviour. While I don’t think the movie condones it, it certainly makes light of it. A particular scene that sticks out in my mind is when Jordan Belfort has overdosed on quaaludes and has to roll down the stairs to his car. Fast-forward a few minutes to where someone else begins choking. The audience at this stage was furiously laughing, while I sort of felt that that kind of serious situation shouldn’t be made light of.
HA: Yeah I’ve heard quite a bit from the media of criticism of Scorsese making light of some of the obscene behaviour, I have to admit though I was laughing through most of this movie, apart from a couple scenes. I agree to the choking scene- I found it more…sad than anything else. But I think what Scorsese really tried to do here was tap into that behaviour and provide a true representation of it. And really i think there a so many movies out there that show that or more violence. Some people are calling TWOWS a black comedy, which I actually agree with to an extent.
AP: If his purpose was a true representation, than I think the film would have been much darker and less audience laughter. I would have also liked to see a bit more of Jordan Belfort before he became this rich, cocky stockbroker. It glosses over that transition from 22-year old starting out to suddenly being rich and successful. I would have liked to see him develop a little more there. See him becoming seduced by Wall Street. Flirting with the temptation, so-to-speak.
HA: Yes it was like we were saying afterwards, you still don’t really understand why this guy with a good upbringing went from a biology major to this… obscene character. I really enjoyed this movie though, loved Matthew McConaughey’s character, and I loved the impulsive-craziness of it.
AP: I did enjoy him in the movie, I would have liked to see more of him and his interaction with Jordan.
HA: Final Comment is- Make sure to see the turbulent and hyperactive ride that is The Wolf of Wall Street while it’s still in the cinemas, but make sure to see an early session- it is just about three hours.
AP: Prepare to be confronted. There is nudity, drugs, sex and swearing galore.