The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese At His Best

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Since a colleague of mine wrote an official review for the film on my site, film-addict.com, I get to come here and dish my take on the film.   There will be no rating, info or trailer.  Just the plot and my take on a new film.  A Dose of Buffa movie special if you will.   My review of The Wolf of Wall Street.

For more movie news, reviews and sophisticated take on the world of cinema, head over to my site, film-addict.com.  I hope you enjoyed this Dose of Buffa special movie review.

“Multimillionaire by 26.  Convict by 36.”

SETUP-Name any legendary Scorsese flick and it features a narration that creates the spine of the film.  The Wolf of Wall Street follows that to the tee here with Leonardo DiCaprio providing the life lesson of stock broker shark maniac Jordan Belfort, a real life tycoon who bleed money from regular folk and corporations for years before going up in a puff of macho smoke.   Here, I provide my take on a movie that I carried great expectations to, and left feeling transported.

MY TAKE-Scorsese’s latest is a wildly intoxicating true story that gains relevance due to the involvement of Belfort with the film and to the truly electric performances from the cast.  One of the least mentioned strengths of Marty’s movies are the veins of brutally funny comedy that run through them.  He hasn’t fully explored it since his earlier work, but in the Wolf, he puts it on the center stage for us to admire and get lost in.   This is a 3 hour drug induced bender that you will get swallowed up by.   While it isn’t for the faint of heart, Wolf takes you on a thrill ride that has humor, balls, guts, and brains.   In order to clearly break the brilliance of this film down level by level, I will provide you with a list of reasons why this film is worth seeing over other worthy contenders such as American Hustle, Out of the Furnace and Inside Llewyn Davis.  

1.)The performance of leading man Leonardo DiCaprio.   There isn’t a smarter actor working in the business at the moment.   Since 2002, the man hasn’t missed a beat and by his side the entire time has been Scorsese.   The duo are a match made in storytelling heaven, and this marks their finest collaboration.   It beats The Departed based solely on the true story behind the madness.  And DiCaprio takes the filthy role and runs with it.  As great as the entire cast is, the film belongs to DiCaprio at all times. This character isn’t unlike some of his previous work, but has signature blends of crazy all to his own.   Leo’s magic is sitting there on screen without any prosthetic or supreme weight loss and becoming these characters in front of our eyes nearly by osmosis.  It’s a spectacular performance and one that should garner an Oscar nomination.   He has given nothing but amazing performances since the first Scorsese film he did(Gangs of New York) and the risk, stakes and expectations keep climbing and it’s almost as if DiCaprio has to keep doing this to make it worthwhile.  Belfort is a decrepit law breaking drug addict bastard, but DiCaprio keeps your attention with the depth at which he travels to bring the man’s world wind life back to the big stage.  He also handles narrating duties as good as if not better than Ray Liotta did in Goodfellas.  You never know where he is going next or how he will get there, but the actor has us hooked, like the drugs Belfort spends 85 percent of the film snorting up his nose or tossing down his throat.  It’s ballsy, go for broke and completely insane.  And it’s awesome.

2.)Scorsese and his magic.  If it isn’t the mad as hell stock broker depiction, it’s the majestic confidence that he works with from behind the camera.   An attention to detail filmmaking freak, you can feel and hear Marty all over this flick.  Watching the broker scenes, it’s like watching lions fighting over raw meat in a den.  If Mad Men turned regular ad men into rock stars of the 1960’s, Scorsese paints these brokers as the kings of the 1980’s and 90’s.    He picks the right music, stages the scene just right, and isn’t afraid to be a little more outrageous than the source material.   He is a legend because he directs like one and doesn’t waste our time.

3.)Jonah Hill will be nominated for his work here as Belfort’s second in command and clinically insane Donnie Azoff.   A well known comedy guy, Hill is an underrated actor, even after nabbing a nomination for Moneyball.  His work here involves a darker brand of comedy than he has ever done and he handles it like a pro.  Wearing fake teeth, working a NYC accent and walking with the abbreviated confidence of an awkwardly built made man, Hill fully inhabits the troubled Azoff, who was also on set to help with the prep for the character.

4.)Terrence Winter deserves the Oscar for adapted screenplay.   There are so many sequences that are award worthy.   From the speeches of Belfort, to a Quaalude induced scene of hilarity involving DiCaprio and Hill that will get anybody laughing to a tense faceoff between DiCaprio and co-star Kyle Chandler.  Winter, head writer on The Sopranos and creator/writer of Boardwalk Empire, knows this territory very well.   Bad men doing evil deeds and painting their lives with the riches they steal and covet.  It’s a mad world and Winter is made to write about it.   He and Scorsese worked hard to bring Boardwalk back to life, and they soak themselves in Belfort’s tale to get it right.  Winter’s script is fantastic and deserves attention.

5.)Matthew McConaughey keeps his unbeatable streak alive here with a brief yet pivotal and completely hilarious part as Belfort’s mentor and Darth Vader father like escort to the dark side, Mark Hanna.  In three scenes, McConaughey makes a strong attempt at stealing the film but he takes all of his scenes, including one atop a skyscraper where he lays down the jungle like tactics of brokerage to the wet behind the ears yet ambitious Jordan.   McConaughey has become so adept at tweaking his Southern charm just enough to give his characters a little more of an edge.  If he is nominated for this and Dallas Buyers Club, I won’t dispute it because of what he is able to accomplish in such little screen time.  DiCaprio and Hill are amazing but have the entire 3 hours to roll around in it.   MM spends about 8 minutes here and floors you.  Well done, and just keep on working there Lone Star.

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6.)Jon Bernthal deserves more work.  His supporting work here as a key pawn in the Belfort enterprise is funny, terrifying, real, and most of all, memorable.  Kudos to him for pulling it off.   He did his best to pick up dead weight material in this month’s Grudge Match and helped enliven the tale of Los Angeles gangsters on TNT’s Mob City, but here he is in his comfort zone playing a man whose testosterone count was only outran by his loyalty.

7.)The soundtrack is electric, with the multiple genres being worked into the film but blues and rock as the usual dominating sounds in a Scorsese film.  Only Quentin Tarantino laces his film with more fitting music.

8.)As noted, the involvement of Belfort and others here helps the plot and makes sure the book doesn’t get lost in the film.   There’s real teeth to this story because of the time period Belfort dominated and the effect he had on the world of stock after his fall.   I strongly suggest picking up the book this film is taken from and giving it a few reads.   Love or hate the guy, but respect the fact that he is a self made man and successfully(at least to certain degree) beat the system until his own greed swallowed him whole.

9.)The breakout star here is the lovely Margot Robbie, an Australian actress who rocks a Brooklyn accent and steals a few scenes of her own on tenacity and looks alone.  Scorsese always installs his films with a strong female character and playing Belfort’s main lady here, Robbie burns a hole in your memory with her oatmeal skin and painful beauty and impresses you with her ability to hold her own opposite DiCaprio at the top of his game.  A scene near the end of the film where everything starts to come loose sees the actress go through the entire range of human emotion and it’s sight to see.  Her work isn’t Oscar worthy, but it’s worth remembering.

10.)The film isn’t without a few flaws.  The length does wear on you at times and a few cuts could have been made.  The excess of the drug usage was probably real but it also gets kind of old by the 2 hour mark.  These little kinks don’t leave a dent in this Wolf’s armor.  There aren’t a lot of characters to feel fond of in this flick but if there is one it is Chandler’s FBI agent, who gets a nice ode in the last couple of scenes.  Scorsese doesn’t pull any punches here and it doesn’t always work.  However, the film is still a brilliant must watch thrill ride that will have you laughing at the depravity of these characters and thinking about it afterwards because it really did happen and the end of the film circles right back to the beginning in fine fashion.

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Photo Credit-(collider.com)

The Wolf of Wall Street is filmmaking at a grand level, and I expect all involved to be nominated.   Whatever flaws it carries are outdone by the fearless work of Scorsese, DiCaprio, Hill, MM, and Winter.  This filmmaking at a high level and the rare 3 hour film that can be enjoyed on multiple trips to the theater.    Some stories are tailored towards a certain filmmaker and crew.    Wolf reminds you why even movies about the most criminally flawed and depraved people can still create magic if they fall into the right hands.  With Scorsese and DiCaprio on board, The Wolf of Wall Street is a wild trip worth taking.

For more Film-Addict movie reviews, go this page.  http://film-addict.com/news-and-reviews/a-dose-of-buffa

For Landon Burris’ take on Wolf, check it out here.  http://film-addict.com/news-and-reviews/a-dose-of-buffa/item/2299-the-wolf-of-wall-street

____

Dan Buffa is the co-creator, administrator and writer for the movie website, film-addict.com. He also writes for the local blog United Cardinal Bloggers in addition to Arch City Sports and also writes for his personal blog, http://www.doseofbuffa.com.   He is a STL born and raised writer with a need to inform and the ability to pound out 1,000-1,500 word pieces with ease.  When he isn’t writing or drinking coffee, he is spending time with his wife and son in South City.  Follow him at @buffa82 on Twitter and reach him for thoughts, comments and general feedback at buffa82@gmail.com.

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Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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