Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5
Leo Dicaprio gives an unforgettable performance as Jordan Belfort, the real life broker who rose from middle class “pond scum” errand boy at LF Rothchild to create his own empire at Stratton Oakmont, a high class name where he can teach other middle class millionaire wannabees to sell shit (aka stocks) to the greedy clients who don’t know any better. In one of the best scenes of the film, in fact of any film, his mentor, played wondrously by Matthew McConaghay, schools him that the point is not to increase the clients’ wealth but to increase his wealth by pushing the clients to keep making deal after deal, thereby generating COMMISSIONS for the broker. Jordan learns fast, and jumps into penny stocks where the commissions are much more, with much more opportunity to skim. This 3 hour film takes its time in seeing how these ravenous, mostly testosterone fueled, sales folks get pysched up for the game, much like a high school football team, except this is fueled by coke and hookers (well, unlike most high school football teams). Jonah Hill is fantastic as his partner in crime. The is a Scorcese film of course, with a voiceover like Goodfellas; in fact, with a protaganist like Ray Liotta’s character in Goodfellas, who comes from the middle class to strike it rich and goes out of control with his drugs, women and most of all unstoppable lust for the game. The downfall is also fascinating, with an unforgettable, and hysterical, scene of Jordan and Jonah taking too many qualudes and then trying to make some quick decisions. A highlight for me was the newcomer, Margot Robbie (an Aussie with a believable Long Island accent), who believably stuns Jordan when he first lays his eyes on her, and of course, sets his mind to have her as one of his prize possessions. She never falls into caricature as a one dimensional jewelry obsessed bimbo, and in some ways serves as the audience’s point of view as Jordan spirals down.
I don’t think it’s among Scorcese’s top 3 films, or maybe even top 5, but it’s fun as hell and better what most other directors can do on their best day.
PS, for a sobering insightful perspective from the daughter of one of Belfort’s cohorts, read this: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/12/an_open_letter_1.php
Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5
This is great film making if not a great film. Scorcese is fearless in the choices he makes and he gets the most out of his cast. DiCaprio is definitely deserving of an academy award nomination and it wouldn’t surprise me if Jonah Hill gets a nomination for the second year in a row. He’s not just a funny man, he can really act.
I read the letter in the link that Bill included and I came away with a different view then the letter writer. I didn’t view this as glorifying Belfort and his cohorts as they came across as pretty despicable, screwed up, selfish and sad characters (while admittedly they had a good time along the way). As Belfort narrated the movie I guess this took more of his view of the activities and was not supposed to be a portrayal of actual events as EVERYONE at his firm (including the women) seemed to get caught up and approve of the debauchery going on around them (drugs, sex and throwing little people is frowned upon where I work).
I read that the initial cut for the film was 4 hours! Even at 3 hours this movie definitely could have been tighter and shorter. While I didn’t need it this movie did remind me to check the RunPee app on my phone before the movie stated so I would be prepared. I think Bill originally recommended this app and it is a worthwhile app to have. In addition to letting you know slow parts in the movie in case you need a break it also lets you know if you should stick around at the end of the movie due to any added scenes at the end of the credits.
Definitely not his best but definitely worth seeing if you like Scorsese.
Here’s Margot Robbie as a service to our male readers: