I wrote this post about a week ago after having seen the much hyped ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ by Martin Scorsese. I was having a lazy day watching the Olympic Games – and the 3 thousands of a second that separated Dutch Koen Verweij from a gold medal on the men’s 1500m speed skating; I’ve never seen anybody look so grumpy wearing a medal before. Luckily, we went to the cinema soon afterwards, because I had been watching the Skeleton races for way too long and was getting extremely bored. Skeleton’s definitely the most boring as well as the weirdest sport included in the Olympic winter games (though curling is a close second). I hope I’m not offending any skeleton fans by saying this, but in my opinion sliding down an icy slope on a sleigh on your belly is not a sport. 😉 Anyway, one thing I think most viewers of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ can agree on, is that it is definitely not boring! In this post I just wanted to give you some of my thoughts on this film.
Firstly, this film is awesome. But I have to admit that I think my expectations might have been slightly too high when I went to see it, because the film has been so hyped. It’s nominated for 5 Oscars and many claim that this is DiCaprio’s best performance ever. Besides this, it is currently #68 on the IMDb top 250 films of all time, which is a list that usually also correlates relatively well with my opinion of films (except for the top 10).
For those that have not seen the film (not many, I suppose), the film is about the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, an American stock broker who becomes incredibly rich by both being a brilliant salesman as well as by being involved in fraud. When a stock market crash in 1987 makes Belfort unemployed, he starts his own business: Stratton Oakmont, which then grows monstrously rich. However, its extreme growth does not go unnoticed: the FBI starts keeping an eye on Belfort. I think you’ll agree that this film comes at the perfect time, when people are trying to figure out what exactly went wrong to land us in the current financial crisis. In the film, many selling techniques used by stock brokers at the time (and which I’m sure are still used) are uncovered and explained; techniques which I believe people nowadays are becoming more and more interested in and aware of.
This film is mostly just incredibly funny, because it paints an extremely vulgar and decadent picture of Wall Street in the 80s and 90s. Belfort’s employees are snorting cocaine all the time, they have prostitutes over at the office, and they have crazy parties to celebrate successes where they toss money and dwarfs (???) around. All of this is hilarious. The way it is shot is also quite clever, the way the scenes are cut and the way of filming relates to the mental state of the characters. When Belfort is on drugs the scenes don’t flow as well, whereas they’re ‘normal’ when Belfort’s sober.
About Leo: wow. He definitely gives an incredible performance as Jordan Belfort by being both obnoxious as well as extremely likable. In one scene he’s crawling over the floor, because he’s basically temporarily paralyzed by some drugs he took (he fittingly called it ‘the cerebral palsy phase’), and in many reviews I’ve read about this film this scene is being called ‘the scene of the year’. I’ve also read that this scene was mostly improvised by DiCaprio, which I have to agree is quite brilliant. Here’s the scene for your enjoyment, though it’s funnier in the context of the film 😉 :
However, I definitely wouldn’t call this DiCaprio’s strongest role. Of course he’s doing a great job, but Jordan Belfort is in my opinion not exactly a deep character to play. He doesn’t really go through much of a character development, in the sense that he more or less stays a greedy douche bag, which you can’t help but love somehow. In this sense, I would find it strange if he received an Oscar for this role. If he received it for anything, he should have received it for his work on The Aviator, Inception or Django Unchained, but I also just happen to like those films more :P.
Let’s not forget the rest of the cast, which is amazing. Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff, Belfort’s sidekick, is definitely the funniest character in the film. One line of his was particularly priceless: “I’ll tell you what: I’m never eating at Benihana again. I don’t care whose birthday it is”, which I’m going to be citing occasionally from now on :). Also, Matthew McConaughey is only on screen for 10 minutes, but makes a huge impression playing Mark Hanna, Jordan Belfort’s boss and mentor at his 1987 stock broker job. I have to say he has come a long way from playing in films like ‘The Wedding Planner’ to, for example, performing very impressively in HBO’s new series ‘True Detective’. I mean, he’s even sexier in good roles! 😀
One thing: the film is rather long. It’s 3 hours. And for a film which does not have that much of a storyline besides ‘guy gets rich, guy goes to jail’, and of which all viewers know the ending before they’ve even seen the film, this is definitely too long. Believe it or not, after 2 hours, watching people snort coke does become slightly boring. Especially towards the end, where it is clear Belfort’s been busted, the film stretches out for too long, and there is no real climax to which it all builds up.
For those who have seen the film, check out this real footage from the 1991 Hamptons beach party depicted in the film:
Also, I made a desktop wallpaper with cats on it while I was watching the Olympic Games. I used this awesome website for the picture 😛