Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Hungry like the wolf

Finally, I sit down with THE WOLF OF WALL STREET and am immediately sucked in and blown away. It must be Scorsese's best in decades - taking one back to the era of TAXI DRIVER, NEW YORK NEW YORK, RAGING BULL and GOODFELLAS. For some odd reason I still have not seen CASINO, didn't like CAPE FEAR, didn't think THE DEPARTED was that wonderful and have not (yet) seen SHUTTER ISLAND, and I enjoyed THE AVIATOR much more recently than when I saw it on release. Then there's GANGS OF NEW YORK ..... the dvd has been sitting on the shelf for years. But we love Marty's MY VOYAGE TO ITALY on what Italian cinema means to him, and his music documentaries. Its great that he is as busy as ever, in his early 70s, with several projects on the go. He must be THE premier American director of his generation. 

So, THE WOLF ..... Martin Scorsese directs this true story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). From the Amerian dream to corporate greed, Belfort goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPQs and a life of corruption in the late 80s - earning him the title of "The Wolf of Wall Street". Money. Power. Women. Drugs. Temptations were for the taking and the threat of authority were irrelevant. For Jordan and his wolf pack, more was never enough.

So sayeth the blurb. Well, it plays like GOODFELLAS on acid as excess is piled on excess, the drug taking is industrial quality. We watch dazed and amazed and amused, like the scene where Jordan tries to get to his car and drive home while smashed on quaaludes, then of course nemesis is reached as the FBI start to close in ..... DiCaprio is sensational, aided by Jonah Hill, the shlub who becomes his right-hand man. Other standouts are Joanna Lumley as his wife's aunt, Jean Dujardin as the Swiss banker, Rob Reiner, Kyle Chandler, Matthew McConnaughy in a standout cameo, and more, more. Margot Robbie is just right too as Naomi, the trophy wife. That yacht ride in the storm is a zinger too ... there's practically 1,000 reviews of it on IMDB, raging from idolatory to rage about it, but love it or hate it its an American Epic. Its certainly a vast panorama of the greed and corruption which has unfolded since those heady 80s. On the negative side, it seems enamored with the alleged life story of a sociopathic, sleazeball swindler, and there is no character development - they start off sleazy and crass disgusting creeps and stay that way.
An alternative take is that its a very cleverly disguised narrative tale AS TOLD BY a con-man to us the audience. Jordan Belfort keeps embellishing his story with whores, drugs, orgies, huge mansions, enormous yachts with helipads, exploding airplanes, etc., because that is what will impress his audience. Somebody else said it was "a 3-hour fantasy concocted by a piggish frat boy on speed."
It is a stunning production, scripted by Terence Winter from Belfort's book; with a huge cast, and edited as usual by Thelma Schoonmaker, costumes by Sandy Powell - Leonardo is dressed by Armani, Marty's pal from The Band (THE LAST WALTZ) Robbie Robertson is 'executive music producer' and what a dazzler the soundtrack is with snatches of blues and rock classics by the likes of Howlin' Wolf (how appropriate) and John Lee Hooker. The three hours whiz by .... I think I want to see it again next week. Its a standout movie in a year of many standouts. 
Next we will be moving on to DALLAS BUYERS CLUB and THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, as well as discovering whats INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS ....but first more fun and games with Schrader's CAT PEOPLE and Anita Ekberg's KILLER NUN, John Water's SERIAL MOM  and Faye's BEVERLY HILLS MADAM! Does Trash get any better ... ?

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