The Wolf Of Wall Street

Those eager faces belong to Kiwis, I believe.

Henry knew what he was doing. He may have been a kid when his life with the mob began but he very quickly made the choice, the informed choice, to continue down that path. He had as much contempt for the average Joe as Jordan does. But the thing about Goodfellas? Those first two acts are designed to draw you in, to entertain you, to woo you as the moblife wooed Henry. The movie even gets you to like more hardened, dead-eyed criminals like Jimmy Conway and Tommy (Joe Pesci’s Tommy is way more of a monster than anyone in The Wolf of Wall Street).

Then we have Act 3, when all the trappings of moblife are stripped bare. When the studio was screening Goodfellas for audiences everyone seemed to love the movie until Act 3. All the test cards came back with comments about how the end of the film seemed to switch focus, change tone, make them uncomfortable. And of course, Scorsese said that was the entire point.

That’s why I said before The Wolf of Wall Street is like the 3rd Act of Goodfellas spun out to a crazy breaking point. We’re never really drawn into Jordan’s life. He seems like a fuckwad from the start. He’s not trying to be relatable.

The movie doesn’t waste any time putting all the nastiness of his lifestyle on screen. I mean, the narrative basically starts with him snorting coke from the rectum of a prostitute. It doesn’t get more in your face and nasty than that. The Wolf of Wall Street is showing all the transgressions and none of the redemption or punishment. Triggercut said there is no character arc for Jordan, and he’s spot on, it was intentional. I haven’t read the book, and don’t intend to, but apparently Jordan wrote a redemptive arc for himself, and Scorsese and company wisely left that stuff out, because it’s BS.

There is no redemption for these people. Also no punishment. Just like the wide world of high finance and white color crime. I think the devastating commentary, at least for me, comes from the fact that there are people out there right now, entire banks, investment/brokerage firms, corporations of all colors, perpetuating these crimes. The schemes are way more sophisticated and “above board” but subprime mortgage backed securities, default credits swaps, algorithmic trading, are all after the same thing: taking money from your pocket, and putting into theirs.

Check your scruples at the door.

Jordan could be giving his seminars for any number of nationalities, but that doesn’t change what I see as a depiction of a very American form of greed. I read that end scene as a metaphor for all the many potential Jordan Belforts out there, hungry for the wealth creation he promises. They are also a stand in for us, the movie going audience.

Yup, and that’s why I was sitting there mostly thinking “Why am I watching this?”. What am I supposed to get out of it? Here’s a bunch of scummy people, watch them be scummy?

I need more than that. I KNOW people like that exist, it’s not like the movie is enlightening anyone by showing them something they never knew about. There’s this movie “In the Company of Men”, and it involves a couple of guys who are real pieces of crap, yet that movie was fascinating, so it’s not like I can’t tolerate terrible people being the focal point of a movie.

Did Travis Bickle?

If Jordan realized overnight that he’s the terrible person the movie spends three hours showing him to be, it’s a cheesy redemption story instead of a satire of runaway excess and acquisition, and the vapidness and boredom it eventually instills on those who make it their only goal in life. (Whether it’s a good satire is a different question entirely, though as Scott says below, him not being redeemed or it showing him getting caught is sorta the point too.)

Edit: It’s also a comedy, so I’m not sure if it’s intended to be a meditation on the soul of Jordan Belfort.

I think In the Company of Men does something different, it being more about misogyny and men’s power over women. It’s also easier to take, despite the brutal nature of the scheme, because there is remorse on the part of one of the guys. And while personally I found that film to be a little too on the nose – crappy guy that shows no remorse rises in the world and the guy who has scruples has a mental breakdown – one of the perpetrators does get punished. There is some moral payback.

With The Wolf of Wall Street I think you’re on the right track, you know people like that exist, you’re an informed moral person who would never get dragged into the movie’s shameless morass, but weren’t there moments of actual comedy? Where you found yourself laughing? Weren’t you a tad bit tantalized by Margot Robbie? Or maybe the cars? Or that fancy house? Not the lifestyle per se, but perhaps the trappings of wealth and power?

In the Company of Men keeps you at arm’s length the entire time because (and I remember when it came out there were actual people championing the shameless behavior of those guys, WTF!?) what those guys are doing is just so debased and monstrous.

The Wolf of Wall Street partly draws you in with the comedy and excess. Or at least it tries to. And even if the charms it offered were ineffectual for you I think the larger point of the film, that there ARE people out there drawn to this kind of materialism and wealth at all costs, is still salient.

What if the movie realizes that Jordan Belfort isn’t much of a character to focus the movie on and instead gives us a lot more of Mrs. Belfort–who does seem interesting–instead?

Does Travis Bickle change? Absolutely he does. He’s crazy when the movie starts. While you can point to “excess” as the analogue to “dangerously psychopathic” between the two characters, I think the difference is in the nuance. Bickle is interesting. His twisted motivations between Betsy and saving Iris make him a dynamic and interesting (if unpleasant in the extreme) character.

And the “it’s a comedy” dismissal of this rings a bit empty. I laughed a lot at this movie, but eventually I felt like it was repetitive, empty, and overlong.

I love that Scorese movies still inspire these type of conversations, don’t see much of this over in the American Hustle thread ; )

Bickle is crazy when the movie ends, too. If not spotted by the secret service he would have killed the Senator instead of the pimps. And whose to say who he’ll kill next?

EDIT: Bickle’s redemption is false.

This movie was funny, both in dialogue as well as physical comedy. It wasn’t funny enough though, and didn’t have the pacing, to get by as a comedy.

To continue with the Taxi Driver comparisons others are using, I saw that Travis was mentally ill and felt bad for him because of it. I saw his life, such as it was, and that generated empathy. I cared enough about this character to want to know how things turn out for him. Also, I didn’t not see that ending coming(him being a hero in the eyes of the public). He was never a good guy, but he did seem to have good intentions. Back then lots of couples went to watch porn, Deep Throat had made that a sort of fad. How was he to know she wouldn’t be into it, considering his lack of social skills?

Wolf of Wall Street chooses to jettison anything like that. The character is a deliberate asshole. Who cares what becomes of him? If he ‘wins’, what of it? If he loses, how does that change the value of what I’ve seen? It doesn’t matter how it turns out, since the story has nothing to say. Besides, who didn’t see that ending coming a mile away? I remember the public backlash against ‘country club prisons’ from a couple of decades ago. Finally, he had no goals other than accumulating money, once he did that the story died. There’s nowhere to go with it, if that’s the entirety of your main character. There was no rooting interest for me in anything else since there was no anything else to root for or against.

In the Company of Men is one of my favorite movies, so I have to jump in and say that the misogyny is really only a means to an end. I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s really about how Aaron Eckhart’s character manipulates and screws over Matt Malloy’s character.

Holy hell that’s a great reading of it, that never occurred to me before…

I saw this last night and enjoyed it (perhaps more than I should have.) I stopped on my way home to buy my wife flowers, to cleanse the stench of these loathsome characters from my life.

I just saw this today and loved it. I found it genuinely quite funny, and I came away wishing it had actually been longer. I could totally see how the lack of any real sympathetic characters could be an issue for some, but it’s never been a problem for me, and the subject matter is something that intrigues me, so that helped too.

Had a blast with the first half of the movie, but thought the second one was a drag. Once the credits rolled I still felt entertained overall, but also slightly annoyed about the stuff that could have been cut or should have been trimmed. For instance, his speeches went on for too long for me. The shouting scene in the parking lot with Donny and “Rathole” felt like it went on for 10 minutes. He’s a great sales person and motivational speaker that can fire up a crowd. I get it. Move on. Of course, it all comes down to preferences - one of the friends I went with disliked the first half and really enjoyed the second. Liked DiCaprio’s and Rob Reiner’s performances, found Jonah Hill ok, but still within the range of characters he usually plays. Wish McConaughey’s part was slightly bigger than it was. Margot Robbie’s (Naomi) acting seemed a bit flat. (And no, I don’t think that was because of her character.)

I finally watched this last night. I love Scorsese and am glad I saw it, but overall it felt like a rough draft of a decent Scorsese film. Just trimming it down from 3 hours to maybe 2:15 or 2:20 would have made it better. There were some great scenes (like the first penny stock sales call–I think Scorsese was the chump on the phone there), but I felt like I was getting the same sort of thing over and over again–another microphone sales pep talk, another quaalude scene–without some other background material to balance it out and bind it together. Maybe a little more from the FBI agent, more from Donnie, more from the wife’s perspective.

It was like drinking a 20 oz draft of fully hopped IPA poured into a glass full of dry hops while eating hops mousse dusted with powdered hops. Or sipping cask strength Laphroaig through a straw crafted from bones recovered from a bog body. I guess that was the point, but if so, we could have gotten that with a running time closer to two hours.

I just saw the first 30 minutes of this. Wow, what a great start. At first they make you hate the guy, and then they flash back to his humble beginnings. That lunch with Matthew McConaughey, how long was that sequence? That was fucking brilliant. And then his sales job at the penny brokerage? And the introduction to Jonah Hill’s character. So good. I can’t wait to see more of this movie tomorrow, because it’s fucking excellent so far. Tomorrow’s the last day it will be on Netflix though, so I have to find time to finish it somehow.

Did a little quick Googling and to my utter shock the douchebag paid a pittance of his earnings from the movie toward the restitution he owes his victims.

Somehow I had thought I had already seen this, but I had not. Until yesterday.

I didn’t really find much meaning in the film; not much to think about. Everything appeared to me to be pretty obvious. Aside from a few most excellent scenes of dark comedy, I don’t think I’m going to remember this for a long time.

That said, holy shit, what a wild ride! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.

If anything, it just underlined the current phenomenon of a certain segment of our society and their worship of the ultra-rich, and makes me wonder just how many folks are out there that really, really want to be rich, and will literally do whatever it takes to get there. And thinking about that depressed me, because there appear to be far more of them than I had thought. What percentage of America are sociopaths?

I don’t want this to be a political post though, so I’ll stop there. But that was my immediate take-away.

It was set in the 90s. Things are much better now.