Sunday, 19 January 2014
wolf of wall street
We went along to see The Wolf of Wall Street on Saturday evening. It's a film about excess. The Leonardo di Caprio lead character of Jordan Belfort leads us through boiler room scams making money initially from penny shares.
When I say excess, everything in the whole movie is writ large. There's expletives beyond count, partying that would fit well into scenes from those hangover movies, snow drifts of cocaine and bottles of the last Quaaludes left on the planet.
The sexual politics are (deliberately?) very dated and I did see a few people walk out of the cinema during the movie. It wouldn't pass the Bechdel test, for sure: many females; mainly love interests; or prostitutes; main roles involve men/sex/child rearing; often not fully clothed. Oh and did I mention the dwarf tossing?
Add noisy rows of leery barrow-boy traders at Stratton Oakmont extracting large sums of money from people ill-equipped to deal with share trading.
Pump and dump the chop stock, as the scam theory goes.
Buy the cheap share illegally, inflate its price, sell it to the ignorant and then sell your own now inflated price shares before the price tumbles. Easy money in the unregulated '80s.
Interestingly, we don't get to see the actual punters, except in the sense that the early recruits to the firm could have all been punters themselves. Tire salesmen*, furniture shop workers. Maybe it needed a postman as well.
The style of the movie remanded me of Goodfellas with lead character Jordan narrating his point of view, sometimes to camera, and even a drug addled scene reminiscent of the helicopter part when Henry Hill is cooking the ziti.
There's a helicopter in this movie too, at one time parked badly by di Caprio and later receiving a Titanic fate. Like everything else in the film, you just know that a boat trip from a glassy sun drenched Portofino to the 200km distant Monaco can only have one type of weather. Excess. Oh yes. 100 foot waves that would do the North Sea proud.
But that's to quibble. And they could always throw a party on the rescue boat.
I enjoyed the film for it's melodramatic portrayal of the excess. There were a few extemporised scenes that ran too long and could have sliced some time from the around 3 hour run time. There wasn't a lot to like about the di Caprio character, whose real-life counterpart makes a small appearance at the end of the movie.
It also illustrated the worrying sales culture trend to extract money from punters at all times. What's the business being bought or sold? Don't know, don't care. Gimme your money. Want to cash in? Don't care. Gimme some more of your money.
Boiler room scams persist to this day. They've just got the internet and ACD (Automatic call dialling) to ramp them up from those early days.
Oh, and the real Jordan Belfort to help get the sales lines right.