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.


OldLady Of The Hills said...

I just saw this film recently, myself. Excess is certainly the right word to describe everything about it---including the almost three hour length.
I was thinking about how almost all of Scorsese's films which take place in modern times and in the New York area ALWAYS treat women in a truly horrific way. They are used and abused and without exception---well, maybe Jordan's first wife, though we don't really see enough of her to know of she is also greedy and selfish and basically a whore---are all rather despicable, as are the men,too....But this downgrading of women seems to run through many of Scorsese's films.
I didn't realize there is a "real" Jordan Belfort till reading your post---an interesting character---but a lot to take for three hours.
Best Picture? I don't think so.

Nikki-ann said...

I haven't been to the cinema in ages and I'm not too sure on this film.

Doris said...

Someone else I know has been to see this film and I think would concur with your view of the film. Thoroughly unlikeable characters in a too long film and yet it was still captivating.

I'm not sure if this film will be on our list... I remembr the 80s!

Pat said...

Doesn't sound like a feel-good movie.
But then you could say the same about Dexter and my nightly treat is to watch another episode. However I'm told it deteriorates later.