The Wolf of Wall Street ★★★★


Apparently there's some big debate raging right now about whether or not this film celebrates abhorrent behavior, but that's such a ludicrous notion that I'm not even going to dignify it with a rebuttal. (Juxtaposing Belfort livin' it up in prison with Chandler's schlumpy Fed on the 4/5/6* is pretty clonk-you-on-the-head, frankly.) Took me a good long while to get interested—Scorsese's moves initially seemed overly familiar, Winter's script insufficiently subtle. (McConaughey makes his scene fun, but he's playing a cautionary version of Basil Exposition.) As the film veers further and further into outrageous black comedy, however, it starts drawing real blood. Were the escalation steady and continuous, I could more readily forgive the long, slow buildup; the rhythm is more erratic than that, though, a series of insane peaks followed by comparatively moderate valleys. On first viewing, at least, I have a hard time reconciling, say, the Lemmon 714 debacle (one of the most unexpectedly lunatic sequences in Hollywood history) with Belfort's sincere testimonial to the single-mom broker he helped out with a massive salary advance—both are fantastic scenes, but they seem to belong to entirely different movies with very distinct aims (and that's viewing the latter scene oppositionally to some degree). So I'm not yet sure that Wolf of Wall Street "works," but its scabrous highs are so delirious that I'm also not yet sure how much I really care.

* I didn't see which line it was; just guessing. It reads better than "subway."