The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street ★★½

Perhaps it’s because I had read Michael Lewis’ Liar’s Poker, a book that chronicles his tenure at Salomon Brothers in the mortgage bonds department, way back in the 80’s that The Wolf of Wall Street seems particularly well worn and stale.

While Scorsese may be trying to put a satirical spin on the overreaching greed and debauchery, personally, I didn’t find it all that funny. In fact, many of the overly repeated antics of sex, booze, drugs, and crawling around on your stomach because you’re out of your mind on downers seemed more akin to something you’d find in The Hangover rather than one of Marty’s older, smarter, satires like The King of Comedy.

The casting of Jonah Hill, who aside from a great turn in Moneyball is an actor I have little use for, seems to reinforce the ‘Get Him to the Greek’ mentality that Scorsese looks to have been reaching for. Compared to his fantastic outing as Calvin Candie in Django Unchained, DiCaprio just seems like he’s performing dramatic gymnastics. The plethora of greed motivational speeches to his well paid but vacuous adoring staff came across as nothing more than picture perfect Oscar clips. What I understand least is the praise sung for Margot Robbie. Nice attributes; passable Brooklyn accent, but what else? I almost wanted to throw something at the screen during the ‘don’t touch mommy’ scene. Even Matthew McConaughey, who after seeing several of his recent films I thought could do no wrong, seems like he’s mailing in his small performance.

I’m sure many will defend, even laude, The Wolf of Wall Street’s misogyny and complete moral decay as brilliant satire and critique. I won’t be among them. My take is that it is tired, cheap, exploitive, and the worst crimes of all; mostly un-funny and boring. And it’s WAY too long.

Up to and including Gangs of New York, I thought that Martin Scorsese was a god; a true master of modern cinema. Then something changed. Perhaps it was his lust for the golden statue, but from The Aviator on, nothing he’s produced holds a candle to his earlier work. In my opinion, anyway. Such a shame.

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