Noah Thompson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sell me this pen.
Since we're nearing the end of the 2010s, a film decade I will admit with heavy, heavy bias and recency effect and all that I believe to be my personal favorite decade of movies, I'm wanting to do a little bit of catch-up with highlights of this decade that I've missed. Whether hailed as favorites or the best, I want to fit in at least a handful before we reach January. Here's my first stop. Felt right especially with The Irishman right on the horizon. So, what did I think? Better question: Where do I begin? This is an 11/10 experience, the shiniest gold in a pile of stories from a director who makes almost nothing but gold. The way I see people talk about Goodfellas or The Godfather, that's how I think I feel about this. It's Casino, but the three hour runtime works. Scorsese realizes that the reign of the mobster and the underground criminal was no longer as fitting when exploring the world of American fraud and corruption. The modern American gangster is the man in the suit, gold watch around his wrist, driving his sports car down the road as he gets a blowjob from his wife.
Splendor, success, excess, the things we look at as the mark of the "real American man" is gorgeous from how it looks on the outside, but fucking disgusting on the inside. Never has a film left me hating the rich as much as this does. Though, if the lifestyle wasn't enticing, if it wasn't pitched as the goal for the American man, it wouldn't continue to happen. Leo gives the greatest performance of his career, and I almost don't understand how someone can look at this role and think otherwise. With, what, like five or so minutes of screen time, Matthew McConaughey also gives one of the most memorable performances I've seen from a movie maybe ever. Everyone else, no matter their role to the story and how big or small, everyone is fantastic. The writing, the pacing, the structure, this is a what an epic looks and feels like. A modern tragedy, both for a man, his nation, and perhaps humanity as a whole. We have Jordan Belforts in our corporations, in our government, swindling poor unfortunate souls everyday. Lies of profit, of your life improving, and the only person or thing that profits or improves is them. In the best world, this movie would've come out and caused mass genocide against Wall Street. In the best world. Yet, we all know this isn't the best world. People out there see this movie, they see the life of Belfort and his contemporaries, and they walk away from it thinking "I want to be that."
Ladies and gentlemen, I will be frank with you. I am an optimistic man. I want to find the good people. Yet, for the past few years, I wake up, and eventually I will see something in the news or hear something on the street or in the hallways of my campus that makes me embarrassed. I'm embarrassed to be a man, to be an American, sometimes I'm even embarrassed to be a human being. Who the fuck are we? What sort of colossal fucking mishaps had to happen where this is the golden standard of living? To everyone, to all those down on their luck in some way or another, you have the power for change. These people have won up until the present day, but they do not have to continue winning. Start an organization for good, become a teacher, get into local politics, protest, teach your children that no means no, that people aren't objects you dangle money in front of to get them to dance and beg. For whatever expectations I had with this movie, I for sure wasn't expecting an array of boisterous laughter, moments of a slack jaw, and finally, a rage to see things change in any way I can. The building is on fire. Wake up. Don't be perfect, just be decent. All things considered, in my search for the best of the decade, I may have just found it. That, or it's a contact high that's going to wear off. I'll get back to you on that. The land of opportunity.