The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street ★★★★½

"But we got away with it because we were in First Class."

One of the more outrageous stories about serial killer H.H. Holmes told in Devil in the White City concerns the time he was finally cornered by a group of business men to whom he owed large sums of money. The angry men got Holmes into a room, closed the door, and let him know they did not intend to leave until the score was settled. Hours later the men left the room smiling, laughing, shaking Holmes' hand, but with none of the money he owed them. Holmes was one charming sociopath.

Jordan Belfort may not have committed murder in his career as a stock broker/'lude-and-coke-fueled-fuck-machine, but as Scorsese presents his story, we as an audience are invited to get so close and comfortable to someone so reckless and dangerous, that I can begin to understand how the Holmes scenario is plausible. The fall of Rome set to Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning does have a certain appeal. This is just as much a movie about criminal organizations as Goodfellas, though, so as much fun and humor as there is to be had watching the exploits of hedonist frat boys with big bank accounts run amuck, there's the constant threat of things turning ugly (and they certainly do).

With all the explanatory voiceover about drugs, I'm still left with one question: What drug are Scorsese and Schoonmaker mainlining that they are able to produce a movie more energetic, lively, and thrilling than most of those made by people less than half their age? (Just kidding, I know: The drug is love. Love of their craft, love of movies, love of the stories they're telling).

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