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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street Review: Ludefellas.

Talking about this movie is a struggle for a couple of reasons. One, it feels like there's too much ground to cover for a single review. Two, it seems like when I really think about it, there isn't much to talk about at all.

It's the same Scorsese shtick you've seen before, but different. A entire film's worth of material is covered in it's first 40 minutes alone, yet it seems to repeat itself two more times before the end... but differently. Half of me wants to call it a complete waste of time, half of me wants to call it a masterpiece. It's the most effective piece of manic film making I've ever seen. Except for the first 20 minutes, the entire film is paced like the coke sequence from Goodfellas. Does that sound exhausting? It should, because it is.

But it's a good kind of exhausting. Because it's just so charming, it felt like it was always two steps ahead of me. Say there's a scene with DiCaprio sniffing cocaine out of a hooker's butt hole with a straw (there is). In the back of my head I'm over it "yeah I guess that's kinda funny in a schlocky, desperate kind of way" I think to myself. But Scorsese knows I'm in that head space and adds just a little something that brings the visual punchline together and suddenly I'm laughing the loudest of anyone in the theater.

It's 3 hours of that, over and over. DiCaprio is coning the rich and poor alike with phoney stock bids and eventually sets the tone for the next decade of wall street trading. He uses that capital to land a trophy wife, a mansion on the most valuable real estate in America, and to fund a crippling addiction to a sleeping pill discontinued in the early 80's. He's so rich he was on drugs that didn't exist anymore!

I'd like to think there isn't a shirt that can make me hate someone instantly... but there it is.

This is the Dicaprio show, for sure, but a standing army of bit players get some of the spotlight too. Jonah Hill is the creepy sidekick and he kills it. Some of the more improvised scenes drag with him, but it's crazy how skeevy and adorable he is all at once. Also, Margot Robbie makes the most of her 20 some-odd minutes of screen time by owning every single second of it.

She's got the kind of screen presence you can't teach, and I'm not just talking about the her scalding good looks. On paper her role as the second wife goes from being naive arm candy to half-hearted landscaper. Not a whole hell of a lot for her to work with. But the more I think about her choices, the more I realize she's playing a lot more than she's getting played. Which is kind of awesome. But sadly there's no three dimensional female character within a square mile of this movie, but it's not her fault.

Does this film do justice to the reality of the real wolf's reign of life wrecking selfishness? I can't say, his daughter has some choice words for us viewers, and they're worth reading from what I saw. But what I can say is this is Scorsese's best movie in  well over a decade and it's extended quaalude overdose sequence is worth ten bucks on it's own. It's great, insanely repetitive, and if you give it enough time it'll give you one hell of a contact high.

Is Mob City smart, boring or... hell I don't know, Jay what do you think?

1 comment :

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