Friday, December 27, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street- Welcome to the Family

Last night, my wife and I saw The Wolf of Wall Street. We would've saw it on Christmas Day after our family dinner, but the show sold out before we could get our tickets; everybody was clamoring over Scorsese's latest film. When we finally got to see the show a day later, The Wolf of Wall Street was still packed, and being there felt like going to another kind of family reunion, a reunion with Martin Scorsese at his house, the theatre.

Scorsese has created his own version of a
trilogy with The Wolf of Wall Street
Within the first 5 minutes of the film, my wife and I knew we were in for a treat. There were midgets being thrown around, drugs being inserted up people's asses, and a crazed office setting that we all would like to be a part of; basically, the kind of stories you'll hear from your extended family during holiday dinners. The film is three hours long, and for the most part, this maddening tone never ceases. There are too many scenes to be re-counted, so I won't try to repeat them all. All I will say is that there is not one dull moment, not one bad scene or exchange in the entire movie. It was just Scorsese, the master, at his best.

The Wolf of Wall Street is inspired by and closely related to Casino and Goodfellas. In fact, Scorsese has said that it is part of his trilogy (along with the other two) about money and greed. There were techniques in The Wolf of Wall Street that are directly from Goodfellas: DiCaprio replacing Liotta in the narrator/main star role, quick cuts, montages, etc. Also, the dynamics between DiCaprio and Hill are eerily similar to many DeNiro/Pesci collaborations. However, as far as romantic relationships go,  The Wolf of Wall Street is closer to Casino. Belfort, played by Leo, and his wife have the same mad love turned to dysfunction that we saw between DeNiro and Sharon Stone twenty years earlier.
DiCaprio gives a career defining performance as
Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street

Seeing Scorsese return to these subjects and themes for a third time was a true delight. His version of a trilogy is perfect; it's the way trilogies are intended to be, the way God wanted them. Too often, studios and audiences get caught up in wanting to have continuations of old characters and completed stories. This only leads to bad films. Scorsese, on the other hand, has avoided being dull by wrapping each of his films in different characters and in different settings and times. Instead, he explores very similar themes, which creates this familiar atmosphere that turns each film into a different sibling of the same family. Each has their different quirks, but they all come from the same place, and in many ways, all of their characters have similar fates. Going to see Scorsese at work in The Wolf of Wall Street is something that every film fan needs to do.

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