Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

December 30, 2013

CALLERI: 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' stirs up unexpected controversy

Niagara Gazette — “The Wolf Of Wall Street, director Martin Scorsese’s latest foray into biographical cinema, is a non-stop, pulsating adrenaline rush about Wall Street duplicity in the go-go 1990s as only Scorsese can deliver it.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives an Oscar-worthy performance as a corporate trader who fleeces those who are ripe to be fleeced; serious investors who should be smarter and suburban mooks who couldn’t be dumber, all looking for an easy road to riches. DiCaprio is over-the-top in the best way possible. He's exciting to watch.

The movie celebrates sex, drugs, and rock and roll the way Scorsese likes to do it. The film, which is based on the true story of stock manipulator Jordon Belfort, is wickedly funny and never falters in its ferocious effort to satisfy moviegoers. DiCaprio plays Belfort. It’s his fifth time working with Scorsese, the other movies being “Gangs Of New York,” “The Aviator,” “The Departed” and “Shutter Island.”

The main supporting cast is outstanding, including Jean Dujardin as a friendly Swiss banker, Margot Robbie as a beautiful woman along for the ride of a lifetime, Kyle Chandler as a straight arrow FBI investigator, and Jon Bernthal as a muscle-bound fixer. There’s also Cristin Milioti as Belfort’s first wife, Rob Reiner as his father, and Jonah Hill as his devoted and obedient right-hand man. Also in the film are Ethan Suplee, Joanna Lumley, Christine Ebersole, Fran Lebowitz, and Jon Favreau. Everything about “The Wolf Of Wall Street” is top-notch, but special praise goes to the work of long-time Scorsese editor Thelma Schoonmaker and to Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography.

The picture is a breathless adventure in wealth and excess, similar in style to Scorsese's own "Goodfellas" in terms of narration, pacing, and energy, but without the manic violence. Instead of mob paranoia and retribution, here you’ve got innocent investors becoming hurt, mired as they are in corporate malfeasance. If greed was good in Oliver Stone's "Wall Street," then greed is even better and much more fun in Scorsese's picture. The movie is three-hours long, but I never felt its length for a second. Corruption has never been this dazzling.

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