The Wolf of Wall Street
Back from my long sabbatical, and what better way to bring the reviews back than with a Martin Scorcese film?
In the late 1980's, greed-obsessed stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) sets up a boiler room to sell penny stocks to unsuspecting investors. After being motivated to pursue his dream of greed by his first boss, Mark Hanna, (Matthew McConaughey) Jordan recruits Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) to set up his own firm: Stratton Oakmont. Through the ridiculous commissions he makes off each penny stock sold through his own firm, Belfort's wealth increases as exponentially as does his raging drug habit throughout the 1980's and into the 1990's.
A lot has been made about the film and its controversial subject matter including the unlimited usage of drugs and rampant sexuality. While this film does provide heavy doses of both, it also is a solidly funny dark comedy in what can best be described as, labeled online: "Scarface for douchebags".
At three hours, including credits, does the film feel longer than it needs to be? Yes. Martin Scorcese is a master storyteller, which this film continues to prove, but also, after a while, the film does become repetitive in it's showcasing of Jordan's excess. Editor Thelma Schoonmaker does edit the film to keep the pacing well maintained, but a story like this really doesn't need to have the running time that it does.
Leonardo DiCaprio is an actor who gets better as his career progresses. Though I am not sure this is his best role, my personal preference being The Departed, this is a powerful performance that only few actors could have pulled off as well as Leonardo DiCaprio does. Jonah Hill is solid, though his character seems to come and go only when the plot needs to, likewise FBI Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) who begins snooping into Jordan's firm and the legality of it.
Lastly, Matthew McConaughey's Mark Hanna shows up early and only for a brief time. Mark takes Jordan under his wing and gives him all the information required to be a millionaire: namely a reliance on cocaine. The small role is fun and a very enjoyable cameo brought forth by Matthew McConaughey, who continues to showcase himself as an actor who is continuously getting better. See Killer Joe or look at all the accolades he is receiving for his work in Dallas Buyer's Club to understand what I mean.
Is this Martin Scorcese's best film ever? Honestly, no. There are some problems with the film: length and a somewhat unfocused story being the main culprits. Is it the best film of the year? Again, no. There are films released in 2013 that I felt were better overall. Is this Martin Scorcese still near the top of his game? Absolutely. The Wolf of Wall Street may not be the best film of the year, but it is still a very good film and should be seen by all to watch Martin Scorcese and Leonardo DiCaprio fire on all cylinders.