11 April 2014 | bkoganbing
Reserved for the male of the species
The Wolf Of Wall Street details the rise and fall in real life of one Jordan Belfort who for a while was living high and wide off of other people's money. It was good while it lasted until some relentless FBI agents took him down partly because of his own hubris.
Leonardo DiCaprio as he did with such other real life figures like Howard Hughes and J. Edgar Hoover, each of who lived large in his own way with power, DiCaprio lives large with money. At first it's the realization of the American dream, DiCaprio the middle class kid wants to go on Wall Street. He goes, but then is one of thousands cast adrift by the stock market crash of the late Reagan years. DiCaprio is not about to give up his dream.
He organizes his own brokerage house, similar to what is seen in the more modestly financed film The Boiler Room. But DiCaprio takes it far from a penny stock outfit. With a collection of his own ill assorted bunch of friends chief among them is Jonah Hill, these guys and I do mean it is reserved for the male of the species DiCaprio makes obscene amounts of money and spends it obscenely. That is sure to attract all kinds of law enforcement attention.
I have seen very few films that have depicted the alpha male world so well. Women just do not compete in DiCaprio's world. All they serve as are sex objects. Women work on Wall Street in the more traditional brokerage houses, but not with him where being one of the boys is the first requirement. The world consists of 50% orgies and 50% piling up paper profits and later on hiding them from authorities. True of DiCaprio and true to a lesser extent of all his associates.
Martin Scorsese directed this film and handled the film like he did one of his gangster epics like Goodfellas. The narration of the film is by DiCaprio and it takes you from his rise to where law enforcement has him between a rock and a hard place. Like Ray Liotta in Goodfellas a combination of drugs and hubris makes him think he's invulnerable. But in Goodfellas would not have had a scene where the wise guys just out and out dared to challenge the FBI as DiCaprio does with agent Kyle Chandler. It so reminded me of that famous incident from 1984 where presidential candidate Gary Hart dares reporters to follow him around to catch him doing anything outside his marriage. And of course they did.
Five Oscar nominations went to The Wolf Of Wall Street, nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and nominations for DiCaprio and Jonah Hill as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Hill was something of a revelation. The kind of nondescript character that you wouldn't look at twice, Hill gets taken to a world that he could only imagine in dreams wet or dry by DiCaprio. In his own Hill is almost as fascinating a story as DiCaprio.
The guy who beat Leo out for Best Actor has a brief but telling role as a mentor of sorts. Matthew McConaughey plays a stockbroker who takes him under his wing and they have a great scene at a club where he's getting his first three martini lunch. McConaughey only forgets to teach DiCaprio one thing, discretion.
I can understand why women would truly hate this film as they are nothing more than pawns in a male power game, but The Wolf Of Wall Street gives us a fascinating look at a man who tried to play with the big boys of the Stock Exchange and for a while, did.