Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Scorsese explores crooks of a different kind

  • Print
She'd probably have taken a cheque: from left, Katarina Cas, Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie and Jon Bernthal.

PARAMOUNT PICTURES Enlarge Image

She'd probably have taken a cheque: from left, Katarina Cas, Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie and Jon Bernthal.

No contemporary filmmaker can match Martin Scorsese's achievement when it comes to portraying the criminal underworld. Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Casino -- no one delineates the inner workings of the Mob with the brutal brio of Scorsese.

However, his new film, The Wolf of Wall Street -- his fifth collaboration with actor Leonardo DiCaprio -- offers a kind of corrective to those Mob movies. The lying, cheating and epic greed that nearly brought about a complete financial collapse in 2008 initiates a serious rethink of American crime. Maybe it wasn't the guys in the sharkskin suits we should have worried about. Maybe it was the financial titans in the tailored shirts, the suspenders and the elegant Bulgari watches.

Like Goodfellas and Casino, The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the real life of an authentic criminal. Jordan Belfort (played by an uncharacteristically jubilant DiCaprio) did not rise from the mean streets of Little Italy. He was a Jewish kid from Queens and by the time he was in his 20s, he was intent on a respectable career on Wall Street.

It's safe to say his ambition was re-routed upon being mentored by Wall Street star Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey, continuing a run of superb 2013 performances), who informs the impressionable Jordan that the stockbroker's true goal is to "move money from the client's pocket to your pocket." The chief tool required, as Hanna explains it, is not due diligence. It's a combination of masturbation and cocaine.

Belfort took that philosophy of self-gratification to dizzy new heights upon opening his own company with the calculatedly WASP-y name Stratton-Oakmont. Partnered with the equally ruthless Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), Belfort creates a corporate culture encompassing sex, drugs, conspicuous consumption and unfettered greed.

It's debatable if Scorsese intended this film to be in close stylistic sync with Goodfellas, but the equivalences are unmistakable, especially in the protagonist's confessional narration. (DiCaprio even sounds like Ray Liotta at times.) In Goodfellas, Scorsese froze the frame on a young Henry Hill dashing away from his act of arson. The signature freeze frame in Wolf involves the comparatively frivolous indulgence of dwarf-tossing.

Even Goodfellas' centrepiece sequence -- a paranoid, coked-up Hill tries to clear up a complicated to-do list while convinced he is being observed by police helicopters -- has its druggie parallel when Jordan, knocked on his butt by a mega-dose of pharmaceutical-grade Quaaludes, attempts to drive home from a country club to stop Donnie from making an incriminating call to a Swiss banker.

It amounts to a consistently surprising story, even over three hours, with a cast of colourful characters, including Jordan's gorgeous wife Naomi (an excellent turn from Aussie lollapalooza Margot Robbie), Jordan's dyspeptic dad "Mad Max" (Rob Reiner) and a suave Swiss banker nurturing some indulgences of his own (Jean Dujardin).

Caution should be exercised, Christmas moviegoers: instead of violent excess, the film goes with sexual excess. Even so, it serves as a concise, macroscopic depiction of the over-arching greed that damn near ruined us all.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 24, 2013 D3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Maria Aragon performs new single "Nothing but a Beat"

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY
  • A gosling stares near water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should panhandling at intersections be banned?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google