The Wolf of Wall Street: Review

Scorsese’s latest biopic, The Wolf of Wall Street, is an intimidating, three-hour long beast which grips you in its jaws, drags you into a pitch-black cave and refuses to let go until it’s much too late.

The film features a confident, awards-hungry performance from Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, a man with an insatiable appetite for sex, drugs and money (or “fun coupons”, as he calls them). Starring alongside DiCaprio is Jonah Hill, who continues to impress with his capability in more dramatic roles. He is entirely worthy of his second Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Belfort’s right-hand-man, Donnie Azoff.

Surprisingly, for a film that’s a whole three hours in length, there is no slow build-up. We’re thrust headfirst into Belfort’s life, as he goes about making and then blowing his millions in various questionable ways. The manic environment at Stratton Oakmont, Belfort’s infamous penny-stock brokerage, often resembles the inside of a cramped monkey cage; complete with the alpha-male and his gang of screaming, chest-thumping primates. This hyper-masculine and money-drenched environment often leads to some of the film’s funnier scenes, with the gang participating in increasingly bizarre and quite ridiculous displays of excess, such as dwarf tossing and raunchy office parties.

Many will no doubt argue that the film glorifies the debauched lifestyle of Jordan Belfort. Were it not for the final thirty minutes, it’d be hard to disagree. The vast majority of the film is two hours and thirty minutes of pure escapism, as Scorsese invites us all to live vicariously through Belfort and his cohorts. However, the final thirty minutes are like an icy wave that crashes through the silver-screen and washes the audience up on the bleak shores of reality. You suddenly realise you’ve been laughing the entire time; willingly going along for a ride, led by a manipulative, selfish man who fucks hookers, extorts people, takes drugs and has absolutely no regard for his wife and kids.

The Wolf of Wall Street is no celebration of masculinity. In fact, Scorsese’s latest film is an exquisitely dark fable, teaching us all what a pathetic example of a man Jordan Belfort really is.

In three words:  Depraved, Hilarious, Fascinating

Wider Reading

Superbad

Why? Jonah Hill’s star persona. Roles as overweight, awkward teenagers, such as his performance in Superbad, shot Hill into the limelight. Rather than allowing himself to become typecast, he has instead been able to completely transform into an Academy Award nominated dramatic actor.

Taxi Driver

Why? Representation of masculinity. Both films have the same director and are set within the same city. However, Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle is poor, frustrated and unsuccessful with women – the complete opposite of Jordan Belfort.

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Film Review: This Is The End

Tom says:

James Franco throws a party of biblical proportions in directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen’s first venture into horror comedy. In true Goldberg/Rogen fashion, expect to see familiar faces from both Superbad and Pineapple Express, as well as many other celebrity appearances, in this apocalyptic cameo-fest that is hilarious from start to finish.

Forget high-school house parties and drug deal getaways, Goldberg and Rogen leave no expenses spared in This Is The End, a tale not restricted to our dimension. After arriving in Los Angeles to visit his good friend Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel is invited to a house party hosted by none other than James Franco, who has just moved into the neighbourhood. On arrival, the place is packed full of famous faces. In the same style as the sitcom Extras, the actors in this film are playing over-the-top caricatures of themselves, such as the overly-loving Jonah Hill, the foul-mouthed Emma Watson and, best of all, the coke-fiend Michael Cera who definitely deserves his own film.

Many of these faces are not around for long, however, as a giant sinkhole opens up outside Franco’s house, swallowing dozens of party guests. The film then takes a turn down the end-of-the-world route which would feel unimaginative and overdone if it was not for the opportunities for comedy that it creates. As with Goldberg and Rogen’s previous films, This Is The End features the same loose-scripted, improvised humour that manifests itself when you put people like James Franco, Danny McBride and Jonah Hill in the same room and, with judgement day happening right outside the door, that happens a lot.

The lack of creativity story-wise slightly lets it down, but that is easily excusable as the non-stop laughs more than make up for it. This Is The End may be the best comedy you see all year.

Gary says:

Evan Goldberg and his hilarious writing partner Seth Rogen, the comedy minds behind the excellent Pineapple Express and Superbad, leap on to the apocalyptic cinema bandwagon and ride it straight to hell with their devilishly funny directorial debut, This is the End.

A packed party at James Franco’s ultra-cool Los Angeles home is the setting, as the world begins to fall apart – dragging doomed celebrities into a fiery sinkhole. The special effects team demonstrate that the devil really is in the detail, with impressive CGI demons and realistic gore affording the film with some truly blockbuster moments.

This is the End’s main strength is undoubtedly the incredibly likeable cast. Rogen and Franco continue their endearing bromance last seen in Pineapple Express, with Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Jay Baruchel also portraying fictional, and quite often bizarre, versions of themselves. There are also plenty of great cameos; particularly from Channing Tatum and the typically innocent Michael Cera who, in this world, is actually an unruly cocaine addict. The film’s bright white climax also provides several surprises that make it very difficult to leave the cinema without an enormous smile across your face.

If you are easily offended, this is not the apocalypse film for you; with a large portion of This is the End’s more lowbrow moments coming from jokes involving the cast’s various bodily fluids. However, this is not to suggest it’s a film void of intelligent humour, as the highly improvised dialogue provides plenty of witty spontaneity.

If you can stomach the gross-out moments, This is the End is a brilliant horror comedy which, for fans of Goldberg and Rogen’s previous work, is completely unmissable.

by Tom Woodcock & Gary Woodcock