"The Wolf of Wall Street" is going to be a monstrous hit.
It is the kind of movie that will inspire (mostly) men of a certain age (I am guessing 15 to 55) to memorize scenes and forever trade their favorite lines over and over. I won't give any of them away. But this movie will enter the pantheon of Martin Scorsese classics like "Goodfellas" and "The Departed."
I was lucky enough to see a screening at the Director's Guild Theater on 57th Street on Thursday night. This is not a movie review.
Just an early heads-up that this movie is epic. And it will be huge.
Leonardo DiCaprio compares "The Wolf of Wall Street" to a "modern-day Caligula" in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. And he's not far off. There's gratuitous t&a. So much so that my wife Natasha asked me why there were so many orgy scenes. I didn't have a good answer. There's so much nudity and sex that I was surprised to learn that the film had EVEN MORE in an earlier version — but additional sex scenes were cut to avoid an NC-17 rating. So prepare yourself for flesh.
Then there are the drugs.
From Quaaludes to cocaine, crack and booze — the drug scenes are exquisitely staged. Drug use fuels the whole movie, especially 'ludes. DiCaprio's Jordan Belfort character (the movie is based on Belfort's memoir of the same name) seems to thrive on 'ludes — a tranquilizer that you'd be hard-pressed to find in the U.S. today. But the drugs act as a fuse for all of the Wall Street selling that Belfort oversees at his firm in the late 1980s and early '90s.
The movie is also incredibly long. I am going to guess that the cut we saw was almost 3 hours.
There's more to this movie though than sex, drugs and 165 minutes.
DiCaprio revels in his role as Belfort — a cult-like figure who inspires his sales team to unload crappy penny stocks to unwitting buyers. There's a scene at a country club that will forever be associated with the Great Actor Leo. He is so convincing that the audience last night didn't know whether to laugh. I couldn't. But many people did.
And Jonah Hill — in the role of Belfort's business partner — plays it straight, to a point, and is memorable as soon as he comes on screen. He kills it in his second, third, and fourth scenes too.
Surprisingly, it's less a movie about Wall Street and more about salesmen, posing as brokers. (And I mean men. Hundreds of them. Women are few and far between unless they're naked.) They happen to be selling penny stocks, but might as well be selling fake real estate plots. Or encyclopedias. They are selling. Period. Because people want to buy.
Scorsese focuses hard on all the big-time sins: greed, gluttony, lust, envy and pride. Add it all up and it makes it hard to look away.
Wall Street will be pleased.
The film will be released on Christmas Day. (You should all go see it.)
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