Saturday, March 18, 2017

Brandon's #94: The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

2013 marked the final year of Core Room 5 Film Club, and this movie, sadly, was the main cause. Up to that point, we had spent the better part of five years writing and corresponding about movies. It all started when John was my boss and we did a DVD exchange. 

Basically, we would bring in a weekly dvd for the other guy to watch and review. I found out early on that John was a hard man to please, at least as far as "conventional" wisdom is concerned. I like this about John. I also like that he approached film from a moral perch, even when I couldn't understand his hangups. Through the years we (the club) battled through some friendly debates, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I learned a lot from these dust ups. 

The Wolf of Wall Street brought everything to a screeching halt, and I'm convinced it was for the best. I understand the detractor's objections, though I find the notion that Scorsese and company condoning the debauchery and greed, lazy and hypersensitive. 

I first saw it in theaters, just months before my life would forever change with the birth of my son Dean. I sat beside my pregnant companion watching this pack of reprobates cheat, defile, and betray in a cyclical chain of worsening shenanigans. It's a comedy full of laughs that ought to give anyone pause. But laughing is subjective, as is enjoyment of such things. One man's masterpiece can be another's pile of steaming garbage. 

Still, I think the actions on display speak for themselves and the final image is a prescient chilling reminder of how easily we let a wolf like Jordan/Trump/etc lead us to our doom. 

Note: I also saw this with Jeff, who shares my enthusiasm. Also, this was supposed to be my previous pick but I held off out of respect for John. Also, my wife loves this movie.


  1. This one is also on my list, so I'll have an opportunity to say more about it soon. But I'm with you - TWoWS is not a celebration of greed and debauchery.

    The reaction to it seems to have divided people into three groups - 1) people like me, you, Jeff, etc. 2) people like John 3) Scumbags who love it and aspire to be the next Jordan Belfort.

    The Trump comparison is spot on - even when guys like Belfort/Trump hit rock bottom (financially and morally) they can still capture the attention of desperate people because they give off the illusion of success. The film shows the consequences of being a hedonistic scumbag - you put your family in danger and ultimately lose them. For some, wealth and power are worth that price; but for decent human beings, it's clear to see what kind of monster you have to be to become the Wolf of Wall Street.

  2. I think it has a very clear message but it doesn't give every viewer a set of directions to maneuver. I think John's objections are way different than the lazy critics I referred to. That was the clickbait crowd looking for a controversy. I hate them. Each and every bullshit think piece that fixates on #problematic aspects of a certain piece of art just belittles the idea of interpretation.

    1. Agreed. Also, it definitely isn't an easy journey to take. You have to put up with a ton of vile shit just to confirm some things you knew already. But I also give the movie points for how much it pissed me off while I watched it. It's a challenging movie and that's one of the things that I really appreciate about it.

  3. CR5FC had run its course for me, I think, regardless of whether or not this movie had come along. It's amazing that we kept it up as long as we did. My leaving the blog was mostly just a shift in interests and priorities.

    It's hard to believe that for a short time before the blogs you and I actually got paid to talk all day about film with each other! ;-)

    I guess we had other responsibilities at work that we were really paid for, but the film talk was often the best part of the day. It's a testament to how enjoyable that time was that we chose to keep on doing it via the blogs for years afterwards!

  4. In 100% agreement with you on this one and am glad it made your list. Side note, my girlfriend loves it too.

    I caught CR5FC late in the game, but am very thankful for the time I got to be a part of it. I can remember at its peak we were pretty much blogging at each other every single day. It was an incredible run, even if it was ultimately unsustainable. Glad we can have a mini-reunion of sorts on here now.

  5. Jeff, you and Chris were just as important in my mind. Plus, we had some nice dust ups as well. Lol