An astute film buff I know suggested that, since I admired Taxi Driver and Goodfellas, I should abandon my prejudice of contemporary American cinema and see The Wolf of Wall Street. I was doing the weekly shop when I saw the DVD and duly bought it.
Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, it holds the record for use of the F word and is 3 hours of vulgarity, sexual and drug excess. I was reminded of Goodfellas as it was a depiction of rise and fall, a similar length of 3 hours, the central character narrated it, and it had a score of well-known songs from the 60s and 70s. However Goodfellas took the mafia movie one stage further on its journey to The Sopranos, whereas I could perceive no real difference to Wall Street, Bonfire of the Vanities or Blue Jasmine in the depiction of venality and greed.
My problem is that I find these Masters of the Universe (as Tom Wolfe described them) as uncultivated bores and I have no wish to spend 3 hours watching them at work. I felt that the target audience was the very people the film was lambasting for their greed and in an odd way Scorsese admired them. Certainly, whenever you see him interviewed, he is in his opulent private cinema and I bet he enjoys the trappings of his success. Whereas say Stanley Kubrick was forever experimenting and redefining the frontiers with an epic Barry Lyndon, a political satire Dr Strangelove, an apolycatpic violent film The Clockwork Orange and horror in The Shining, Scorsese stays within his own boundaries.
Leonardo di Caprio gives a fine captivating performance and there are cameos from Joanne Lumley as the posh English aunt and Jean Dujardin ( L’Artiste) as the Swiss banker. The statuesque Australian actress Margot Robbie looks like she will have a star career ahead of her but, after 90 minutes of share dealing, swearing and cocaine abuse, my attention began to waver. Had I been in the cinema I would have been restless as I adhere to Hitchcock’s view that a film should be no longer than the period the average person needs to use the toilet.