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Saturday, March 15, 2014

No. 1 for December 31, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street directed by Martin Scorsese

Um, … wow! I wasn't really, expecting a breakdown of the world “too big to fail” or tales of financial-political collusion (like the man sitting behind me seemed to be) or even a sort of Goodfellas of Finance, but I wasn't prepared at all for this three-hour onslaught of sex, drugs and wretched excess that passes a bit into overkill. The acting is particularly good throughout, but there is a certain lack of the sizzle that Scorsese usually brings. But, as he often does, he takes you on a character's rise and fall through a world of which you may or may not (but secretly wish to) be a part (at least for the good parts). 
The debate out there seems to be if the depiction of this depravity equals endorsement. Scorsese does not moralize here and I don't miss it. Aside from brief moments seen from the point of view of the Wolf's first wife and his FBI nemesis, the destruction the Wolf reaps upon his clients, his relationships and himself are presented at face value, obvious to the audience, if not to himself. While the film shows the Wolf as unapologetic, it doesn't suggest he should be. The audience is trusted to react to what they are being shown without being told how to feel. (my point is much better made by the great Sara Benincasa here.) Perhaps this level of depravity needs to be depicted because even now, after all the crimes and shenanigans that have been brought to light over the past five years, the financial industry is presumed to be (and wants us to presume them to be) made up of boring men in suits leading staid upright respectable lives.

(an aside – did Family Matters play any other role in society other than to measure if the drugs were working? (Growing Pains wasn't on apparently))

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