Matthew Lickona 4:30 p.m., May 20
The Wolf of Wall Street
Martin Scorsese’s latest, most outrageous essay on common denominators living the life of upscale, drug-enhanced, and power-infested businessmen to the manner born. Set to the tune of metronome camera moves, protagonist and unrepentant jerk Jordan Belfort’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) first day on the job in a strip-mall penny-stock shithole finds him delivering a master class on how to “sell garbage to garbage men.” The energy level in this scene and in Belfort’s hilarious third-act, time-released Quaalude crawl suggests the work of a director in his early 30s, not that of a man who just turned 71. Belfort is Scorsese’s ultimate surrogate auteur, an evangelical trafficker in power, preaching moxie to his ductile minions. But film remains a collaborative medium, and it would have been nice if screenwriter Terrence Winter hadn't written any scenes whose only purpose was to suck up to the director. Actorwise it’s Leo’s show, and the script calls for the actor to dominate every scene, leaving the supporting cast little to do but bounce off him. It's the weakest entry in Scorsese's cocaine trilogy — which began with Goodfellas and Casino — but running third in that company is no mean feat. 2013.
- "Law-school grad says Wolf of Wall Street character maligns him" • February 20, 2014
- "Scorsese’s fugazis" • December 23, 2013