Directed by Martin Scorsese. 180 mins.
Worth my time? Yes. (Seen at Arclight Hollywood)
While it isn’t Scorsese at his best (was anyone expecting it to be?), Wolf was a damn fine way to break my month-long movie dry-spell. After deviating from his usual “rise and fall of a protagonist crushed by his own excess while striving to prove his manhood and self-worth” formula with the dreadful Shutter Island and the near-excellent Hugo, Marty returns to form. Sure, Wolf is a retread, but it’s one of his better retreads (trumping Casino, for instance).
While Leo’s interpretation of Jordan Belfort is a transparent lift of Ray Liotta’s performance of Henry Hill back in GoodFellas, there are enough differences to make the character interesting. While Hill’s identity stems from the family he joined, Belfort’s identity comes from the family he made. While he treats his wife dirt and has no remorse for the countless investors he fucks over, his firm, Stratton Oakmont, is the love of his life. His employees love him, and he loves them back. Belfort is an asshole, but Terrence Winter writes enough humanity into the character to put him head-and-shoulders above the straw men that are Gordon Gekko and his knock-offs.
The rest of the supporting cast (with the exception of a distracting, inexplicable Metthew McConaughey cameo) is solid. I liked Jonah Hill, though I bet he’ll irritate the shit out of some folks. The other founding members of Stratton Oakmont all have their stand-out moments, and it was surprising to see Rob Reiner show up in a non-shitty movie for once. And Margot Robbie, holy smokes. I just looked her up on IMDb, and it turns out that I’m more than a year older than her.
What the fuck are they feeding girls these days? It must be the hormones in the chicken or some shit like that.
Kyle Chandler has a great screen presence and can hold his own against the better-known stars, but I wish that Winter and Marty would have further fleshed out his character. In a film that, in typical Scorsese fashion, peppers trivial yet interesting character details throughout the story, Chandler’s FBI agent feels less like a person and more like a device. Someone needs to take Belfort down by the movie’s end, and that seems like the filmmakers didn’t care about who did it.
Wolf is the longest Scorsese film I can recall. While I didn’t feel the length nearly as much as most three-hour films, there’s filler to be sure. I got a lot of bang for my movie ticket, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled for when some aspiring ACE member uploads an abridged version on YouTube.
Aside: Not a single Stones track plays throughout the entire film. Hell must be chilly.
(Seen and written on 2014-01-19)