THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013) : REVIEW

January 21, 2014

"Let me tell you something. There's no nobility in poverty. I've been a poor man, and I've been a rich man. And I choose rich every fucking time."
After 4 outstanding collaborations in Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and the most recently Shutter Island, the dynamic duo of a 71-year-old director Martin Scorsese and the 40-year-old-Oscar-nominated-actor-who-sadly-never-won-a-single-trophy Leonardo DiCaprio never cease to amaze me. In theatres now is their latest collaboration titled The Wolf of Wallstreet; a stock-broker's real-life story based on the real Jordan Belfort's 2007 memoir, adapted into screen brilliantly by screenwriter Terence Winter, resulting to 5 shy Oscar nominations of Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Achievement in Directing, and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. No need to spell out how was my expectation on this very work, cause it's fucking high.

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), an ambitious 22-year-old young man who had just moved in to New York with beautiful wife in hand, named Teresa (Cristin Milioti). When he finally got his stock-broker license finalized, he realized that his New York's dream was just inches away, as he started his career as a connector in L.F. Rothschild. There, he met Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey), a chest-thumping, martini addict and coke-sniffer senior in Rothschild who gave him plenty insider tricks on how to survive in Wall Street, Bull and Bear considered. The tricks? Sex, drugs and constant swearing. Belfort was doing just fine picking up calls, but then 1987's Black Monday happened; as Dow Jones Index dropped 508 points, Rothschild was out of business for good, leaving everyone in it jobless in the sparkling big apple, including Belfort. He then sought out for a new job, landing him in a small brokerage in Long Island, which took on Penny Stocks only, with 50% commission on hand after-trade (selling garbage to a garbageman they said). Wittyful, he was, Belfort made the best out of that 50% commission, granting him a big-fat paycheck every month, which unexpectedly drew Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill)'s attention. Short story short, Azoff decided to quit his furniture job and go on with Belfort to start their own penny stocks brokerage there named Stratton Oakmont. They then recruited the best 'sales' they'd ever known : Brad (Jon Bernthal), Rugrat (P.J. Byrne), Chester Ming (Kenneth Choi), Pinhead (Brian Sacca), and Sea Otter (Henry Zebrowski). With Belfort's guidance, those amateur sales became (perhaps) the best traders the world'd ever witnessed, expanding Stratton Oakmont into one must-watch brokerage (and the most exciting place to work at, because you get your own customized suit!) and as the Robin Hood of Wall Street as Forbes once quoted. Stratton Oakmont was then targetting for the 1% commission from the dumb-riches, leading into their biggest break of Steve Madden's IPO. Their success were inevitable; Belfort made $49 million in the age of 26, which of course led to a suspicion (of legal trading, you name it) from the FBI and SEC. As Belfort's life evolved between drugs, sex, money and his family life with his second wife, the Duchess of Bay Ridge named Naomi (Margot Robbie), he was also haunted by the ongoing investigation by the FBI's agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) which would cost him his empire, as everyone knew how the stock went : high return with a high risk entailed.

Rated R for excessive swearing (more than 500 'FUCK' detected), voyeuristic sexual behavior with no nudity shown, endless drugs consumption, mad money throwing, sharp and cynical sarcasm and dirty jokes. This movie offered a dark comical sense, black comedy as they would say. Everyone cringed and spilled a bitter laugh on DiCaprio's effort to roll down the stairs to get into his white Ferrari. Everyone would laugh to Belfort's "Safety First" saying when it came to midget-throwing dart. This movie was spoiled, barbaric, eccentric, blatant, energetic and out of control, and it was one hell of an impeccably satisfying ride. Though it might be a little exhausting (not just because of the 165 mins running time --- the original one was 180 mins, Indonesia's LSF chopped 15 minutes of it), but never once the plot missed its pace or blurred the lines. The script was raw, honest and witty, covering the act of money laundering, bribery and little wire tapping in such way to expose immorality and the degrading mind of one's self. And a money-smuggling in to Swiss bank account, taped beautifully on one's body (hahaha). Every aspects were well intended; immorality and the aspect on how money changed people, regardless the amount. The cinematography was beautiful and the splendid editing done by Thelma Schoonmaker; priceless.

It was well followed, the tragic changes of Belfort, from protagonist into antagonist and fortunately DiCaprio expressed it well. We wouldn't lose our rooting on Belfort's self, regardless all of his sick actions and minds, but I caught no simpathy on him whatsoever. That was the very ingredient that this movie was lacking of; people found a way to root over the characters but they couldn't as well feel sorry for them, feel the pain in them. It was like it was served for pleasing the eyes but not the heart. Secondly, this movie was also lacking of female heroine. It'd be splendid if Margot Robbie's Naomi got more screen time, but then again everyone was just sugarcoats in Belfort-Azoff's show.

DiCaprio might be the sole actor for the character Jay Gatsby; he portrayed him so well it sticks, until now. But then again, DiCaprio's Belfort might as well be his most interesting roles ALL THE TIME. We got to see him screaming loudly over the mic, we got to see him thumping his chest while making the rhythm through his own mouth, we got to see him flying down a chopper while high on morphine (because it's simply good, he said), we got to see him throwing around $100, we got to see him (literally) rolling down the stairs, we got to see him high on Ludes while still able to sniff coccaine through a roll of hundred bucks. And we got to see him narrated; I was so drawn by his charisma, both through the narration and how he explained everything ON the camera. Splendid. Matthew McConaughey stole the entire scene though only for brief moment, but it was unforgettable. Kyle Chandler was high on sarcasm and that I-am-a-tough-federal-agent look on his face. Rob Reiner as Mad Max was intriguing and full of explosion. Bernthal, Byrne, Choi, Sacca and Sebrowski played their side roles well and they were a good complection to Hill-Dicaprio's brilliant teamed up. Joanna Lumley as Aunt Emma with her Brits-everything and money-laundering and "Is he hitting on me?" act was a bundle of laugh and it was very intriguing. Jean Dujardin's Jean Jacques Saurel was a nice topping, with his implied dirty suggestions and the I'm-switching-to-French-now act. But to be honest, above all, I mostly cherished Jonah Hill's performance as Donnie Azoff. Donnie was a bizarre man who was married to his first cousin, wore clear glass and had ridiculously sparkly white teeth. He liked to do drugs, ate living goldfish, masturbated in public and choked over a bacon. I was drawn to his character and his act was brilliant to begin with. Definitely the main attention there.

Finally said, this might be one of the best movie I've ever seen. It was brilliant, cynical but fun and thrilling at the same time. WATCH IT. RECOMMENDED. FUCK, WATCH IT PEOPLE!

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I hereby give you an appendix, a glossary, your brain-guide before watching the movie because I imagined that some of you don't know that newspapers exist or that you simply hate money politics and not in a business school. Go on, read, don't be a smartypants.

1. Wall Street : is the central financial district of America, located in New York City, a home to New York Stock Exchange where all the tradings happen
2. Dow Jones Industrial Average : is the stock market index for trading
3. IPO (Initial Public Offering) : an occurance when a company first issues its stock to the public (going public)
4. Bull Market : happens when the market is rising (rising stock)
5. Bear Market : happens when the market it falling (falling stock)
6. Penny Stock : stock which price is under $1 per share
7. Securities : proof of ownership on stocks, bonds, etc
8. NASDAQ : or National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations is the second biggest stock exchange in the world after New York Stock Exchange
9. Connector : those who call to convince potential buyers into involving themselves in certain businesses
10. Rathole : terms used for those who own stocks secretly because using their own names would break the law
11. Pump and Dump : scheme occured by pumping (or inflating) the price of a stock often only by exaggeration to meet one's benefit then quickly dump it by selling it when the price is at its high, causing the owner of the stock to lose great amount of it

(source : my 6-months-long polished brain of being an accounting student)



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