Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" is abashed and shameless, exciting and exhausting, disgusting and illuminating; it's one of the most entertaining films ever made about loathsome men. Its star Leonardo DiCaprio has compared it to the story of the Roman emperor Caligula, and he's not far off the mark.
Adapted by Terence Winter from the memoir by stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who oozed his way into a fortune in the 1980s and '90s, this is an excessive film about excess, and a movie about appetites whose own appetite for compulsive pleasures seems bottomless. It runs three hours, and was reportedly cut down from four by Scorsese's regular editor Thelma Schoonmaker. It's a testament to Scorsese and Winter and their collaborators that one could imagine watching these cackling swine for five hours, or ten, while still finding them fascinating, and our own fascination with them disturbing. This is a reptilian brain movie. Every frame has scales. ...»
The Wolf Of Wall Street is the first Martin Scorsese film in a good while that feels as though, in a few years' time, it will join Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and GoodFellas in the canon. It arrives as Casino did with a lot of fanfare, but doesn’t quite deliver what many of us were expecting, and for some, it’s a film that might take a little bit of getting used to. Though it starts with a dash of the usual visual pyrotechnics, the tone is much straighter than we’ve come to expect, with longer, more intimate scenes and a much greater emphasis on script. But the oddest thing of all about The Wolf Of Wall Street is also the most unusual for a Scorsese film: it is incredibly, incredibly funny.
That the comedy is so effortless is another striking thing about Scorsese’s 23rd feature, since it is his first film since 1999’s Bringing Out The Dead — also rich in black humour — that doesn’t seem to be made to an Academy agenda. With The Wolf Of Wall Street, the director’s early energy comes flooding back. It’s big but not Gangs-Of-New-York epic, and it finally seems as though Scorsese is once again interrogating the material, finding the substance of the piece. On paper, the story of Jordan Belfort seems tailor-made for him — it is a criminal’s survivor story, with Wall Street as the Cosa Nostra of our times — but this isn’t GoodFellas with stocks and shares; it is a film with one eye on us, the audience. Like the very best of Scorsese’s work, it involves an antihero who pushes us to the very limits of our sympathy — Jake LaMotta, Rupert Pupkin, Travis Bickle — but Jordan Belfort might be the worst of the bunch. And it is the genius of the film, not only in Scorsese’s direction but in Leonardo DiCaprio’s untouchable performance, that three hours in the company of a man who exploits the poor and wallows in obscene wealth simply whizzes by. ...»
Does “The Wolf of Wall Street” condemn or celebrate? Is it meant to provoke disgust or envy? These may be, in the present phase of American civilization, distinctions without a meaningful difference behind them. If you walk away feeling empty and demoralized, worn down by the tackiness and aggression of the spectacle you have just witnessed, perhaps you truly appreciate the film’s critical ambitions. If, on the other hand, you ride out of the theater on a surge of adrenaline, intoxicated by its visual delights and visceral thrills, it’s possible you missed the point. The reverse could also be true. To quote another one of Mr. Scorsese’s magnetic, monstrous heroes, Jake LaMotta, that’s entertainment. ...»
In the mid-1990s, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) and the rest of his associates from brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont became the very definition of excess and debauchery, their offices a boiler room fueled by cocaine and greed. High pressure sales tactic and less-than-legal behind-the-scenes manipulation bred plenty of twenty-something millionaires, and Belfort built himself an empire at the top of the heap. His rise and fall is chronicled in The Wolf of Wall Street, based on the memoir of the same name.
Under most circumstances, the actions of Belfort and his cronies (including Jonah Hill in a howlingly funny turn as Belfort's business partner) would be viewed as disgustingly abhorrent, but Martin Scorsese frames this tale of greed with a comedic lens that allows us to laugh at things we probably shouldn't find humorous. Whether it's a clumsy attempt at fisticuffs between two characters overdosing on Quaaludes, or the categorization of prostitutes using stock market terminology ("blue chip" hookers make you wear a condom and typically accept credit cards), the film is outrageous from start to finish, and rarely falters in its quest to entertain the audience for three hours.
Belfort manages to delude himself and his pals into thinking they can live like this forever, but the audience knows better, and Belfort's eventual comeuppance is hardly surprising. But the path is paved with hilarity, especially in a scene aboard the mogul's luxury yacht, where he surreptitiously offers a pair of FBI agents everything from booze to girls to cold hard cash in exchange for their silence. And let's not forget his punishment for drunkenly piloting a helicopter into the backyard of his estate at 3am, raising the ire of his trophy wife (Margot Robbie).
Scorsese has always managed to elicit astounding performances from his actors, and his fifth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio results in one of the most charismatic, despicable, offensive and captivating characters to ever appear on screen. As financial bad boy Belfort, DiCaprio swaggers from scene to scene ingesting eye-popping amounts of narcotics, groping and fondling nearly every female within reach, and spouting more profanity in three hours than an entire season of The Sopranos. Belfort is the kind of person that any sane person would detest in real life, but thanks to Scorses and DiCaprio, we can't take our eyes off him. ...»
Most of Martin Scorsese's films have been about men trying to realize their inner image of themselves. That's as true of Travis Bickle as of Jake LaMotta, Rupert Pupkin, Howard Hughes, the Dalai Lama, Bob Dylan or, for that matter, Jesus Christ. "The Departed" is about two men trying to live public lives that are the radical opposites of their inner realities. Their attempts threaten to destroy them, either by implosion or fatal betrayal. The telling of their stories involves a moral labyrinth, in which good and evil wear each other's masks.
I have often thought that many of Scorsese's critics and admirers do not realize how deeply the Catholic Church of pre-Vatican II could burrow into the subconscious, or in how many ways Scorsese is a Catholic director. This movie is like an examination of conscience, when you stay up all night trying to figure out a way to tell the priest: I know I done wrong, but, oh, Father, what else was I gonna do? ...»
Scorsese doesn't need gore to make his points. A scene with Billy and a vibrating cell phone matches Hitchcock for suspense. Another, deftly borrowed from The Third Man, simply involves Madolyn walking past Colin at a funeral, her impassive gaze deadlier than a speeding bullet. Issues of sin, redemption, identity and loyalty resonate in Scorsese's films, including the atypical Kundun, Age of Innocence and The Aviator. Each new film absorbs the others, creating a body of work that can stand with the greatest. Scorsese tops the list of American directors because, even when he fails, he strives passionately to make movies that matter. The Departed, a defiantly uncompromised vision of a society rotting from the inside, is one of his best. Act accordingly.
All the actors bring their A games to this triumphant bruiser of a film, its darkly wanton wit the only defense against complete chaos. DiCaprio and Damon give explosive, emotionally complex performances, but it must be said that Jack Nicholson reaches undreamed-of heights of decadent devilment as Irish mob kingpin Frank Costello. Whether he's wielding a gun or a dildo, buying off cops, dissing Catholic priests as pederasts, seducing children into a life of crime, letting it snow cocaine on favored hookers or chatting while elbow-deep in blood, Nicholson is electrifying. Dispassionately executing a woman on a beach, Costello notes to his henchman Mr. French (a terrific Ray Winstone), "She fell funny." But Costello is no campy Joker. Channeling James Cagney in White Heat and Paul Muni in Scarface, Nicholson leeches out the glamour to create a landmark portrait of evil. ...»
When it comes to the dynamics of filmmaking, Scorsese still has few peers — an elevator shoot-out in the third act could easily be this year’s tensest scene. The Departed is a sort of time machine: it recalls the richness and moral ambiguity of Hollywood’s ’70s, presenting stories about real people absent of turn-of-the-millennium concerns. They curse, have sex, lie, fight — and sometimes die horribly. This is a superbly crafted movie that holds its own alongside, say, Serpico and The French Connection, with their amoral characters and intense, realistic action. Yet, despite its many layers, the director clearly has no ambition to break new ground. The surprising moments of humour that leaven the story suggest that he’s having fun with a film that puts him back on the mean streets, but with no intention of detailing the cogs of the criminal world. It’s not GoodFellas or Casino, but, frankly, it doesn’t have to be. He’s got Jack Nicholson. ...»
There are almost as many films fighting in “The Departed” as there are guys slugging it out. First among those films is Martin Scorsese’s cubistic entertainment about men divided by power, loyalty and their own selves. Hovering above that film like a shadow is “Infernal Affairs,” the equally sleek Hong Kong assemblage on which it is based and which serves as one of its myriad doubles. And then there is the film conjured up by Jack, as in Jack Nicholson, who when not serving Mr. Scorsese’s interests with a monstrous leer all but subverts those interests with a greedy, devouring hunger.
Each Scorsese film comes freighted with so many expectations, as well as the enormity of his own legend, that it’s a wonder the director can bear the weight. Compared with his last fictional outings, the period story “Gangs of New York” and the Howard Hughes portrait “The Aviator,” this new work feels as light as a feather, or as light as any divertissement from a major filmmaker who funnels his ambitions through genre. What helps make “The Departed” at once a success and a relief isn’t that the director of “Kundun,” Mr. Scorsese’s deeply felt film about the Dalai Lama, is back on the mean streets where he belongs; what’s at stake here is the film and the filmmaking, not the director’s epic importance. ...»
"Shutter Island" starts working on us with the first musical notes under the Paramount logo's mountain, even before the film starts. They're ominous and doomy. So is the film. This is Martin Scorsese's evocation of the delicious shuddering fear we feel when horror movies are about something and don't release all the tension with action scenes.
In its own way it's a haunted house movie, or make that a haunted castle or fortress. Shutter Island, we're told, is a remote and craggy island off Boston, where a Civil War-era fort has been adapted as a prison for the criminally insane. We approach it by boat through lowering skies, and the feeling is something like the approach to King Kong's island: Looming in gloom from the sea, it fills the visitor with dread. To this island travel U.S. marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo). ...»
Shutter Island. A film that will divide the film community. A film that will leave many upset, and hating it. A film that has already completely split the critics. A movie that messes with you. And no one likes to be messed with. And that is exactly where it exceeds. Think I'm contradicting myself?
Shutter Island is one of the most well crafted psychological thrillers to come by since Silence Of The Lambs. And it is no coincidence both were brilliantly written novels. Shutter Island is adapted by a book written by Dennis Lehane (wrote gone baby, gone and mystic river). It is a book filled with twists and turns, that will leave the reader dizzy. And, that is what it's film counterpart does to the fullest. Martin Scorsese helms the director chair, in a movie where he is more free than any before. This is Scorsese at his most unrestrained.
Marty takes what he has learned from the great films of the past and puts it into his. The master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock's influence is everywhere you look in this film. And it is no wonder, considering Scorsese even showed one of his greatest works to the crew: Vertigo. And many of those ideas are present in Shutter Island; the cliff scenes scream Hitchcock. This is a film that creeps and crawls, and is filled with dark corners. And it is all heightened by the coming storm that looms over the island. This is classic film noir.
The story follows Teddy, a federal Marshall, and his partner Chuck (Played by DiCaprio and Ruffulo). They go to this mysterious island enveloped in fog to investigate an escape. From these opening scenes, Marty has set up a dark and creepy premise.
Almost the whole movie incorporates this story as Teddy desperately tries to find the truths he seeks. Teddy is shown as a scared man; a man of war and violence as portrayed in various flashbacks. These will go on to be increasingly important as the story progresses. We follow Teddy on his quest, through every dark corridor and perilous confrontations. Slowly, we are given pieces to the puzzle, but the audience does not even realize it. For we, like Teddy, are blind. For the moment at least. It is because of this that the thrilling conclusion will leave many blindsided. But, you see, that is where this thriller becomes something more. We as the audience are put in Teddy's shoes, and we feel all the things he feels. It is a complete assault on the senses, and it works beautifully.
This is a film you must watch carefully. That is another thing that sets this apart, it is a horror film that makes you actually think. In this day and age, I'm not surprised some found it terrible esp. after their brains have been turned to mush by these new gore filled horror films. Scorsese's ultimate goal here is to wake you up. And trust me, you probably wont like it.
This is also a film I would recommend seeing a second time. In fact, it is even better the second time. All those pieces of that puzzle you didn't catch the first time, you will the second. You see, we as the audience are first put in the shoes of Teddy. The second? Well, without giving too much away, lets just say you are put in someones else's shoes entirely during the second viewing.
Shutter Island. A film that will make you question your own sanity. A film that will leave you breathless. A film that has re-ignited the thriller genre. A film that will leave you, and the main character, searching for answers.
“Shutter Island” takes place off the coast of Massachusetts in 1954. I’m sorry, that should be OFF THE COAST OF MASSACHUSETTS! IN 1954! since every detail and incident in the movie, however minor, is subjected to frantic, almost demented (and not always unenjoyable) amplification. The wail of strangled cellos accompanies shots of the titular island, a sinister, rain-lashed outcropping that is home to a mental hospital for the CRIMINALLY INSANE! The color scheme is lurid, and the camera movements telegraph anxiety. Nothing is as it seems. Something TERRIBLE is afoot.
Sadly, that something turns out to be the movie itself, directed by Martin Scorsese and adapted by Laeta Kalogridis from a peculiar contraption of a thriller by Dennis Lehane. Like Shutter Island in the opening scenes, the full dimensions of the catastrophe come into view only gradually. At first everything is fine, or at least not quite right in a way that seems agreeably intriguing. Mr. Scorsese uses his considerable formal dexterity — his intimate, comprehensive understanding of how sound and image work together to create meanings and moods — to conjure a tingly atmosphere of uncertainty and dread. ...»
Martin Scorsese's new movie is a tale of sound and fury, signifying … well, not nothing exactly, but a heck of a lot less than it promises, given the straining intensity of those performances, the glowering darkness of mood, the grand gesture at 20th-century history's grimmest nightmares, and the sheer length. This was supposed to be Scorsese's experiment in B-movie thrills, but no mere B-movie director would go on for two hours and 20 minutes. That's an auteur running time we're talking about, and at the end of it, I got a whiff of shaggy dog.
The silly twist ending is supremely exasperating, and creating the narrative foundation for this final revelatory whiplash has meant laying down some long scenes that at the time look baffling and unconvincing. However, I admit everything looks good and fits together, and the film packs a fair-sized punch. Shutter Island is based on the 2003 thriller from Dennis Lehane, the author of Mystic River (filmed by Clint Eastwood) and Gone Baby Gone (filmed by Ben Affleck). The setting is the 1950s, an era when America's fighting men from the second world war would often have found uniformed jobs such as police officers in civilian life. One such is US Marshal Teddy Daniels, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the scowling mode that he presented to the camera in Scorsese's The Departed, a man in almost constant spiritual pain. ...»
An ironic, emotional, gory revision of the American Experiment, marred by narrative problems but sufficiently awesome in its ambitious scale and intentions to rate as a must-see.
Masterpiece or muddle, then? Truth is, Scorsese's latest spectacle is something of both. This dark, provocative 19th century epic - with its gorgeously sinister cinematography (by Michael Ballhaus) and stunning period detail - is signature Scorsese. Ambitiously he extends his journey through the violence in America's social fabric back in time to argue that, to quote the poster, the great democracy was born (bloodily) in the streets, and is still kicking and screaming to this day. ...»
Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York" rips up the postcards of American history and reassembles them into a violent, blood-soaked story of our bare-knuckled past. The New York it portrays in the years between the 1840s and the Civil War is, as a character observes, "the forge of hell," in which groups clear space by killing their rivals. Competing fire brigades and police forces fight in the streets, audiences throw rotten fruit at an actor portraying Abraham Lincoln, blacks and Irish are chased by mobs, and Navy ships fire on the city as the poor riot against the draft. ...»
GANGS OF NEW YORK,'' Martin Scorsese's brutal, flawed and indelible epic of 19th-century urban criminality, begins in a mud-walled, torchlighted cavern, where a group of warriors prepare for battle, arming themselves with clubs and blades and armoring themselves in motley leather and cloth. Though this is Lower Manhattan in 1846, it might as well be the Middle Ages or the time of Gilgamesh: these warlike rituals have an archaic, archetypal feeling.
And the participants are aware of this. As the members of various colorfully named Irish gangs emerge into the winter daylight of Paradise Square (a place long since given over to high-rises and resurrected here on the grounds of the vast CinecittÃ studio complex in Rome), their native-born Protestant enemies greet them with an invocation of ''the ancient laws of combat.'' The ensuing melee turns the new-fallen snow pink with blood and claims the life of Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson), an Irish gang chieftain whose young son witnesses the carnage.
Sixteen years later, the boy, whose name is Amsterdam, has grown into Leonardo DiCaprio, his wide, implacable face framed by lank hair and a wispy Van Dyke. He returns from a long stint in the Hell Gate Reformatory to his old neighborhood, the Five Points, and finds it ruled by his father's killer, Bill Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), known as the Butcher, a swaggering monster who has turned the anniversary of Priest's death into a local holiday.
Like a figure out of Jacobean theater or a Dumas novel, Amsterdam is consumed by the need for revenge. With the help of a boyhood friend (Henry Thomas), he infiltrates the Butcher's inner circle, becoming a surrogate son to the man who assassinated his father and who now, in accordance with those ancient laws, venerates Priest's memory.
The New York evoked in Amsterdam's voice-over is ''a city full of tribes and war chiefs,'' whose streets are far meaner than any Mr. Scorsese has contemplated before. The Butcher has formed an alliance of convenience with Boss Tweed (Jim Broadbent), the kingpin of Tammany Hall, and together they administer an empire of graft, extortion and larceny that would put any 20th-century movie gangster or political boss to shame. Rival fire companies turn burning buildings into sites of rioting and plunder; crowds gather to witness hangings, bare-knuckled boxing contests and displays of knife throwing.
As new immigrants, from Ireland and elsewhere, pour off the ships in New York harbor, they are mustered into Tweed's Democratic Party and then, since they lack the $300 necessary to buy their way out, into the Union Army. Occasionally a detachment of reform-minded swells will tour the Points, availing themselves of the perennial privileges of squeamish titillation and easy moral superiority. This anarchic inferno is, in Amsterdam's words, not so much a city as ''a cauldron in which a great city might be forged.'' ...»
You'd think Scorcese has bitten a bit more than he could possibly chew, this time. Well, he didn't. Gangs of new York is not an "epic masterpiece" and it ain't that because I seriously doubt the directors aim was that. It's a great movie in it's own account, but you have to watch it in the right way.
The plot: Tight enough and well paced, with a couple of lows (expected for a three-hour film) but generally it comes out pretty neat. Some may find it disturbing, as it contains extreme violence and it does not portray an America of happy workers, even happier slaves, benevolent rich and just authorities - instead, it portraits the true 1860 society. Definitely not for those who like their films with plenty of sugar on the top.
The epic and the drama: Well, basically the film is the story of two men. Around them things evolve and a brave new world comes forth - but we only get to watch snapshots of that world. Until the last sequence, that is when the whole city "explodes" (in some occasions literally...) and the streets are being covered in blood, and the two aspects (the main story and the events of the era) are being tied together in the same continuum.
At the same time, the director attempts to portrait the whole birth and growth of the United States, in a kind of parabole, but without loosing his focus on the main story and the surrounding. Scorsese dives deeply into the psychology of his heroes, without giving out any explanation of their acts other than the probable - he lets us figure it out ourselves, and that's a God-given gift.
The visuals: The film is disturbing, as it contains extreme violence. There are literally streams of blood, hacking, slashing, crushing - even some action movie fans (hey dude, look, he smashed his head with that thing... cool, man!") might find some parts of the film interesting. The last sequence is visually astounding, and it's by it's own account a reason to watch this film over and over again... if you got the stomach to actually cope with the disturbing images, that is.
The actors: I didn't think it would come a day when I'd say that Leo Di Caprio can act, but ...here I go: The kid can act. And quite good too. Guess he needed a Scorsese to put him in the right path. Same with Cameron Diaz - she has got some potential, seems so. Too bad she wastes it in films like "the sweetest thing" and other throw-ups like that. And... Daniel Day Lewis. Truly, with this performance, they should give him the Academy award. He portrays the vile "Butcher" in a way few would be able of, and he adds depth to a character that could very easily end up "two-dimensional". He is stunningly good.
New York, New York: Scorsese gets involved in something that compares to his previous work the way a fancy little sports car compares to a huge truck: A grandioso film of epic proportions and of great ambition. He does deliver, I believe. But this film shall not be acknowledged universally, because there is too much violence, corruption, lack of the good old white vs black (good vs evil, I mean) concept and does not sweeten the pill in any way. It's disturbing and raw, and it's a great. It's not a political film - in such, the director usually picks a stance, a "true" hero, an opposing view, and builds upon those. In this case, the director is truly endistancemented and keeps that distance, even from his "hero". There are no "good" people in that movie, all are acting like chess pieces in a predetermined way, but at the same time they try to burst out and do their own. ...»