Context and A Movie: The Wolf of Wall Street

Monday, January 06, 2014

"The Wolf of Wall Street" depicts drugs, sex and financial misdeeds -- portraying the true story of Jordan Belfort. A.O. Scott, film critic for The New York Times, and Sheelah Kolhatkar, features editor and national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek, talk about the debate over whether the film glorifies Wall Street excess, and what legal and financial lessons the movie holds.


Sheelah Kolhatkar and A.O. Scott

Comments [16]

roygbiv from nyc

Agreed. Once agian BL doesn't follow the real story and instead brings us the "soft" story. Too many times the real follow ups, the uncomfortable and hard nosed questions go unasked. More like a feel-good segment about the real corruption.

Jan. 06 2014 10:44 PM
VJ from Queens

I know I'm going to be lambasted for this, but I loved this film - and wait - I'm female who identifies as a feminist and progressive. I loved it because it made me laugh at things that never in a million years in real life would I ever find myself laughing at. When I read about the combination of Wall Street-hookers-and-cocaine in my regular news sources, I am nothing but outraged. But when I watched Scorcese's film, I laughed my head off. Why? Because of DeCaprio's subtle and brilliant acting. In every scene where his character is being a jerk, he plays the role with just the right amount of subtle goofiness and quirkiness, so that all of his desires smack of nothing but a bottomless desperation that can never be satisfied or quenched. This combination made me laugh my head off. It was clear that I was invited to laugh at DiCaprio's character. I found it highly cathartic to laugh at the characterization of such a destructive type of man.

Again, I was watching a piece of entertainment, I would absolutely never open my morning online news source and laugh at such a real life story. But sometimes art helps us find an emotional release that we can't find yet in our day-to-day outrage.

Jan. 06 2014 10:37 PM

This movie is so uninteresting I didn't even bother to torrent it when I saw it on one of my trackers this morning...American Hustle was enough glorification of sleazebags for one Oscar season.

Jan. 06 2014 06:21 PM
art525 from Park Slope

And Sorcese is a one trick pony. I guess he thinks he's branching out because this time his crooks and thugs don't have Italian names.

Jan. 06 2014 04:25 PM
art525 from Park Slope

I heard some double talk from DiCaprio. To quote- "This film may be misunderstood by some; I hope people understand that we're not condoning this behavior, we're indicting it," DiCaprio argued. Except that he did film a testimonial for Belfort's motivational personal appearances. What can he teach people? How to steal? DiCaprio also said- "What he did was deplorable," DiCaprio said. "But I do respect anyone who's going to be forthright about his mistakes. He's not the way he was anymore." Oh well too bad about all those people that he robbed. Those pensioners and garbage truck drivers that AO Scott mentioned. Oh and I have seen photos of DiCaprio and Jonah Hill socializing. I'm thinking DiCaprio and Belfort have pretty much the same values- fast cars, bikini blonde babes and cocaine, so I guess he unerstands him. (I remember hearing years ago about DiCaprio being at some club in the village and demanding that they kick out all the males except for his posse of Tobey Maguire and his rat pack and just have the babes stay. So I guess DiCaprio would have a pretty good understanding of Belfort. A pretty shallow lot I'd say.And Belfort continues to cash in.

Jan. 06 2014 04:10 PM

Very strange that Sheelah Kolhatkar received so little air time and the topic of Scorsese as a filmmaker got so much! Who cares! We all know about Scorsese but tell us about the real Belfort!

Jan. 06 2014 03:02 PM
Yahya from New York, NY

It's a movie.

Does the Bone Collector glorify being a serial killer or The Goonies being a kid pursuing a hidden get the point. it's a movie today and will be one tomorrow.

Jan. 06 2014 02:02 PM
Joey Da Dumb Stereotype from Brooklyn, Where Else?

Another turd from the bowels of Scorcese. This guy hasn't made a decent film since 1989.
Yeah, we get it. People are bad. No kidding? Money corrupts. Ya don't say! First you live the high life, then you crash. Zzzzzzz. I puke, the end.

Stick to film preservation, Marty.

Jan. 06 2014 01:53 PM

hustling modern day Bowery boy thug-apes. that's what these jokers are.

Jan. 06 2014 12:25 PM
Katherine from Brooklyn, NY

Why isn't Jordan Belfort in jail? I'm sick of Scorcese's fascination with common crooks. They don't intrigue me. They're all the same: shallow, superficial, overloaded with testosterone, they don't give about anything but getting rich quick, and they treat women like shit. I don't think I'll waste my time on this film, and I too hope Belfort didn't make any money on it.

Jan. 06 2014 12:01 PM
peter scheffler from Bwergen County

This book came to my family's attention via a drug and alcohol rehab program; I am very concerned about the reaction my children are having to this book; the poin tfor me is that you can get clean no matter how far down you go!

Jan. 06 2014 11:57 AM
mike from astoria

The film, like Scorceses recent career is a watered down version of the past. The film does not show them actually doing the crime of dumping the penny stocks, it just shows them selling. The film is a total weak willed view of his crimes, shame on Scorcese and Terry Winters for selling out this badly.

Jan. 06 2014 11:56 AM
paulb from Prospect Heights

Thanks for citing Boiler Room! When I heard the description of Wolf of..., I thought, wait a second....

Jan. 06 2014 11:56 AM
Damon from Manhattan

It is more of a criticism of the excessess of the financial industry precisely because of the ineptitude of many of the characters featured in the movie. It undermines the perception that the financial industry relies on superior expertise and knowledge when, in fact, in some cases they are simply gambling or worse.

Jan. 06 2014 11:55 AM
Jack from Manhattan

Sheesh, what has this station come to? Criticizing who is undoubtedly this country's greatest film director. Scorsese presented in his unique style, the life and lifestyle of a group of people leaving it to the audience to apply their own moral strictures. Does Scott think audiences are so superficial that they need everything telegraphed to them with 3D, CGI'ed, Dolby enhancements?

Jan. 06 2014 11:53 AM
William from Manhattan

Who cares if "Wolf" is or is not edifying. Did Jordan Belfort get money for the rights? That would be truly repugnant.

Jan. 06 2014 11:49 AM

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