Curtain Up: “The Wolf of Wall Street”

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curtain up photo - wolfHe was a drug addict and proud of it. He was a sexual deviate and philanderer. He was a crook that cheated countless millions of gullible people out of tens of millions of dollars.

He is “The Wolf of Wall Street” as played by one of our finest actors working today: Leonardo DiCaprio.

You actually cheer for this creep that should have killed himself many times over during the years he ran a Wall Street brokerage firm called Stratton Oakmont during the early 90s, a real-life firm that bilked millions of dollars from investors.

The movie came out on Christmas day and has garnered great reviews along with a Best Actor Golden Globe award for DiCaprio, his second win among ten nominations.

With a running time of nearly three hours, this movie has no moments of silence as you witness golden boy Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) start as a naïve and virginal broker on Wall Street being introduced to perverse Wall Street abusive behavior by Matthew McConaughey, who says it’s all about “taking money from them and putting it in your own pocket,” with no regard for return on investment or return OF investment.

It would be great to say you could write fiction this compelling, and though it has exaggerated moments and aspects, the film is based on the true story of Belfort, who escaped relatively free of damage with a 36-month sentence.

With over 500 “F-bombs,” this movie is not for the faint of heart or those easily offended. It is brutal and raw, and hard to look away from.

There are some key scenes where DiCaprio shines, including two soliloquies in front of his adoring and hungry team of brokers, but the funniest scene is also one of the saddest, where our hero and his faithful sidekick, Donny Azoff (whose real-life name was Danny Porush), played with great finesse by Jonah Hill, delve into a vial of Quaalude pills (the downer barbiturate of the 70s) that had been shelved for decades.

Used to an immediate effect from the pills they had been taking, they down one, then two, then several more until they are blinded by drugs when they finally do kick in.

Our hero drives his expensive Lamborghini thinking that he did it without incident and later when sober finds it demolished as the police haul him to jail.

He returns home to find a totally messed up Donny having an indicting conversation with their money-laundering Swiss banker- while the phone is being tapped.

There are too many sad but humorous scenes to reveal them all, but when you combine great acting – and kudos to DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and newcomer blond bombshell Margot Robbie – you get an instant classic.

Director Martin Scorsese one again proves that he is not losing his touch even with 55 directing credits behind him and pushing 74 years of age.

In doing some fact checking it seems that as crazy as this movie is, it is mostly true, including crashing helicopters, paying for prostitutes on company credit cards, and office shenanigans that would cause OSHA to launch an investigation.

The movie is up for several Oscars including Best Actor for DiCaprio, Supporting Actor for Jonah Hill, Director for Scorsese and Best Picture, and screenplay for Terence Winter.

Although the film is playing in various local theaters, I viewed the movie at the PORT theater in Corona del Mar, which I describe as the “world’s largest living room,” and was able to catch a matinee just minutes before it started. With seats that afford every contortion you would want, the PORT is the best place in town to catch a movie.

Visit PortNewport.com or call (949) 723-6333.

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