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The 'Wolf of Wall Street' Debate in a Single Tweet

by Sam Adams
December 30, 2013 2:11 PM
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It's fitting that The Wolf of Wall Street arrived on Christmas Day, not only because, for many -- if not most -- critics it's a cinematic treat, but because it's provoked more great writing than any movie since 12 Years a Slave. There's Glenn Kenny's two posts on the film; The New Yorker's Richard Brody, who says it's "like mainlining cinema for three hours"; Christopher Campbell on the student short that laid out Wolf's themes 50 years in advance; Farran Smith Nehme, in Barron's, on the danger of confusing the film's Jordan Belfort with the real deal; Flavorwire's Michelle Dean on how the film evokes the dick-swinging fish stories of the business sector; Bilge Ebiri on the disjuncture between the film's "cosmic aims" and its mundane realities; and, back in The New Yorker, Rachel Syme on why Wolf is a better adaptation of The Great Gatsby than The Great Gatsby

And then there's Nick Pinkerton, with an epic take on the film in his regular "Bombast" column for Sundance Now. While many have worried about how audiences might react to the film, Pinkerton shares details of how one audience actually did, and cautions, "When we talk about the audience, we should always be talking about ourselves."

Attacks on the film persist, from critics, from those affected by Belfort's swindles, and from ordinary moviegoers, who've littered the film's Fandango page with outraged reviews. (One wonders exactly what "drnason," who says "I walked out of this movie after almost 3 hours, and I never walk out of a movie," is supposed to have walked out on -- the end credits? It recalls the apocryphal story of the moral crusader who said, "I thought it was pornography, but I watched the whole thing just to make sure.")

By now, a certain level of fatigue has set in, among those who wish they could move past debating whether or not Wolf glorifies Belfort's actions and discuss the film's finer points, and among those who have politely made it known they be happy if everyone would just shut up already. So perhaps that's why Pinkerton, who's already written so many words about the film, turned to ASCII imagery for his latest comment. Next stop, ground floor.

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  • Oliver | December 31, 2013 5:21 PMReply

    "Bring back the Production Code!" -- said by critics and audiences who really should know better.

  • SOREL | January 3, 2014 2:14 PM

    Idiot. Audiences deciding what they like or don't like is NOT censorship. It's the opposite of it.

  • SeeMe | December 31, 2013 2:12 AMReply

    tWoWS was good, actually. Underrated (like Shutter Island was). The film in my opinion is quite critical of JB's (and all the film's 'wolves' connected to Wall Street) irresponsible behavior and, in depicting such awful judgment/behavior, I felt as though Marty (MS) has held a mirror up to the faces of Americans: this is what we have [become]. He's saying, "no wonder there's unbridled chaos on Wall Street, just look at the behavior of these people. They are not being policed. We have become people who barely care about anything but getting ahead financially." And, come on, MS' direction of the WoWS actors, camera work, editing, and set design is some of his best--definitely worth the price of admission. I don't really like Leo but he was excellent--I've never seen him work so hard. And there wasn't nearly as much sex as people make it out to be and it was shown rather quickly for the most part. Masterful filmmaking. My only problem was w/the yacht-storm scene--JB's sooooooo rich, just get on a damn plane/helicopter. The drugs, I guess. Nevertheless, it was a dumb scene. Otherwise, its a solid movie that didn't seem like it was three hours long at all. MS has been so damn good for so long (people are kind of spoiled) that if it isn't a super masterpiece (which they never reward him for anyway) people are up in arms. Critically challenged MS films are still far better than 95% of the films out there. And for people to actually assert that Gangs of New York was better than tWoWS---they are doing more drugs than Jordan ever did. Now, Gangs...sucked, big time. I remember people hating Casino, literally. Now everyone loves it. Wolf will have the same result of post-appreciation. And why do critics expect the film to contain wholly women? Some of the female characters were scum just like the men. Equal opportunity screw ups. See this movie---while not expecting apologies for victims (who should have freakin' known better than to be so gullible to cold-calling salespeople anyway). Give MS a break.

  • infromthevoid | December 30, 2013 5:01 PMReply

    Her'es my review in one word: Dumb

  • steve barr | December 30, 2013 4:32 PMReply

    Wolf of Wall Street should have been called Three Hours with Pigs .

  • Gerard Kennelly | December 30, 2013 8:26 PM

    BABE was 2 hours with one pig

  • Jake | December 30, 2013 3:59 PMReply

    "Martin Scorsese makes pictures about the kinds of people you wouldn't want to know."

    That's from Variety's original (negative) review of RAGING BULL. Scorsese's been going through this for 30+ years now and it hasn't seemed to hurt any of his other great works in the long run. I'm confident that WoWS will stand the test of time just as readily as TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL, or GOODFELLAS. As it currently stands, I think it's also his defining DiCaprio collaboration (and certainly Leo's best performance ever).

  • bob hawk | December 30, 2013 11:03 PM

    JAKE: I think that it is Leo's best performance in a long time, but . . . I also feel that in WOWS he taps into (and appropriately so) some of what he evoked in GILBERT GRAPE, another "best" performance. TARANTINO: "painfully dated"??? This is a period piece! And I can watch TRUE ROMANCE and PULP FICTION again and again, for the performances alone.

  • TARANTiNO | December 30, 2013 8:27 PM

    WoWS is amazing now
    but will be painfully dated in years to come
    same as true romance or pulp fiction

  • Power to the people | December 30, 2013 2:45 PMReply

    Glad the critics like it. The film obviously does not speak to the way most Americans feel about Wall Street swindlers. I guess they're just unsophisticated.

  • and | December 30, 2013 2:52 PM

    Also, the critics unanimously praised Hugo, which was a giant piece of cinematic trash. Methinks Martin Scorsese gets a free pass by the critical establishment. I'm certainly not going to take their word for WOWS.

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