There is nothing like the thrill of seeing a new Martin Scorsese film. Re-teaming with his new muse Leonardo Dicaprio making it their fifth film together, based on the memoir of Jordan Belfort The Wolf of Wall Street is about, a stock broker convicted of fraud crimes due to stock market manipulation, tells the tale of a man discovering sin on all leaves and loving every minute of it. It has got some heat of recent from being unsympathetic to the victims of Belfort’s antics while relishing in his dirty deeds, however this is Scorsese jumps straight in to Belford’s shoes and so doesn’t reflect that because Belford doesn’t himself. This is also why it seems to feel intoxicated by all the sex and drugs and the lifestyle onscreen but yet still mentions the humour making Wolf of Wall Street a dark satire. Marty is on full Goodfellas mood that feels both nostalgic and fresh all at once with an energy that is kinetic.
Packed full to the brim with great performance most of all the central one from Dicaprio going full throttle, firing on all cylinders keeping the momentum going from the extremely long running time. Embracing the chaos he is the heart and soul of the film whether you like that heart or not. Jonah Hill is plays Belford’s right hand man Donnie who with his huge white teeth is gloriously loathsome. Arguably more out of control than man who he looks up to, hanging on his coat tails, he reminded me with is curly hair and repulsive attitude of Sean Penn from Carlitos Way. Kyle Chandler is great as the FBI agent who desperately wants to take him down and Margot Robbie as his trophy wife is perfectly solid in the role but is given very little to do, which is kind of ironic as that is all she is to Belford anyway. Matthew McConaughey nearly steals the film with his one scene towards the beginning. Essentially seducing the main character and showing him the ropes of how to a corporate thieves. It’s a stand out scene that sums up most of the film within the first ten minutes of a three-hour film and that lays the problem with The Wolf of Wall Street. IT’S TOO DAMN LONG. Sorry for stating the obvious and for typing it in block capitals but it’s what lets down an otherwise excellent film.
It a common problem with films based on a real life person, it tends to have a responsibility to be as truthful as possible with a narrative that isn’t concise and flowing as if it was entirely fictional. Its a unfair criticism I know, but biopics tend to be all about the performances with individual stand out scenes without a well paced narrative. Just a sequence of events and The Wolf of Wall Street, with all its crazy drug fuelled escapades and sex parties, is no exception. It boils down to a fun watch but overstays its welcome by quite some time. Of course there is a lot to go through, but it all gets messy when you’re introduced to the female lead an hour into a film. With lavish weddings, shady deals and Jean Dujardin hiding money in a Swiss bank accounts while running from the law, I was just waiting for it to reach its conclusion and that’s never a good thing..
I have mixed thoughts on Django Unchained. On on hand Quentin Tarantino’s take at a spaghetti western (although set in the south of America making a southern) Opening up to the theme from the 1966 Italian western Django by Roberto Fia, it nods at the source witch inspired it while tuckering the issue of slavery. As you’d expect with a new Tarantino movie, it is largely enjoyable with its snappy dialogue, over the top violence, larger than life characters and a soundtrack made up of old school and contemporary records. One the other hand however, it is way too long and is a key example of a film maker in love with his own work. Set in 1852, two years before the American civil war when slavery was legal, Jamie Foxx plays Django, a slave who’s been separated from his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Christoph Waltz’s Dr King Schultz, a bounty hunter who needs Django to identify three brothers wanted for murder, frees him and in return he will help find and reunite him with Broomhilda, who is at a plantation called Candyland owned by Calvin Candie (leonardo Dicaprio), a slave owner who forces his male slaves to fight to the death for money in a Mandingo fighting ring. The due hatch a convoluted plan and pose as potential buyers of a fighter wile offering to purchase Broomhilda in the process.
There are lots to like about Django Unchained, for one, it’s littered with great performances. Jamie Foxx is great as the title character, playing it cool as what is essentially a black Clint Eastwood. Decaprio relishes in a King Louis XIV role, ruling is fiefdom as a spoilt prince that is so bigoted and pompous. Waltz is his charismatic self keeping to the same performance he did in Inglorious Bastards as the unorthodox bounty hunter Schultz. He is charming, sophisticated and polite while deadly at the same time. Washington is solid but isn’t given much to do as does Walton Goggins as one of Candie’s cronies Billy Crash. Which in a 2 hour 45 minute movie is not given much screen time and feels like a wast of what could have been a great villein role, and that’s a shame. Samuel L. Jackson however walks away with the film as Candie’s head slave Stephen, who has nothing but love for his master and is the brains behind Candyland. It is most fully rounded complex character that Tarantino has ever written, paralleling the relationship between Django and Schultz with Stephen and Clavin. While being at Calvin’s servant, in private Stephen is more of a father figure to him and Jackson is fantastically intimating as him. The action is gloriously cartoonish and is full of fun and blood and the usage of songs from 2pac to Johnny Cash borrowing past movie scores from Morricone and Goldsmith works well. However as enjoyable these aspects are, it would be nice for Tarantino to move away from avenues he has been down before
The fIlms running length is an issue, as the story does feel stretched out with its own ideas (do we really need the german legend of Brunhilde/Broomhilda explained to us) Particularly in the middle section where our heroes take the journey to Candyland. This is mainly down to the script as it does seem that some trimming needed doing in the writing process. As the peace fits together as a whole but takes too long to do so as there are scenes that justifies one plot point at a time which bogs the film down from what it could have been an easy 2 hour flick. The use Despite the length and the pacing issues, Django Unchained is an enjoyable experience, just a drawn out one..