Day 117: The Wolf of Wall Street


I had good intentions, moving Best Picture Nominated Movie night to Sunday, thinking I’d be able to watch the movies earlier in the day and get the blog post out in a timely manner. That hasn’t exactly worked out like I’d planned! Severe weather moving into the Joplin area, with tornadoes touching down, moved movie watching this evening to a later time. I’d just come out of a restaurant with family as the tornado sirens sounded. My weather spotting class served me well as I identified the wall cloud to the west and we watched as a small tornado spun out from that low hanging cloud and dropped to the ground. We sought shelter with a neighbor who has a storm shelter, although truth be told, we all gathered instead outside the garage to see what happened. The tornado stayed to the west and moved off toward the north. Heart pumping event, indeed!

And for tonight, I had The Wolf of Wall Street, with a run time of almost three hours! I have to say, this movie held the least interest for me, out of the nine nominated films. Once committed, there is no turning back for me, so after the weather scare and then meeting clients to sign a contract, I settled down to watch this movie.

The Wolf of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler and Rob Reiner and was directed by Martin Scorsese. It was nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Actor for DiCaprio, Best Supporting Actor for Hill, Best Director for Scorsese, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. It did not win in any categories. The film is rated R and has a run time of 2 hours and 59 minutes.

This was a challenging movie for me to watch. And while I really can’t recommend it, due to its well deserved R rating for strong profanity, nudity, sexual situations and heavy portrayal of drug use, it is a film that doesn’t hold back in showing what a life lived in excess looks like. It’s not pretty, or glamorous. It literally made me feel ill, and deeply uncomfortable, watching a brilliant, charismatic man take himself down a path of destruction.

Based on actual events, this film follows the life of Jordon Belfort, a young Wall Street stockbroker desperate for glory, fame and wealth. Lots of wealth. He admits, as his character narrates the movie, that he is an addicted man. Yes, he has addictions to drugs, alcohol, women and an over the top lifestyle. But he reveals his deepest addiction as he pulls a $100 bill from his pocket and unfolds it. He couldn’t get enough of the green stuff. The sad thing is, Jordon Belfort was a gifted speaker and salesman, with the confidence and drive to succeed on Wall Street. He chose to amass his wealth by taking shortcuts that defrauded his investors. He had amazing leadership qualities and a compassionate heart that was revealed in the way he treated his employees. But his addiction drove him to acquiring more and more money and that compassionate heart was never extended toward his clients. All addictions lead to ruin, and Jordon was eventually arrested for fraud. He received leniency and a short prison term in exchange for supplying information about his colleagues. After prison, sober and clean, Belfort now makes a living hosting financial seminars, writing books, and speaking.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hall give fine, albeit dark and gritty, performances. And interestingly, the real life Jordan Belfort has a brief cameo near the end of the film. There are nuggets of deeper truths distributed throughout this film, if one can bear to witness the destruction of lives because of Jordon’s cardinal rule: you deal with your problems by becoming rich.  There is not enough money in the world to buy the solutions or the kind of happiness that Jordon sought. I can only hope the real life Mr. Belfort truly has learned that lesson.

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