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‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (Martin Scorsese, 2013)

It’s hard to place a film like The Wolf of Wall Street in the context of any sort of awards campaign. It feels too stylistically fresh, too dynamic and alive to be seriously invited in with the typical combination of sober ‘important’ pictures and prestige try-hards. Besides relaxing back into that most elemental of themes, greed, I’ve got to credit the crew, first and foremost, for delivering simply the funniest cinema experience I’ve had in a while. Forget your studio comedies, three hours with Scorsese, DiCaprio and every narcotic under the sun had an audience of two hundred crying with laughter in a way too rarely seen.

Leonardo DiCaprio, fresh from the Golden Globe win, deserves everything coming his way. A coke fuelled monster with none of the humanity or fundamental decency of his fellow swindler from Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can, Jordan Belfort is a cold-hearted charisma machine, seduced away from the normal world by the lure of drugs, money and power. It’s a tour-de-force performance; probably the best of an impressive career, combining the magnetism of a raucous stand-up set with expertly staged sequences of physical comedy.

As with the misplaced smears thrown in the direction of Zero Dark Thirty last spring, a stark contrast remains between depicting events and condoning them. Sickened by how far these degenerates have drifted from any sort of acceptable human behaviour or moral compass, Martin Scorsese (+ screenwriter Terence Winter) might engage with, often even revel in these obscene behaviours, but there’s always a condemnatory eyebrow raised from behind the camera, always a supporting character willing to prick the bubble and question the acceptability of this lifestyle. Like Scorsese’s own Goodfellas, there’s no shortage of crippling consequence to the debauchery and crimes, enough to rightly question any accusations on the films part of overtly celebrating a life at the limits of excess.

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