The Wolf of Wall Street

Corman

In Alex Stapleton’s documentary Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, prolific filmmaking legend Roger Corman discusses a philosophy of entertainment that he developed about a decade into his career. Corman had just made his first serious drama, the 1962 integration-themed The Intruder. The film, which he and his brother self-financed because studios wouldn’t touch it, was Corman’s first work that he felt to be truly important, and it stands today as a film without equal in its timely diagnosis of American race relations. The film also turned out to be Corman’s first indisputable box office failure. So after The Intruder, Corman changed course: he decided to continue pursuing relevant themes in his work, but maintain his dominance of American B-cinema. The text of his films would entertain audiences, but the subtext would resonate with an eye on timely social, cultural, and political issues. Corman saw his 1967 film The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, for instance, as both an entertaining gangster picture and a comment about the underground economy that develops when immigrant groups are sidelined from legitimate social mobility in a xenophobic America. The message, Corman admitted at a local Q&A this weekend, would not be apparent to all audiences. But at least it would be there. Corman was hardly the first to recognize the political power of entertainment, but the fact that one of the most prolific B-movie producers in history understood this unique potential is significant: what are supposedly the most lowbrow or expendable of movies can actually be the most […]

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Toni Servillo in THE GREAT BEAUTY

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Great Beauty (Criterion) Paolo Sorrentino’s almost plotless portrait of the glamorous nightlife of contemporary Rome may seem on the surface to be an obvious choice for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. After all, it quite deliberately follows the footsteps of La Dolce Vita as an ode not only to Rome’s vast history, but its history of cinematic glitz. Yet there’s a great deal going on below The Great Beauty’s exquisitely realized surface. Rather than a simple 21st century upgrade of Fellini’s Rome, The Great Beauty is an existential travelogue, a decadent and detailed portrayal of a place uncertain about how to realize its future as a definitive global city in the culture so content to rest its champagne-soaked laurels on its extensive reputation. We see Rome through the eyes of Toni Servillo’s Jep Gambardella, whose failure to produce a second novel after a monumental first success sets the stage for his engrossing tour of Rome’s beguiling but hollow surfaces. While it made nary an appearance on op-ed trendpieces on the topic, Sorrentino’s film belongs directly alongside 2013’s many portrayals of excess for an era of economic uncertainty. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautifully shot and edited exegesis on the sweet life. – Landon Palmer [Blu-ray/DVD extras:  Interviews with the director, lead actor, and screenwriter; deleted scenes; trailer; an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by Philip Lapote]

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The Wolf of Wall Street

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Whats Eating Gilbert Grape

Another year, another Oscar ceremony in the books. Once the booze wears off from Matthew McConaughey’s final “Alright, alright, alright,” of our year in film, we can get down to the really important part of the Oscars and start second-guessing the winners. Sunday night is all about rewarding actors and filmmakers for their hard work in the past year. Monday morning is reserved for the art of tearing down our sacred idols, convincing our coworkers that we always thought American Hustle was a little overrated or that Dallas Buyers Club was more than just a Philadelphia knock-off. And somewhere in the middle of all these conversations, someone will ask about Leonardo DiCaprio. When will the poor guy ever win an Oscar? Last month, Esquire ran a story on Leonardo DiCaprio titled “The Moment Leonardo DiCaprio Became a Man.” In a throwaway line intended to highlight his perpetually boyish good looks, his agent Rick Yorn refers to DiCaprio as a character actor in a leading man’s body. This intended compliment instead offers a great deal of insight into DiCaprio’s performances and why he is so often overshadowed by those around him. Including last night’s nomination for The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for four acting Academy Awards (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, WoWS) without taking home a single statue. During that same period, DiCaprio’s films have generated an additional eleven nominations for his co-stars and supporting cast, with Cate Blanchett and Christoph Waltz each walking away with the final prize.

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Saul Bass-Inspired Oscar Posters

Last year the folks at Mondo celebrating the Best Picture nominees with a poster series. This year, even before we see if they are doing it again (they did one for Dallas Buyers Club,  but not others), an artist/fan has already beat them to the punch with a very cool project. Tumblr artist Geminianum has created a series of posters for the Best Picture nominees in the style of the late, great Saul Bass. From a Gravity poster that calls back to Bass’ Vertigo and Anatomy of a Murder prints to a Wolf of Wall Street poster that uses both West Side Story and some Mad Men iconography, it’s a pretty fun idea. See for yourselves…

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Picture

This is it. The big one. The most coveted award in Hollywood. The one only the greatest of the great win. You know the ones I mean. The Artist, The King’s Speech, Crash, Chicago, Million Dollar Baby. Classics, all of them. It reads like a list of the best films of the 2000s don’t you think? Right? Yeah? This year sees nine nominees up for Best Picture, and a whopping two thirds are films based on true stories. Perception is such that a basis in fact would be an advantage, but while playing real people helps actors win awards, only five films based on true stories have taken home Best Picture in the past two decades. I’m guessing this year will make six. As has been the case since the Academy opened this category to more than five nominees, we once again have a field of players stuffed with titles well out of their depths (sorry Nebraska), so while there are nine titles listed, there are realistically only three contenders. Keep reading for a look at all of this year’s nominees for Best Picture along with my predicted winner in red…

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Adapted Screenplay

Don’t tell anyone, but the screenplay categories, both original and adapted, remain the only Oscar contests that truly matter to me. It’s not just my respect for the written word or any personal interest I may have in the art form, instead it’s the understanding that the script is the singular basis from which every other element of a film builds. Adapted screenplays have the additionally daunting task of taking an existing creation, whether it be a book, article, or television show, and crafting something new, compact, and wholly its own. All but one of this year’s nominees are adapting a nonfiction memoir, while the fifth is a sequel. Keep reading for a look at all five of this year’s nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay along with my predicted winner in red…

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Kinostarts - "Dallas Buyers Club"

All we need now is for Shia Labeouf to streak across the stage of the Dolby Theatre during the 2014 Academy Awards, copying Robert Opel’s famous stunt of 40 years ago as a bold bit of promotion for Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, to make this year’s event possibly the most controversy-laden of all time. Or throw in an honorary Oscar for Roman Polanski, give another special tribute to Elia Kazan or give Best Picture to a Frank Capra film. Let Michael Moore on stage to criticize Obama, Sacheen Littlefeather to protest The Lone Ranger‘s nomination and have Rob Lowe back to ruin his resurrected career by dancing this time with all of the Disney princesses. Actually, we’re probably pretty set with controversies for the 86th Academy Awards show, which will be held only three weeks from now. From a nominee’s disqualification to the usual issues with documentary contenders, from complaints about a specific drama’s depiction of and its actors’ sensitivity to the LGBT population to problems with one of the Academy’s most recognized filmmakers, we might be in store for some extra picketing or contentious remarks or any number of other surprises on March 2nd. Let’s look at what we’ve got so far in the controversy basket below. 

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12 Years a Slave

The visuals of 12 Years a Slave are stunning, often unflinching, and this week we’ve invited cinematographer (and frequent Steve McQueen collaborator) Sean Bobbitt to explain how he challenged millions with his imagery. Plus, Geoff and I talk about The Wolf of Wall Street‘s capability to turn good people into quaalude-hungry maniacs and answer a hypothetical question about saving only one 2014 movie from destruction (by quaalude-hungry maniacs). You should follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #45 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Oscars 2014

Hopefully you’re all wearing your tuxedos and evening gowns because, as we all know, Thursday morning before sunrise is the best time to get fancy. Feel no shame about that 5am martini. Unless it’s your fourth. Because you’re behind. And you might need something strong for the announcement of the nominees for the 86th annual Academy Awards.

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Avengers Coulson Death

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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jonah hill wolf of wall street

If there’s one thing I’ll feel is missing in tonight’s Golden Globes ceremony (even more than an award for best documentary), it’s Jonah Hill‘s name in the supporting actor category. I’ve still not seen a few of the movies represented in that group so I can’t say Hill deserves it more than those nominees, but he is my pick for the best supporting actor of last year and he certainly belongs in the bunch more than Bradley Cooper. The question is whether Hill might earn an Oscar nomination in place of Cooper, or perhaps they’d both be excluded in place of, say, James Gandolfini. Both Cooper and Hill are actors who started out in comedy who have been recognized once each for their moves into dramatic work and who now are basically back with comedic performances in contention for the Academy Award. And that’s a tough nut to crack. Comedy has always been a tough nut with the Oscars in general. It’s not ignored, not at all, definitely not as much as some would think, but it is true that what slips through is mostly hybrid movies, dramas with a good helping of comedy or drier comedies that have some dramatic elements. More common, actually, is comedic performances, especially in the supporting acting categories. That’s where we tend to find traditionally comedic talents earning nominations and often awards for providing the comic relief in a drama. Think Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost, Octavia Spencer in The Help and Alan Arkin in […]

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Gravity

Last year I took on the Golden Globes for the first time, did my research and made my assumptions, and my predictions wound up with only 9 out of 14 winners chosen correctly. This year I’m going more with my gut. I’m also going to have a try with the TV categories since we’ve been covering more and more of that stuff here at FSR. We’ll find out how well I do in my sophomore effort when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association holds its 71st Golden Globe Awards tomorrow night with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting. You should join me then for as-it-happens updated coverage on this site. I’m not calling it a “live blog.” It’ll be more like a concurring review of the show and results. I can’t guarantee that my predictions are going to help you win any bets or pools, but I’ll offer a friendly wager with anyone who thinks they can beat my score. Gimme your best shot in the comments.

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Wolf of Wall Street Band

From the moment we saw Leonard DiCaprio bust a move in the trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street (creating one of the best gifs of 2013), it was clear the movie knew how to party. Martin Scorsese’s latest tells the provocative true story of former Wall Street stockbroker Jordan Belfort (played by DiCaprio) – a man who did not hold back when it came to his ambition, drug addiction, insatiable greed, and throwing some of the wildest parties both inside and outside of the office. The Kanye West beat that pulsates throughout that trailer (making it one of our favorites of last year) set the tone for this non-stop party atmosphere, but the musical choices throughout the movie itself (and those highlighted on the film’s soundtrack) are as unpredictable as Belfort after downing multiple handfuls of Quaaludes. The Wolf of Wall Street takes audiences back to the early 1990s where, in the wake of the stock market crash of 1987, ambitious Belfort sets his sights on exploiting penny stocks and begins to make a name (and buckets of cash) for himself. Despite the setting, the film isn’t jam packed with tunes from the decade (not to say they aren’t there) opting to instead focus on the blues with songs from artists such as Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, and Cannonball Adderley.

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400920-jordan-belfort

You know him and hate him as the loud-mouthed financial superstar portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. Well get ready, gang, because Jordan Belfort is potentially coming to television in a reality show currently getting shopped around the networks. It makes sense, because if anyone could embody the unofficial slogan of the reality TV world, “I’m not here to make friends,” it’s probably Belfort. While audiences have been enthralled with Belfort’s story told through the Martin Scorsese film (or not), fellow rich guy and Electus CEO Chris Grant read the source material — Belfort’s memoir of the same name — and saw a natural born star in his real-life version. You see, he’s not just the man who scammed investors out of $110 million throughout the 1990s and partied with a guy who probably looked vaguely like Jonah Hill, he’s now a “successful motivational speaker” living and working out of Los Angeles after serving time for his crimes.

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2013review_trailers

What were the best trailers of the year trying to sell? Movies and moods and ideas and awards and stars and sexiness and just a lot of great music. And maybe, just maybe, something more (read: more movie tickets). Not every great trailer advertises a great film, but sometimes even the most lackluster productions can gift movie fans with two minutes of cinematic glory (all the better if said trailer can include Kanye West screaming or Nicole Kidman redefining “cold” or even the glories of street dancing) worth lauding all on their own. This year saw a vast batch of standout trailers, and while our listing of best trailers of the year is nothing if not varied, all of the videos contained within share one key element – they effectively conveyed tone and feeling without revealing too much about plot and characters. As mini mood pieces, these thirteen trailers nailed it, as bits of marketing, they made us want to buy and buy big time.  What were the best trailers of the year trying to sell? Oh, it doesn’t matter – we were ready to buy.

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the wolf of wall street bottom line

The Wolf of Wall Street is a big, sprawling, tragi-comedy about very bad people doing very bad things. Some are legal and some aren’t, but they’re all guaranteed to offend someone somewhere. One viewer at the AMPAS screening in L.A. actually confronted director Martin Scorsese with a “Shame on you!” and a finger wag. Ornery octogenarians aside, the film has received a generally favorable response with praise for the film’s high energy and performances from the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, and Matthew McConaughey. But in addition to the reviews, both positive and negative, there have also been a handful of specific (and occasionally accusatory) claims made against the movie and filmmakers that lack much in the way of critical thinking. For example, The Wolf of Wall Street…

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still-of-vin-diesel-in-boiler-room-(2000)-large-picture

The Wolf of Wall Street isn’t a remake. Well, not exactly. It definitely isn’t a remake of the other movie titled The Wolf of Wall Street, from 1929, which stars George Bancroft as a man who gets rich in the copper trade and then loses it all through a misunderstanding with his partner, whom he believes is having an affair with his wife. That sounds like something Martin Scorsese would make, or something we’d want to watch after seeing the latest work by him. Unfortunately, the old film is almost entirely lost. Just a little bit of surviving montage material can be exclusively found on a DVD called Unseen Cinema. WoWS is also not a remake of Scorsese’s early short film It’s Not Just You, Murray!, which I posted yesterday and called a template for this new feature. The true story that WoWS is based on has been made into a movie before, though, and you can read about that and 11 other titles I recommend you check out after you’ve seen Scorsese’s latest. As always, the following list may contain SPOILERS for the plot of WoWS, as it is intended to be a discussion of the new movie’s plot points as well as similar precursors and earlier works from people involved.

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wows12

Martin Scorsese is one of the best directors to work for if you want an Oscar nomination for acting. Over the past 40 years, he has helped his stars earn a total of 20 nominations spread out over the performance categories, and you may be surprised to hear that half of those went to women. Yes, the filmmaker who has occasionally been accused of being a misogynist and who tends to make movies led by men (often undoubtedly misogynistic men), is pretty good at finding strong actresses for his leading ladies — or he’s good at making them appear to be very talented, whether they are or not. Margot Robbie, who plays the dynamic trophy wife of Leonardo DiCaprio’s scumbag stock broker in The Wolf of Wall Street, ought to be the next in line in this tradition, and yet she’s not being talked about for an Academy Award at all. Robbie’s performance in the movie is one of the standouts of the year for me, though I have to admit this is partly because I’d never heard of nor seen her before. The actress isn’t quite as out of nowhere as 12 Years a Slave breakout Lupita Nyong’o (pretty much a sure thing for the supporting actress win at this point), especially if you’re a fan of the Australian soap opera Neighbours or if you gave the American TV drama Pan Am a shot, but she is a fresh face in Hollywood, and between WoWS and About Time she’s […]

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Not Just You Murray

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. Like most filmmakers of his generation, Martin Scorsese went to film school (NYU in his case), and there he made a number of shorts during the course of his training and study. A few of these student films survive, including 1963’s What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?, which may be his earliest use of a narrator telling his life story in the first person. This is the structure he uses once again with his latest feature, The Wolf of Wall Street. But the protagonist of that 50-year-old 9-minute effort (which you can find all over YouTube) bears little similarity with the one Leonardo DiCaprio plays in the new movie. Scorsese’s following student film, 1964’s It’s Not Just You, Murray! (the young director clearly liked punctuated titles at the time), features a few more parallels and even seems like a template for a number of later works, including Goodfellas, Casino and now The Wolf of Wall Street. The fact that It’s Not Just You, Murray! is about gangsters aligns it more with the former two films. But I believe we’re supposed to think of The Wolf of Wall Street as a kind of gangster film — or at least a crime film, which is often the same thing. Where the early short and the very long new feature start off being alike […]

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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