Monday, December 23, 2013
They’re half right.
Two hours of this film is spectacular. Great scenes, wonderful performances, sharp dialogue, funny lines, and nudity.
What you ultimately have here is GOOD FELLAS with Italian suits. All the cocaine, paranoia, and Lorraine Bracco/brunette/townie/first wife were there, but none of the fun extreme violence and crowd-pleasing gunplay. It was the world’s longest episode of WHITE COLLAR.
Along the way there are sensational scenes. Matthew McConaughey gives his best performance EVER in a lunch sequence with star Leo DiCaprio. Leo invites FBI agent, Kyle Chandler to his yacht for a one-on-one and every moment is delicious. (By the way, my daughter Annie observed that since he won an Emmy, every movie that Kyle Chandler is in he wears a badge.) Leo gives a speech to his staff that is mesmerizing. Unfortunately, he gives five more speeches. And that’s the problem. Many of the scenes get repeated.
Scorsese is a master of detail and as usual every shot is a work of art. Scenes are beautifully cut to get the maximum impact. But the job of a director is more. Ultimately, he has to keep the big picture in mind. He has to tell the overall story in a way that holds our interest. It’s not enough to grab us at the beginning (which he always does masterfully), he has to keep the story compelling. It’s a tough job, especially when your film is three hours. And that’s where Marty dropped the ball with this one. The story just goes and goes and goes, told in a very straightforward linear fashion. After awhile you're checking your watch.
I’m sure many film critics would disagree. I’m just not smart enough or sophisticated enough to appreciate the brilliance of Mr. Scorsese. The theme and commentary on the state of America were too far above a Joe Lunch Pail like me. One reviewer called him a “master storyteller.” Uh huh. Another reviewer gushed that “it holds nothing back.” To me, that’s the problem. Other critics tossed around words like “visionary,” “epic artistry,” and “genius.” Of course they also said that about THE AVIATOR.
Still, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is worth seeing. Just not worth running to see. Just know you’re in for a long ride. But along the way you’ll be treated to some great sequences. And if too many orgy scenes are one of the biggest problems, this isn’t the worst movie you’ll see this year. Or even this week.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM