• http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Chris/ Chris

    I think the last shot turns the camera on us as an audience for finding pleasure in Belforts chaos. We all may despise his actions and choices, but we all would love to be him...beyond wealthy.

    Chris

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Chris/ Chris

      Brad, forgot to say, but amazing article. One of the best I've read online in a while.

      Also, where did you find that photo/poster? I'd love that to be the DVD/Blu-ray cover art.

      • Adnan Ahmed

        Agreed, that is a sweet poster.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

        Can't really remember, found it on the Internet. You won't find a very big version anywhere as far as I know.

    • Geri

      No, some of us have more refined moral compass. I want my life to be nothing whatsoever like Belfort, but that doesn't mean I didn't find the film immensely entertaining.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Chris/ Chris

        That's kind of what I mean. You found his debauchery entertaining and you loved taking part in it. Sorry I should've said we would all love to be like him...beyond wealthy.

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3769949/ thatpj

      Yup. Nailed it.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kathrynlynn/ kathrynlynn

      I think you're right. That last shot really turns to the audience and puts the ball in our court. What a despicable life... exploiting people, filthy rich, destroying the body and relationships... and yet... a captive audience waiting to hear how they too can get that.

      And I think there's a naive way of looking at it saying of course we would never become EXACTLY like that... but none of us are immune when given the resources...

  • http://letterboxd.com/gman/ G-Man

    I almost went to that screening with the Wall Street folks a couple weeks back (at my home theater!) but the work holiday party got in the way - womp womp.

    People have been rooting for villainous characters for years in movies - don't know why this is being made such a big deal of now. The director's job in my mind is to make as entertaining of a movie as possible - period. Martin Scorsese knocked my socks off and I can't wait to watch this one again.

    There are tons of movies where the villainous / bad behavior is glorified in my opinion (e.g. Lab Abiding Citizen, Prisoners, Project X).

  • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

    Great article, you've practically taken the words right out of my mouth.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/loxmang/ loxmang

    I don't think it glorifies this behavior any more than goodfellas glorifies the mob and murder. They are what they are and its for our own morals to decide. Personally id feel he were doing a disservice to the viewers if he didnt let us decide for ourselves.

    I do love the post, my only issue is didn't you hate on Michael Bay and Pain and Gain for basically the same reasons as these other critics mentioned above?

    • Drew Sandoval

      RE Pain and Gain. There is this screenwriting podcast I listen to, and they always say "We hate terrible cliches... unless they're done well."

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Hudsucker/ Hudsucker

        What podcast is that? I'm always on the prowl for something new to listen to.

        • Drew Sandoval

          Scriptnotes podcast. you can get it on iTunes and john august.com. In it John August (big fish, charlie's angels) and Craig Mazain (Identety Thief, Hangover 2&3) talk the nuts and bolts of being a working screenwriter. Good stuff.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      The Pain & Gain comparison is interesting, but I'm not talking quality here, just interpretation and I feel I attempted to fairly interpret what Bay was doing in the film in my review.

      I do think there is something to be said for not only attempting something, but doing it well and I'd argue Scorsese mops the floor with Bay in this example.

    • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

      Pain & Gain has a variety of other issues with it (Michael Bay's obnoxious style, poorly constructed message, etc.). But, what I wrote in my review of WOWS is that what Scorsese was able to do with his film is essentially what Bay tried to do with his film (of course, Bay failed).

  • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk

    Fantastic editorial, Brad. You crushed it right here. Smaug would be proud.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/MovieFan/ Israel Valencia

    Great article Brad, I think that's why Scorsese makes Jordan break the fourth wall as a form of treating the audience like the hundreds of stockbrokers Jordan controls with every word he says

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

    I am one of the people who found the film extremely disturbing, but NOT for the reasons you cite. I don't agree with the way you frame the two sides of the conversation at the beginning of the article.

    It's abundantly clear that the filmmakers are in no way "glorifying" or attempting to "glamorize" the characters behavior or lifestyle. The intent is to condemn, there's no question about that. One of the key problems I had with the film is the decision to make it a comedy. Here are a few excerpts from my review, which I think get my point across:

    "Wolf wants to have its cake and eat it too, and it asks us to not
    only to be appalled by the debauchery on display (which loses most of
    its impact early on) but that we laugh along with the characters.... The filmmakers, it seems, are unaware of the inherent contradiction of
    condemning an odious lifestyle, and then inviting their audience to join
    in the fun."

    "It’s important to note that it is possible to depict misogynistic
    characters, doing horribly misogynistic things, without embracing their
    vile acts. But to linger at length, as Scorsese does, on toned and
    voluptuous naked female flesh crosses the Rubicon of critical satire. It
    would be one thing if the film sexually objectified all of its
    characters in the same way, but female genitalia is the exclusive focus
    of Scorsese’s voyeuristic lens (the only instance in which male frontal
    nudity is shown is – of course - played up for laughs)."

    "Women are regularly humiliated, embarrassed and degraded for comic
    effect. Such is the case in a scene in which a female character begins
    masturbating herself to taunt her panting husband, only for the husband
    get the last laugh by revealing that her sexual act was being filmed and
    broadcast to the bodyguards downstairs."

    There are many other examples of the same thing, where Scorsese and DiCaprio ask us to laugh at the expense of the victims. That's where much of the films' "humor" comes from. Another running gag features Hill complaining about how miserable his wife makes him. We're supposed to laugh at this, and many do.

    And as I note:

    "There’s nothing funny about domestic violence, about conning people out
    of their lifesavings, or about commodifying and objectifying women. But
    Terence Winter, who also created HBO’s Boardwalk Empire (a show
    that uses women to similar affect; exploiting them for dramatic reasons
    and then disposing of them – often brutally - when their purpose has
    been served), would have us believe it’s all one big sick joke. This
    writer, however, wasn’t laughing.

    The films' defenders like to assert that the "jokes" all revolve around the "idiocy" of the characters. But that's only 50% of the humor. The rest of the time we're meant to laugh at the humiliation of innocent people (often women) - Wolf's defenders seem to characterize this as laughing at "the absurdity of it all".... very curious way to frame it.

    And when you consider the way Winter characterizes women in his previous work and the way Scorsese needlessly objectifies the bodies of naked women, it seems clear to me that Wolf of Wall Street has more in common with its characters than it would like to admit.

    • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

      I won't comment on the misogyny for the time being...

      But, in regards to your point here: "where Scorsese and DiCaprio ask us to laugh at the expense of the victims. That's where much of the films' "humor" comes from."

      Isn't this essentially what films have been doing since the beginning of the medium?

      I'll contextualize it for you with one of your favorite films: Pulp Fiction.

      Let's not forget that there is a scene in the film where a man is shot in the face, his head explodes, and then the scene and its resolution is played for laughs. Tarantino does this throughout all of his films. I mean, I could go on and on here...

      How is this any different from what Wolf does? The director is getting you, the audience member, to laugh at something horrific. As an intelligent person, you recognize the horror at what is occurring, but still laugh, either out of nervousness (not really in Wolf's case), or possibly do the the absurdity (more likely in Wolf's case).

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        The character who gets his head blown off is a criminal. This is the case in most instances I can think of in which QT asks an audience to laugh at violence brought against another character. Your argument doesn't hold water. Does QT ask us to laugh as slaves are brutalized and murdered in Django? No. Does he ask us to laugh as Jews are killed by Nazis in Basterds? No. But Scorsese asks us to laugh as women are regularly humiliated in Wolf. Very different situation. But nice try.

        I won't comment on the misogyny for the time being...

        And so my point stands.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

          "Does he ask us to laugh as Jews are killed by Nazis in Basterds? No."

          Landa is considered to be a rather funny character, yet rather despicable.

          • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

            *double post*

        • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

          Landa is considered to be a rather funny character, yet rather despicable.

          Good point.

          The character who gets his head blown off is a criminal.

          Okay, so a few things here.

          By this logic, you're essentially saying that since the person who the violence is being committed against is immoral, laughing at him is acceptable. I would find such logic to be hypocritical, since it is still wrong and immoral to commit violence against any individual, even if the person is absolutely despicable.

          Now, this is not an issue for me, since what I'm arguing is that when presented in the parameters of a film or a movie, it is acceptable for the director to get a person to laugh at a horrible atrocity committed against someone, whether good or bad, if there is a greater point to it. And I think I've already made clear what this purpose is in Wolf.

          Does QT ask us to laugh as slaves are brutalized and murdered in Django? No. Does he ask us to laugh as Jews are killed by Nazis in Basterds? No. But Scorsese asks us to laugh as women are regularly humiliated in Wolf.

          This is absolutely true.

          But, now, I'll throw out two more relevant examples that again I know are some of your favorite films: American Psycho and A Clockwork Orange.

          I briefly touched upon this on Letterboxd, but to continue here, you can't tell me that Christian Bale running down his apartment hallway butt-naked while holding a chainsaw as he's about to kill an innocent woman isn't intended as some form of dark comedy.

          And you can't tell me that Alex DeLarge killing a woman with a giant penis isn't intended as some form of dark comedy either.

          And furthermore, this goes hand in hand with Brad's point above, that the two leads of these films are rather funny, yet rather despicable simultaneously.

          This dichotomy is something that director's have been doing since the invention of the medium, and I find it odd to suddenly point the blame at Wolf of Wall Street.

          And so my point stands.

          Only reason I didn't comment on the misogyny for the time being is that I'd like to see the film again before taking a definitive stance. For the time being, I will say that there is a difference between portraying misogyny and being actively misogynistic. I think Wolf would fall into the category of the former.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

            By this logic, you're essentially saying that since the person who the violence is being committed against is immoral, laughing at him is acceptable.

            Yes, more acceptable.

            I would find such logic to be hypocritical, since it is still wrong and immoral to commit violence against any individual, even if the person is absolutely despicable.

            Well, that’s a separate issue entirely, and if you wanted to argue that Pulp Fiction is disgusting and immoral, I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you. As an audience, we feel more comfortable laughing at the demise (or humiliation) of a guilty party vs. an innocent party. Look no further than the final 20 minutes of Killer Joe for evidence of this. Now, if you feel uncomfortable laughing at anyone’s misfortune, regardless of guilt or innocence, than that’s perfectly acceptable, and again, I wouldn’t disagree. It’s a question of justification for me. What justification do we have for laughing at the misfortune of innocents in Wolf? None, I’d say, and thus I didn’t find
            any of that funny and it was disturbing that I was even being asked to laugh at it.

            it is acceptable for the director to get a person to
            laugh at a horrible atrocity committed against someone, whether good or bad, if there is a greater point to it.

            And as I say, I do not feel it’s acceptable to laugh at the
            abuse of innocents. I think that’s practically the definition of immoral. There’s also the bigger question of perspective/attitude. Does Scorsese or Winter even recognize that it’s in any wrong to laugh at that nanny-cam scene? Doesn’t seem like it. Does Scorsese realize the extent to which his camera needlessly lingers on naked women from start to finish? Doesn’t seem like it. He is a heterosexual white man, after all, and I’m sure he was wasn’t exactly blushing while editing some of those sequences.

            you can't tell me that Christian Bale running down
            his apartment hallway butt-naked while holding a chainsaw as he's about to kill an innocent woman isn't intended as some form of dark comedy.

            I absolutely would tell you that. As you may or may not
            know, American Psycho is considered both a comedy and a horror film (if Blockbuster was still around, you’d find it in the Horror section). Much of it plays as a comedy, but just when you’re getting comfortable with the characters, shockingly brutal violence gets thrust in your face. I was terrified/disturbed when I first saw that chainsaw scene and probably still would be if I watched it again. I did NOT find that funny in any way.

            And you can't tell me that Alex DeLarge killing a
            woman with a giant penis isn't intended as some form of dark comedy either.

            And as you well know, there is much debate about whether Stanley Kubrick was a misogynist or not, and there is compelling evidence that he was. So IF he was, ACO would be one of the most misogynistic movies ever made (and it might be). But regarding the scene you referenced: Did you actually laugh during that? I can’t say I did and I don’t know many who would (not that I talk to a large number of people about ACO on a regular basis, mind you…).

            And furthermore, this goes hand in hand with Brad's point above, that the two leads of these films are rather funny, yet rather despicable simultaneously.

            This dichotomy is something that director's have
            been doing since the invention of the medium, and I find it odd to suddenly point the blame at Wolf of Wall Street.

            And as you’ll note, my criticisms do not lie with the fact
            that the characters are meant to be likeable or charismatic. I have no problem with this.

            I will say that there is a difference between
            portraying misogyny and being actively misogynistic.

            As you may remember, I pointed out this distinction in my review.

            • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

              Now, if you feel uncomfortable laughing at anyone’s misfortune, regardless of guilt or innocence, than that’s perfectly acceptable, and again, I wouldn’t disagree. It’s a question of justification for me.

              I was just playing devil's advocate there. I don't feel uncomfortable laughing at anyone's misfortune (good or bad), assuming there is a point to it all.

              What justification do we have for laughing at the misfortune of innocents in Wolf? None, I’d say, and thus I didn’t find any of that funny and it was disturbing that I was even being asked to laugh at it.

              Again, this is just a key point we're going to have to agree to disagree on. Sure, many of the people we laugh at may be innocent, but I felt as though it was an integral part of the film and its message.

              As you may or may notknow, American Psycho is considered both a comedy and a horror film (if Blockbuster was still around, you’d find it in the Horror section). Much of it plays as a comedy, but just when you’re getting comfortable with the characters, shockingly brutal violence gets thrust in your face. I was terrified/disturbed when I first saw that chainsaw scene and probably still would be if I watched it again. I did NOT find that funny in any way.

              Agree to disagree. What I do find interesting though is that according to the commentary track on the film's DVD release, director Marry Harron claims that Christian Bale improvised many of the mannerisms and dance moves before killing Paul Allen, to which she responded on set by laughing hysterically. Different scenes, but same principal I illustrated above.

              And as you well know, there is much debate about whether Stanley Kubrick was a misogynist or not

              I'm not so sure there's "much debate" about this topic (except for maybe Shelley Duvall's role in The Shining), but okay. I'll go down this rabbit hole.

              But regarding the scene you referenced: Did you actually laugh during that? I can’t say I did and I don’t know many who would

              The first time I saw the film was many years ago, so I don't remember my initial reaction to it. I will say though that when I showed the movie to two friends, they both laughed during the Singin' in the Rain scene (specifically at Malcom's "dance moves").

              And what I do find interesting is this on set image I found of Kubrick and Co. filming the rape scene and laughing: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m4b3hn8rEN1qk5o5fo1_1280.jpg

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                director Marry Harron claims that Christian Bale improvised many of the mannerisms and dance moves
                before killing Paul Allen, to which she responded on set by laughing hysterically. Different scenes, but same principal I illustrated above.

                Yes, it’s funny until he plunges an axe into Allen’s head. Then it becomes disturbing…. And from what you’re describing, it sounds like she was laughing at the dancing, not the actual violence.

                I'm not so sure there's "much debate" about this topic (except for maybe Shelley Duvall's role in The Shining), but okay.

                A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut all received criticisms for being misogynistic. It was often noted how uninterested Kubrick was in creating dynamic female characters (see Dr. Strangelove and The Killing
                for more). The issue was so frequently debated that even Christiane Kubrick addressed the criticism in Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures.

                And what I do find interesting is this on set image I found of Kubrick and Co. filming the rape scene and laughing:

                …. and that doesn’t support the claim that he was misogynistic at all….

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

      That's like saying it's horrible to laugh at the Road Runner for tricking Wile E into crashing into a wall or falling off a cliff. Sure, it's despicable murderous behavior, but us laughing at it doesn't make US despicable. You CAN condemn what you're seeing and laugh at it. It isn't contradictory at all.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        Your use of that analogy shows that you don't understand the point I'm making at all. This is not dissimilar from my response to C10 above. Wile E is not a sympathetic character. He is the pursuer, not the one being pursued. We laugh at how his complex plans to capture.kill the road runner fail. Wile is not the victim, as it were.

        Again, my point about Wall Street is that the women - who are indeed the innocent victims of the bankers insults and humiliations - are the brunt of the jokes. We are asked to laugh when they are degraded (I cited examples above). This - amongst other things - is problem with the film. Re-read my first comment closely.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

          "We are asked to laugh when they are degraded" is a bit of a black and white interpretation, ignoring the likelihood we also recognize they are being degraded and not in any way condoning their behavior. I mean, bad shit happens in pretty much every movie, it doesn't mean we're asked to support it or assume it is the moral standard.

          I love Silence of the Lambs and Seven and with that Hannibal Lecter and John Doe, but I'm not looking up to them as serial killer role models.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

            ignoring the likelihood we also recognize they are being degraded and not in any way condoning their behavior.... I mean, bad shit happens in pretty much every movie, it doesn't mean we're asked to support it

            I certainly agree that most people watching the film (or at least most people in this comment section) recognize the disgusting way in which women are treated in the film and are in no way condoning or supporting it. That's not my criticism.

            The question I ask myself is: "What are we supposed to be laughing at, exactly, when we see Belfort's wife made an ass of when Belfort reveals that the guards downstairs are watching her?" There's no doubt that this is meant to be funny. And so we're asked to laugh as an innocent person - someone who is not involved in the debauchery - is humiliated. Same is true when a woman says something like "I don't work for you" and Hill goes "Well, you got my money taped to your tits, so you kinda do." This gets laughs, and it's supposed to. Why is that funny?

            We get these sort of degrading "jokes" all the time in movies like The Hangover and other similarly-minded movies. But do we expect these kinds of attitudes from people like Martin Scorsese? I didn't.

            • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

              Your criticism is similar to my criticism of Michael Bay's Pain & Gain and I think that's a fair criticism. It's a matter of execution and you seem to feel Scorsese failed in his execution.

              I do, however, think there's a matter of determining just what kind of "comedy" Wolf of Wall Street is. To your Hangover comparison, I don't think we're talking about the same thing and I also think the final scene is intentionally there, asking a lot of the questions you seem to be asking.

              As for your example, I found that scene funny while at the same time recognizing everything in that scene is an example of bad behavior. And I have to assume that's not your example of the film being misogynistic, because it is possible for characters in a movie/story/book/etc. to be misogynists while the movie/story/book/etc. is not misogynistic itself, which is EXACTLY why Scorsese depicted this story as a dark satire. The instances you're seeing are straight from Belfort's book, straight from the horse's mouth. Scorsese flipped that misogyny and laughed AT it, not WITH it. The method of storytelling is just as important in this film as the story itself. My opinion of course...

              • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

                The instances you're seeing are straight from Belfort's book, straight from the horse's mouth. Scorsese flipped that misogyny and laughed AT it, not WITH it.

                Couldn't have said it better myself.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                It's a matter of execution and you seem to feel
                Scorsese failed in his execution.

                Correct.

                As far as the final scene goes, I don’t think that really addresses the questions I’m asking. In its final moments, Wolf turns the camera around and reveals that the average Joe (who desperately wants to make it into the 1% him/herself) is just as revolting as Belfort. But this is more about a question of values than anything else. It’s a scornful indictment of the American Dream (not dissimilar from Killing Them Softly’s ending – a film that was much more effective at communicating its thesis). Thus the film is one that condemns a life based solely around acquiring material possessions and wealth. It says nothing about the misogynistic attitudes of the characters (and the film itself).

                As for your example, I found that scene funny
                while at the same time recognizing everything in that scene is an example of
                bad behavior.

                For the record, this is a reference to the money on the
                breasts scene, right? I’m getting so mixed up in all the different responses it’s hard to keep track (#DeathToDisqus).

                You say you found it funny, but I’d be interested in dissecting what is was exactly that you (or anyone else) found funny about it, specifically.

                And I have to assume that's not your example of the
                film being misogynistic

                It is indeed (for reasons I discussed in a response to
                Criterion10, which is either above or below this comment, lol).

                because it is possible for characters in a movie/story/book/etc. to be misogynists while the movie/story/book/etc. is not misogynistic itself

                This point is not lost on me, as I wrote in my review (which I quoted above):

                “It’s important to note that it is possible to depict
                misogynistic characters, doing horribly misogynistic things, without embracing their vile acts. But to linger at length, as Scorsese does, on toned and voluptuous naked female flesh crosses the Rubicon of critical satire

                I still have not read a defense (compelling or otherwise) of the way Scorsese objectifies his female characters even outside of the wild party scenes (which one could argue is from the perspective on the men).

                Scorsese flipped that misogyny and laughed AT it,
                not WITH it.

                What does that mean exactly, to laugh “AT” misogyny?
                Laughing at someone who is essentially raping a woman BECAUSE he is raping her… and that’s bad… so it’s somehow funny to watch a bad guy do a bad thing to an
                innocent person….? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that before.

                This seems to be the crux of the defense (that we’re are
                laughing AT bad people doing bad things to good people) but it’s never explained WHY any of that is actually funny.

                This comes back to the Tarantino comparison discussed either above or below.

                You responded with: Landa is considered to be a rather funny character, yet rather despicable while missing the crucial point: We laugh both WITH and AT Landa, but we are NEVER asked to laugh at the terrible things he does to innocent people. That’s the key point which some seem to be missing and that’s the difference between movies like Basterds, Lambs, Se7en and Wolf. Wolf DOES ask us to laugh as innocents are humiliated. Those movies don’t. We laugh both WITH and AT Calvin Candie throughout Django, but do we laugh when gets up to kick a slave’s butt in the midst of a brutal fight? No. Are we asked to laugh as Candie insults the intelligence of a re-captured slave right before he releases the dogs on him? No. But we ARE asked to laugh when Belfort (and others) degrade and defraud innocents (as noted above). There’s nothing wrong with finding Belfort charming or even funny. That’s not the problem. The problem is that Wolf is malicious with its “humor,” while those movies aren’t.

              • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

                In its final moments, Wolf turns the camera around and reveals that the average Joe (who desperately wants to make it into the 1% him/herself) is just as revolting as Belfort.

                I actually think there are many ways this ending could be interpreted. In addition to what you claim, I also saw it as Scorsese demonstrating how despite all of the atrocities that Belfort has committed, people will still be waiting to line up and listen to his story with great pleasure, no different than the audience watching his very film.

                It’s a scornful indictment of the American Dream (not dissimilar from Killing Them Softly’s ending – a film that was much more effective at communicating its thesis)

                lol

                But to linger at length, as Scorsese does, on toned and voluptuous naked female flesh crosses the Rubicon of critical satire

                There were some moments in Wolf where Scorsese's stylistic camera moves around a female's naked butt or prominently displays a naked woman, but for the most part, again, I don't think Scorsese really exploits these women. I mean, for a point of comparison, the way naked women are shown in Spring Breakers is completely different than the way they are in Wolf. Now, I think both films are great, but hopefully you understand my point there.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                I also saw it as Scorsese demonstrating how despite
                all of the atrocities that Belfort has committed, people will still be waiting to line up and listen to his story with great pleasure, no different than the audience watching his very film.

                Okay. Audiences are morons. #Revelation

                There were some moments in Wolf where Scorsese's
                stylistic camera moves around a female's naked butt or prominently displays a
                naked woman

                “Some”? Some? Lol. Some? I could provide you with many, many screenshots if you’d like…

                I don't think Scorsese really exploits these women.

                Hmm, really? How about one scene in which Margot Robbie is featured quite prominently standing in a doorway, fully nude. Scorsese isn’t too quick about cutting away. The camera lingers on her body in a similar
                manner as the scene plays out. DiCaprio has a brief sex session with her - his private areas never seem to make it into the frame. Curious… And that’s just one scene.

            • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

              And so we're asked to laugh as an innocent person - someone who is not involved in the debauchery - is humiliated.

              Wait a minute...

              You can't honestly say that Belfort's wife, who stayed married to the man despite knowing all of the crimes and misdemeanors he engaged in, is an innocent woman.

              Or that the woman who had "money taped to her tits" was innocent, when what she was engaging in this sequence (smuggling money out of the country) was completely and utterly illegal.

              I'm not saying that truly innocent people (women) aren't humiliated in Wolf, but the two examples you stated above aren't really good indicators of your point.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                They are perfect indicators of my point and your response is an even better one, as it highlights the repugnant way in which Terence Winter characterizes his female characters.

                A: Even in their most private moments - ones free of wild
                parties and debauchery - the women are STILL depicted as being sexually loose and irresponsible. They're just wanton whores, after all, who can't WAIT to get their hands on Jordan's credit cards. So OF COURSE the wife deserves to be sexually humiliated! She brought it on herself, the tasteless bitch.... My god, what a disgustingly misogynistic way to view women.

                B: And you know what, who cares if the woman with the
                money taped to her breasts is degraded! She brought it on herself for getting involved with these scumbags!

                ..... all of this just reads to me as pathetic justifications to laugh at the expense of the victims. We can feel better about letting out a guttural laugh when a woman is degraded if she's been characterized as an annoying
                money-grubber beforehand.... ugh...

              • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

                There are two problems with your argument here for me.

                First is that (mind you, I'm interpreting this based on the wording of your sentences) you seem to be making a sort of generalization that Terence Winter views women in general, in real life through a misogynistic lens, as "being sexually loose and irresponsible," when what you are forgetting to realize is that the women he is depicting here are within a criminal and immoral world. The way women act in Wolf is not the way the majority of the women act in the real world.

                And let's not forget that the closest we see to a real female character in the film is Jordan's first wife, who makes the right decision to leave him immediately after finding out that he cheated on her.

                The other problem with your argument is that for the frequent attention you have focused on misogyny and men hating females in your argument, you could just as easily focus on the variety of slurs and insults the men hurl at each other throughout the film.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

                you seem to be making a sort of generalization that
                Terence Winter views women in general, in real life through a misogynistic lens

                I don’t know how Terence Winter views women in real life. All I know is how he regularly depicts them in his work. His depiction of them in Boardwalk Empire (as I pointed out to Mr_Mercury above) is very consistent
                with Wolf.

                when what you are forgetting to realize is that the
                women he is depicting here are within a criminal and immoral world. The way women act in Wolf is not the way the majority of the women act in the real world.

                This argument makes no sense. You’re saying the women who find themselves in these criminal worlds must be inherently trashy just because they’re there and thus Winter's characterizations are appropriate? I would ask you to pop in The Godfather and take a look at the
                way women are depicted in that similarly repugnant and misogynistic world. There’s plenty of humor and charismatic characters in that film who degrade and humiliate women, but we never get any laughs out of their suffering. And Coppola, unlike Scorsese, doesn’t tastelessly jump between moments of violence
                against women to laughter…. in the very same scene!

                And let's not forget that the closest we see to a
                real female character in the film is Jordan's first wife, who makes the right decision to leave him immediately after finding out that he cheated on her.

                Um…. Revisionist history anyone? Seems like we’re forgetting a little party scene in which Belfort openly comes on to Robbie in the middle of a room full of people, humiliating his wife (who we only get momentary glimpse of). Many “jokes” are had in that scene – yet another instance in which a woman is humiliated for comic effect.

                And by the way, let’s not fail to mention how underwritten
                and rather pathetic his wife is shown to be. Here’s a woman who did *not* come from the “criminal world” and is STILL depicted in an unflattering light. #ClassicWinter

                The other problem with your argument is that for
                the frequent attention you have focused on misogyny and men hating females in your argument, you could just as easily focus on the variety of slurs and insults the men hurl at each other throughout the film.

                I have no idea what you’re trying to infer here….
                Are you suggesting that a bunch of testosterone-fueled one-upmanship is some sort of feminist statement on the part of Scorsese and Winter? Lol. You can’t be serious….

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com Christopher Mannes

      I think the one important aspect you are neglecting is the fact the TWOWS is told from the POV of Jordan Belfort which is evident by the use of narration and the breaking of the fourth wall. Scorsese shows the audience how the character views the world, whether or not you agree with the character is your choice. Therefore the reason why women are objectified/misogyny is because that is how Jordan Belfort sees them. AS for the "joke" aspect; Brad already pointed out that the film is satirical in nature but furthermore if you find laughing at it problematic then you should have a problem with those people who laugh and not with the film makers. Finally to your point about Terence Winter; Boardwalk Empire is set in a specific era. The fact that women are secondary is problematic with that time period not Terence Winter. I would love to hear if people agree or disagree.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        I think the one important aspect you are neglecting is the fact the TWOWS is told from the POV of Jordan Belfort which is evident by the use of narration and the breaking of the fourth wall. Scorsese shows the audience how the character views the world, whether or not you agree with the character is your choice.

        Not so. I do recognize that and my criticisms concern the
        way Scorsese and Winter chose to characterize certain characters and their mishandling of the tone.

        Therefore the reason why women are objectified/misogyny is because that is how Jordan Belfort sees them.

        In some instances yes, in others no. Sometimes it’s clearly
        Belfort, other times it’s the filmmakers. I list examples above and below (and there are countless others I’m not even remembering).

        if you find laughing at it problematic then you should have a problem with those people who laugh and not with the film makers.

        I have a problem with both (remember, we are supposed to be
        laughing).

        Boardwalk Empire is set in a specific era. The fact that women are secondary is problematic with that time period not Terence Winter.

        Yes, I’ve had several conversations with people about
        whether Empire is merely a depiction of misogynistic
        characters in a blatantly misogynistic time, or whether the show is actively misogynistic itself. I initially defended it, but after 4 seasons of baring witness to Terence Winter’s inability to come up with more than one or two dynamic female characters who are anything other than irritating, promiscuous back-stabbers or dutiful “stand-by-your-man” wives, I’m coming down on the misogynistic end of the conversation. Wolf of Wall Street didn’t improve my opinion of him, to say the least.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

    I saw this film last night and absolutely loved it. To weigh in on the idea, I think that the film absolutely did not condone the behavior, but I'm not sure that it necessarily did enough to condemn. I don't think they should have changed the ending at all; I simply mean more scenes like the one where his second wife leaves him-scenes that showed he had lost all morality. It was in that scene all judgment exists. Before that, the comparison I'd make is Alien from Spring Breakers-you laugh at him, and sort of care about his exploits (ie not want him to die), but you hate everything he does or cares about. However, in the case of WOWS, you truly loathe this character-you realize he is a monster, and give up any feeling you have for him. This scene is absolutely flawless in its condemnation, and perhaps one more like it to drive the point home would have helped its case. But short answer: no. This movie does not glorify it. Hell, I personally found it thr most anti-drug film ever made. But maybe that's just me

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

    It doesn't glorify it if you understand the film. It's hardly a comedy. You hate everyone in the movie. The movie makes the people look horrible.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/CitizenKhan/ Andrew Unvericht

    Great article. I personally couldn't have said it better myself.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Hudsucker/ Hudsucker

    I haven't seen Wolf yet, but this was a good read.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Hudsucker/ Hudsucker

    Also, did you make that mug shot poster? I haven't seen it anywhere else.

  • Paul Hennen

    As interesting as this all is, this is what I have to say to those who are taking this so seriously as to actually make it a "controversary." It's a movie, who freakin cares!!!!

  • KB

    I've only read some of the screenplay, but I've seen enough clips to know that Wolf of Wall Street is not a movie I support at all. I believe the movie does glorify entitlement to excess. However, I haven't officially seen the movie, therefore I cannot include examples to aid my opinion. I will add that since the film industry is predominately male, movies within this elk ( successful men with keys to the world ) will hardly be slowing down anytime soon.

    • GobleGableOneOfUs

      "However, I haven't officially seen the movie, therefore I cannot include examples to aid my opinion."

      Which is why your opinion is being disregarded.

  • Geri

    "Scarface" is another film where there's hero worship for the vile character played by Al Pacino.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Beautifulm/ Beautifulm

      Walter White is a more recent example. I think part of the question is why do people glorify characters like this and does that make them horrible people? I think a lot of times people glorify antiheroes because they somewhat relate to them and usually these antiheroes are the main characters of their particular story.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/TheLastEquivocationofBrist/ TheLastEquivocationofBrist

    Loved the movie and am looking forward to the 4 hour director's cut. As I see it, the only way they really could have cut down on the depravity without over-sanitizing the character would be to make the FBI agent the main character instead of Belfort. And how boring would that be?

    The movie makes fun of and condemns the Stratton Oakmont employees who cheer at Belfort's speeches...and does the same to any audience member who cheers along.

    • Adnan Ahmed

      Has the director's cut been confirmed? I would love to see that.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

        I believe Scorsese has said it won't be released.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/TheLastEquivocationofBrist/ TheLastEquivocationofBrist

          That's too bad :( I'll probably buy the Blu-Ray regardless.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Adu/ Adu

          That's a shame.

        • http://www.shouldiseeit.net MikeWard

          Scorsese and DiCaprio were on the Charlie Rose show and said that the 179 minute cut is the final director's cut and that the original ~245 minute version is gone and will not be released.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

      You could have had two main characters and make it more of a cat-and-mouse game, a la Catch Me if You Can.

  • James Smith

    I'm so confused myself, it's nowhere near the most nudity I've seen in movies -- boogie nights for example and glorifying drug use??? They take drugs and there are consequences, but what perplexes me the most is that this movie is rated r, it is for adults-- why is there no outrage when it comes to the sadistic violence from movies like SAW but yet there is if there is some sexuality. I would hate for people to miss this movie because they keep hearing its soft porn, which it is not, there is a solid story and an oscar worthy performance in Leonardo dicaprio.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3769949/ thatpj

    I think it's funny that the people trying to defend the film from people saying it is glorifying the actions of the despicable lead character, are the same ones who were praising the film saying "Most fun in the theater I had all year!" "Funniest movie of all time!" with nary a word about the disturbing 3rd act (outside of the lemmon scene).

    Once you start calling actions like beating your wife or endangering children "fun" or "funny" then yes, it seems like the film is glorifying the actions of the lead. There was nary a word (pre controversy) about how deplorable Beifort was/is. Not a soul held him accountable. It's almost like the ending of the film happened in real life, where the early reactors were the captive audience soothed over by their laughing instead of examining the monster right in front of them.

    So, yes, I think the people who are offended have a legit beef. If the film is so ambiguous that Leo has to go on a press campaign to explain that the film is NOT glorifying Beifort, then yes, it has failed in it's execution of it's premise.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AlanSmithee/ Alan Smithee

    So many of what we now consider the greatest films of all time were controversial and misunderstood upon their initial release (see: pretty much every Kubrick film). I haven't seen "Wolf" yet, so I'll withhold any personal assessment until I do, but I think the controversy bodes well for its future status as a great film, because, while all films are meant to entertain, aren't the "important" ones also supposed to provoke thought and reflection about the society that produced it, and if so, then isn't causing the issues the film contemplates to be argued and discussed by those who have seen it, and by extension the greater society at large, proof of a success in of itself?

  • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

    Fantastic article. I really couldn't have put this any better myself.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kathrynlynn/ kathrynlynn

    I felt like Scorsese gave us these characters, showed us their lives, and said- what do you think? But I felt it fairly obvious, from the get go, that you were supposed to find this self indulgent and irresponsible behavior wrong.

    I know you and Laremy talked in your recent podcast about how it's hard to make a film that really means something to society now a days, that maybe it doesn't even happen, but I thought when I walked away from this film that it was extremely important, and could be one that society needs to consider, to look at and say... yup, this is what we chase, this is what we condone, this is what some of us secretly want but are naive enough to believe we wouldn't fall into if we ever got rich...

    we look at the state of our economy now and it is what it is because of what we've done in the past... and a film like this highlights that.

    I actually like that Scorsese doesn't make a pointed statement about what this film "means" or what this character "represents".... the discussion is much more interesting.

  • Xarnis

    Excellent article. Kudos to you, Mr. Brevet, this is why I love this site. You took the words right out of my mouth

  • RBBrittain

    Face it, folks: It's Scorsese's style. Saying "The Wolf of Wall Street" glorifies debauchery is like saying "Taxi Driver" glorifies would-be assassins (and pre-teen prostitutes), or "The Last Temptation of Christ" glorifies blasphemy, or any number of his films ("GoodFellas", "Casino" & "The Departed", just to name a few) glorify the Mafia. That's not his point; there's a REASON why Jesus marrying AND sleeping with Mary Magdalene was a DREAM SEQUENCE, people!

    Personally, I'm surprised no one has pointed out the similarities between this film and Leo's other 2013 starring role, "The Great Gatsby". It seems the biggest difference between the two, besides Luhrmann vs. Scorsese, is the era; on film, Jordan Belfort is to the '80's & '90's what Jay Gatsby was to the '20's.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

      Gatsby's more forgiving though. He treats EVERYONE with kindness, unlike Belfort. There's definitely a similarity between the two with the wealth, surface level class, deception, and obsessiveness. Gatsby is innocent, unlike Belfort. Both are hopeful, but Gatsby has morally better ambition. They both have have pursuit, but again Gatsby's is out of love for Daisy, and Belfort's is lust for power. They both have similar surface ideals, but below the surface they are polar opposite characters.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Cordia/ Cordia

    The movie shows that Belfort had the time of his life by stealing money from other people, the movies makes this look very entertaining but does in no way jusity or glorify his actions. It rather shows us what kind of person Befort was and how he made and spend his money and what kind of an ego he has. It leaves it up to you, the viewer, to decide what to make of the movie.

  • robotsrule

    I guess some people will consider it a failure on Scorsese's part that there are some douchey Wall Street bros who are cheering the behavior of Belfort. The same people that loved Gordon Gekko in the 80's. Ultimately Scorsese and crew have adapted a sort of autobiography of Belfort and it is a depiction rooted in neither praise nor condemnation but rather holds a mirror up to society and asks us what our values are. Are Belfort's values consistent with the average persons but carried to an extreme? Is this part of human nature or a special perversion and excess rooted in the dogma of American style Capitalism, materialism, and hedonism? Perhaps without the final shot there would be more ambiguity about where Scorsese and company come down on the subject, but I think that shot is giving the viewer all kinds of things to think about and question. I don't think it was an accident that the final shot suggests an audience in a movie theater.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

    I don't have much else to add to what has been said here, and what I wrote on this issue on the box office wrapup. But the more discussion that comes out of this movie, the more I want to see it again. Not because it was a great movie (it's a B- for me, so a moderately good movie), but because I want to see how I feel about the tone on a second go-round.

    Regarding the angry audiences though, I think Brad pretty much hits at the idea that by-and-large, audiences don't want to have to think for themselves, to have to actually be introspective about a movie. These are the people who see movies are nothing more than entertainment and therefore for a movie to be good they must be entertained by the happenings on screen. When that doesn't happen they don't know how to react, because they can't understand almost how every character in the movie could be so deplorable and the movie could be anything other than bad.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      "[T]he more discussion that comes out of this movie, the more I want to see it again"

      Me too and like you I wasn't a HUGE fan, but the dust up around the Internet elevates it a little, though I don't think the film will improve with repeated viewings as much as the mystique around it becomes more intriguing.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

    "There are enough real life stories brought to life on film that make you feel the pain of the victims. While a film based on a tragic real story can be consumed as entertainment, there must still be some inkling of humanity within that story for an audience to connect... I get the feeling the rest of the audience was with me, a bit sick to our stomachs, wondering if they really intended us to laugh and take any kind of satisfaction out of what we were witnessing. Because I couldn't... Then again, perhaps that's the point... If so, okay, but that doesn't make the movie any better. Being in on the joke doesn't make it funny, in this case it's just tragic." - Brad Brevet, Pain & Gain review

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

      I think it's kinda lame for you to say it's "crazy" to feel this way about WoW when you felt the same way about P&G.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Pain & Gain was addressed above so I'm not sure the point of your quoting my review.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

        And... I said it in my above comment. This whole article criticizes the same type of audience reaction that you had for P&G. It's somewhat hypocritical. Your responses to each film contradict each other. I do agree that people are overreacting to WoWS and are using erroneous criteria to judge the movie, but you did the same with P&G.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

          And I would agree and disagree to some extent. Perhaps there is some level of hypocrisy, and I'm sure some would agree with you. However, I also think there is something to be said for execution and I don't think Michael Bay executed his vision (which I clearly have questions as to his intent) in comparison to Scorsese. I also think I gave Bay the benefit of the doubt in my review, recognizing what he may have been attempting to do, but still believing he did a poor job in that attempt.

          We, however, are now arguing a grey area where an opinion of quality comes into play. I'm curious, do you see the two films as executing their satire on a similar level? Does quality matter in this sense?

          • http://letterboxd.com/criterion10/ Criterion10

            I think that part of the problem with Pain & Gain is simply that the film should not have been handled as a dark comedy. It's a story that involves kidnapping, murder, and other crimes that just does not best suit itself for that tone.

            In regards to Wolf, the story itself is so over the top and excessive that it could have only worked as a black comedy in order for Scorsese to get his message across.

  • Guest

    I haven't seen P&G so I'll reserve judgement on how it compares to Scorsese's treatment of Belfort. It's difficult to believe that a director like Bay, who basically treats his audiences like a bunch of boggled and botched low class Idiocracy characters (which maybe they are), really intends to tell a cautionary tale about the dangers of excess and greed. Bay's films are the epitome of artifice, shallowness, adolescence, greed, and excess. And they are a mirror for a society in that respect. They represent the culture from which they originate, but I don't think Bay knows that's what he's doing when he makes his films. I think like Belfort he's trying to cash in by selling people something worthless...We actually haven't had too many successful films that directly tell the stories of the victims of the bankers and fraudsters that have run our country into the ground. I think "The Company Men" and Van Sant's "Promised Land" attempted to do some of that. And "Out of the Furnace" and "Killing Them Softly" also sort of cover some of that territory.

  • tanya pollock

    Good article and interesting read.

    I haven't seen WoW yet so maybe Im off track but isn't this character thematically similar to the character of Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds. He was clearly a vile monster, yet at the same time entertaining, riveting, even charming. And albeit the final scene with Brad Pitt's character, Landa basically got away with most of his behaviour and didn't show remorse or redemption for any of it. Nor do I think the audiences enjoyment or appreciation for the film was the poorer for it. In fact Waltz/Landa was pretty much universally praised even in reviews that were unkind to the film in general. And yet I dont think audiences walked out of IB feeling like that had just watched a pro Nazi/mutilation advertisement.Nor do I remember the film which is in the same genre as WoW (dark satire) recieving the same backlash or expectations being thrown WoW way. You could easily enjoy the character of Landa while condemning his actions.

    I dont know if watching WoW is the same experience as IB, but I feel like some of the greatest characters in movie history have been characters that are essentially the worst kinds/shadiest of people *shrug*

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/sdraivio/ sdraivio

    Outstanding article, Brad. I can't believe how many people are completely missing the point of this movie. I guess you can't make a brilliant satire anymore, without a lot of people totally misconstruing it. I think it's another example of how dumbed down our society has become.
    I believe one of the major points of the movie is to show how greed has played the major role in the current state of America. Yes, I know, there are still millions of honest, hard working people in the USA. But let's face it, one of the main reasons why the country is where it is today is because of greed.
    That's why this movie is so perfect for the times we're in. Although you've pretty much already said it, I think the last shot of the movie is meant to show how we're still all taken in by this BS and double talk, but we're the only ones that can change it.
    I think The Wolf of Wall Street is one of Scorsese's finest movies, and DiCaprio's performance is also one of his best, which is certainly saying something on both counts. The film is entertaining and disgusting at the same time, but I believe the audience must be prepared to think both during and after the movie.
    In a lot of ways this movie turns the mirror on Western culture and its excesses, which is why I think some people have their noses so badly out of joint.
    Not me. I thought the whole thing was brilliant and spot-on.