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The Wolf of Wall Street(2013)
The story of Jordan Belfort, a Long Island penny stockbroker who served 20 months in prison for refusing to cooperate in a massive 1990s securities-fraud case involving widespread corruption on Wall Street and in the corporate banking world, including mob infiltration.
For more about The Wolf of Wall Street and the The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray release, see the The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 14, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Terence Winter
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner
» See full cast & crew
The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray Review
The American dream or the American nightmare?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 14, 2014
The wolf is known as both a social creature amongst its kind, and particularly within its pack, and the devourer of anything else that gets in its way. It's an attractive but fearsome animal. It's sleek, refined, capable, and very dangerous. It's the perfect metaphor for the man who notoriously rose to power in the 1980s stock brokerage scene, the man who made himself a fortune and guided others to countless millions by choosing the right friends, knowing his enemies, and pouncing on every opportunity with the cunning, smarts, and determination necessary to not crush the competition but to rise to the top of his field, to quite literally become the "king of the world," or at least the world his vast fortune but narrow focus had built. But as these stories tend to reveal, his meteoric ascendancy wasn't built only on sweat, smarts, and lawful business practices. The story of Jordan Belfort is one of a rapid rise in wealth but an equally rapid personal descent into chaos, a life built on towers of cash but tumbled by sex, drugs, and a singleminded focus on wealth creation by any and all means necessary -- no matter how destructive -- that might even make Gordon Gekko stop and consider the ramifications. Director Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street is notoriously vulgar and frank yet beautifully crafted and endlessly captivating in its recreation of a story that validates the dangers in too much of a good thing. Of course, whether anything in Jordan Belfort's life can be considered "good" is the secret little subtext beneath the chaos.
The Wolf of Wall Street tells the story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man with aspirations of the wealth and easy life of the Wall Street stockbroker. He quickly learns the ropes under the guidance of Wall Street veteran Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey), an executive who is a reflection of everything Jordan wants. He's rich, confident, and knows the system. Mark advises cocaine, hookers, and masturbation as the keys to Wall Street success, advice Jordan takes to heart. Just as he's coming into his own, the stock market tanks, his firm closes its doors, and he's left without a job. His ambition to work the system leads him to a small, out-of-the-way firm that deals in penny stocks and pays a hefty 50% commission. He dazzles his co-workers and continues to expand his knowledge base. He sets out to start his own company: Stratton Oakmont. He's joined by his ambitious neighbor Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) and the business grows quickly, operating under the goal of selling wealthy clients blue chip stocks, gaining their confidence with good returns, and pushing the lower priced and higher commissioned penny stocks afterwards. As his success increases, Jordan's life becomes a blur of women, sex, booze, and drugs, both in the office and behind closed doors. He woos and weds the sexy Naomi (Margot Robbie) and feels unstoppable, even as FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) methodically investigates Jordan and his firm.
Like so many of the great films, The Wolf of Wall Street delves deeply into doubled-edged territory. It's a superficially rambunctious procedural, a fairly standard portrayal of the classic rise and fall of a man who has allowed money and power to outwardly corrupt him, a corruption that seeps within and flows down to his very soul. There's the obligatory law enforcement pursuit and the cat-and-mouse game between Jordan and Denham, with pleasantries that proceed the profanity and all manner of manipulation coming from both ends, the temptation of money from one and the focus on the straight-and-narrow on the other. The film's darkly humorous portrayal of all the excess in Jordan's life -- the drugs, the women, the office shenanigans, the parties that cost a lifetime's salary, and the inevitable mental and physical collapses that only seem to reinvigorate the addict's drive to make more money so he may party harder -- is of course its key outward element and certainly the driving force behind all of the dramatic undercurrents both seen and unseen. Where Scorsese wins over his audience isn't just in pointing the camera at three hours' worth of mayhem but rather subtly reinforcing the story's themes on excess, personal failure, inner corruption, and outer collapse through the prism of easy living turned taxing existence. The story's highs are deliberately displayed to oftentimes dizzying superfluousness and only serve to drive the lows deeper and push them harder until Jordan's bubble bursts, not with a spectacular bang but rather a fizzling disappointment, leaving behind only the shadow of the hubris, greed, debauchery, and unhealthy lifestyle that had become a way of life that transformed into, for a time, no life at all.
It's a fine line the cast and crew walk, and they walk it with a precision balance that puts Cirque du Soleil to shame. The film's party-hard exterior depicts the undeniable, uncontrollable, and unbelievable spin into both real and hallucinatory excesses where only the next high, the next girl, the next sale, and the next addition to the bank account matter. When that world threatens to collapse, it's only back to the source of that collapse in hopes of not necessarily masking it but at least using it as a crutch to find a way out. After all, snorting drugs, sleeping with women, and drinking to excess created a brand new world of wealth, privilege, and escape from the everyday realities of life; certainly when all hope seems lost, they will again hold the answer and the avenue of escape back into their safety net that is a disconnect from reality or the illusion of a hyper-reality. The picture's ambition and purpose, then, are tied deeply together as a unified curve that flows high above and well below a straight line of status quo, or perhaps better said a balance between life's good things, life's bad things, and man's innate and learned abilities to celebrate the former and cope with the latter.
The Wolf of Wall Street displays Scorsese's steady hand, keen understanding of structure and purpose even in the harsh glow of the film's portrayal of hard-living excess, and deep understanding of and appreciation for the medium's narrative capacity to tell a compelling, meaningful story through the lens of a meaningless life. It's one of Scorsese's finest efforts, certainly not appropriate for easily offended audiences but clearly a compelling case for cinema's ability to counterbalance outward frivolity with inward profoundness. In the film, Leonardo DiCaprio continues his progression from teen heartthrob to a more mature actor of tremendous skill and natural gift of both screen presence and intimate understanding of character development and portrayal. His effort shines more brightly than perhaps any other role the actor has undertaken so far. He commands the screen at every extreme, capturing with blunt effectiveness the outward lifestyle and revealing the inward damage -- damage the character both readily and indirectly accepts and denies -- with remarkable efficiency and believability. His supporting cast is terrific; Jonah Hill turns in a career-defining performance as the de facto sidekick, the partner-in-crime, the man who rather than serve as a counterweight to Jordan's excesses is like the devil on the shoulder who only further promotes the descent into unhealthy decadence and personal collapse for an admittedly lengthy moment of glory.
The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Wolf of Wall Street enjoys a rather spectacular high definition presentation from Paramount. The picture features all of the usual elements in good working order and yields a high-end cinema quality presentation that should satisfy all viewers. The image appears slightly warm at times, resulting in mildly red flesh tones, but altogether offers a bright, consistent coloring that flourishes outdoors but still delivers precision hues under any lighting condition. The palette appears very diverse but naturally so, handling everything from green vegetation to somewhat louder clothing colors with ease. Fine details impress. Suit fabrics show the most intimate lines in suitably close-in shots, while more generalized facial textures and basic shapes around the screen enjoy accurate, nuanced presentations. Black levels are enjoyably deep and true. The image suffers from no troublesome flaws, either inherent to the source or introduced in the transfer to Blu-ray process. Altogether, a wonderful presentation from Paramount.
The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Wolf of Wall Street's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack impresses at every turn. The film offers a variety of songs that frequently blast through the listening area and do so with precision clarity, faultless spacing, and strong supportive bass. Equally impressive are a number of high intensity party scenes, particularly those within the office space, that lavish the listener with a wide variety of well defined and immersive sonic chaos, the likes of which are also on display during "normal" office operations, i.e. a storm of ringing phones, screaming salesmen, and all variety of business day chaos. The track doesn't do much else in terms of hugely aggressive sounds; it's most prominent moment, though, comes in chapter twenty when a large yacht becomes caught in a storm at sea. Crashing waves, shifting objects, gusting winds, and all manner of chaos splash into the soundstage with frightening precision and placement. Dialogue, the track's keystone element, flows effortlessly from the front-center portion of the stage and yields excellent clarity from start to finish. This is a strong, dynamic, engaging listen from front to back.
The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Much like Nebraska, another recently released multi-Oscar-nominated film on Blu-ray from Paramount, The Wolf of Wall Street contains only one supplement. The Wolf Pack (HD, 17:01) features an examination of Martin Scorsese's take on the story, Jordan Belfort's life, and character portrayals and improvisations. Also included is a DVD copy and UV/iTunes digital copies. Also note that the much-discussed extended cut of the film is not included; this is the film's theatrical cut.
The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Wolf of Wall Street takes viewers on a fascinating journey from nothing to something to everything and from everything to excess to the end of the run in the life of a man who thrives on his overpowering ego and his endless drive to score the next high, bed the next woman, and pad the bank account. The film decries none of these things, but it does decry them, and anything, really, in excess, and in particular the excess displayed inside the corrupted halls of Stratton Oakmont. The picture thrives on balance, even as it plays up Jordan's excesses almost to a breaking point. The film zooms well past the point of no return early on and will certainly offend many viewers with its unabashed depiction of wealth-induced narcotic, sexual, and verbal indulgence, but within that chaos is a purpose that trumps all of the visual and aural mayhem. It's easily one of the year's finest pictures and a must-see for audiences that can compartmentalize the film's structure and purpose and find the beautiful interconnect between them. Paramount's Blu-ray release of The Wolf of Wall Street disappointingly comes with a single supplement. Video and audio qualities, however, are expectedly brilliant. Though the release has "double dip" written all over it, fans won't want to wait to experience the movie again or for the first time. Highly recommended.
The Wolf of Wall Street: Other Editions
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The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: March 25-April 1 - March 23, 2014
For the week of March 25th, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment is bringing Martin Scorsese's acclaimed The Wolf of Wall Street to Blu-ray. Other Tuesday titles include Fox and Scorsese's The King of Comedy, the cult favorite The Swimmer, and Criterion's release ...
• The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray - Exclusive Giveaway - March 21, 2014
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three members the opportunity to win a copy of director Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau, and Jean Dujardin. ...
• Paolo Sorrentino: The Wolf of Wall Street is the Best Film of 2013 - February 28, 2014
The Criterion Collection has released a video from a short interview with Italian director Paolo Sorrentino in which he reveals the first film he fell in love with as well as his favorite film of 2013. Next month, the Criterion Collection will release on Blu-ray ...
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