I understand about Martin Scorsese. I really do. From Mean Streets to Taxi Driver, Raging Bull to Goodfellas to Boardwalk Empire, much of his work has been dark and violent. Decent people don't show up very often and when they do, they seldom prevail, so when we went to see The Wolf of Wall Street this weekend, I wasn't expecting a pleasant experience. I was not expecting what I got, either.
By the end of the film I was so angry I was shaking. After three hours of unrelenting greed, emotional violence, ruthlessness, the cynical exploitation of the weak, casually abusive and emotionless sex, indescribable disregard for and destructive treatment of women, it was tough to walk out of the theater without throwing something.
It was excess beyond anything that words could describe; images, sadly, are more successful. There's nowhere to hide and there are so many moments where we wish we could.
I was a broadcast producer in the and 80's and covered the excesses of that time. I knew that, in Bonfire of Vanities, Tom Wolfe was demonstrating his skills as a reporter as well as a novelist.
Even so, the rank, brittle ugliness of this film, of these people and of the fact that much of the story really happened turned what we know into what we wish we didn't. The criticism by the daughter of one of its main characters, that it glamorizes the Belfort universe and makes them some sorts of rakish sweetie pies wasn't what I saw. The are all reprehensible from first to last.
Of course the film wouldn't have had the impact it did if it hadn't been so well-made. Its impact is indisputable. Even so - maybe his next undertaking, after all this darkness, will bring us the Scorsese behind The Last Waltz and Concert for New York City. After all, they say music tames the savage beast, and in this film, he certainly unleashed a hell of a creature.