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HOME MOVIES

By Karen Martin

This article was published March 28, 2014 at 1:59 a.m.

The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese

The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese (R, 180 minutes)

The Wolf of Wall Street is restless and disjointed, a movie that feels as raw and rapacious as its protagonist, self-made bunco artist Jordan Belfort (played with ferociousness by Martin Scorsese regular Leonardo DiCaprio).

Belfort, whose outrageous (and sometimes dubious) memoir provided the raw material for Terence Winter’s screenplay, spent only a few months on Wall Street. His first job was with the firm L.F. Rothschild, where apparently he was taken to lunch by senior broker Mark Hanna (played memorably by Matthew McConaughey here) and told his chosen profession was just an illusory American hustle.

Armed with the knowledge that his sole duty was to make himself rich, Jordan is only briefly staggered when the crash of 1987 wipes out Rothschild and puts him on the street. After walking into a bargain-basement brokerage on Long Island, he discovers his talent for pitching penny stocks (those of companies too fragile to be listed on any exchange) to naive investors in flyover country.

With his neighbor Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), Jordan establishes Stratton Oakmont. It’s a classic pump and dump scheme where Jordan, Donnie and members of their inner circle buy up the all-but-worthless stock of a given company and then turn their brokers loose to browbeat unwitting suckers into buying it. When the price rises, Jordan and the boys sell off and leave their customers with worthless paper.

Soon Jordan is earning thousands of dollars per minute, trading in his sensible starter wife Teresa (Cristin Milioti) for beer commercial model Naomi (Margot Robbie), and adopting a hedonistic lifestyle that would shame a hip-hop mogul. And nothing too terrible happens to him.

Although the film is overlong and repetitive, it’s executed with glee. DiCaprio delivers a startling physical performance, giving Jordan a cunning and instinct for self-preservation. While he’s capable of kindness, DiCaprio plays Jordan with no suggestion of misunderstood nobility. He’s just a hole that can’t be filled.

The Blu-ray combo pack comes with a behind-the scenes look at the making of the film and interviews with DiCaprio and Scorsese.

Delivery Man (PG-13, 103 minutes) This warm-hearted, lightweight remake of the 2011 French-Canadian comedy Starbuck features ne’er do-well former sperm donor David Wosniak (played with self-deprecating appeal by Vince Vaughn), who discovers that he fathered 533 kids over the past 20 years, and 142 of them are demanding to know his identity. With Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, Dave Patten, Britt Robertson; directed by Ken Scott.

Odd Thomas (unrated, 100 minutes) Director Stephen Sommers adapts Dean Koontz’s best-selling novel into a casual, hyperactive fantasy/comedy amusement about a charming, self-effacing clairvoyant 20-year-old (Anton Yelchin) whose supernatural gifts cause him to see unhappy dead people and slippery creatures, invisible to others, whose presence forecasts trouble. With Willem Dafoe, Patton Oswalt, 50 Cent.

The Great Beauty (not rated, 142 minutes) This gorgeous, witty and captivating drama concerns cynical journalist and legendary novelist Jep Gambardella (Italian character actor Toni Servillo). On the occasion of his 65th birthday, he decides to dedicate the remainder of his mostly lavish, dissolute life to a search for meaning against the background of decadent, magnificent Rome. With Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli; directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Subtitled.

MovieStyle, Pages 31 on 03/28/2014

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