Clenching the Nomination - The Wolf of Wall Street - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Clenching the Nomination – The Wolf of Wall Street

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This week Andrew, Kyle, and Ryan will be discussing the one scene from each of the films that they feel clenched their nomination for the Best Picture Oscar.  *Some spoilers to follow*The Wolf of Wall StreetRyan COMMENTARY w/o RatingLast year my favorite film was easily The Wolf of Wall Street (Kyle's review). It was edgy, funny, had a wonderful performance from DiCaprio and had Scorsese unhinged making a film that felt like injecting adrenaline straight into your heart. The film seems to be a love it or hate it film with many people in the hate camp complaining about its length and its unapologetic treatment of the main character and his exploits. Yet lost in the back and forth of finger wagging and defending the movie a very powerful and interesting last shot. I will be talking about the ending of the film so it is a spoiler but it won’t ruin the film going experience.

In the end, Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) has to start again and since he is barred from trading anymore, he decides to sell the only thing of his that still has any value, himself. He starts a public speaking seminar teaching people how to sell and get rich quick. Earlier in the film he has a dinner where Belfort has his friends and colleagues for dinner and sees how his drug connection would sell a pen he pulls from his pocket. The dealer has a very clever way to do it and it shows what Belfort is trying to prove, that this man, no matter what he might look or act like, was a natural seller. He does this same shtick at the end in his seminar in New Zealand, but this time he tells the people at the seminar to sell his pen. All of them fumble over what to say and it is painful to watch each of them try to do something that was natural and easy for the other group.

These people don’t have skill, charisma or talent to be a salesperson and it is painfully clear to everyone in the room but yet they are still there, hoping and wishing that Belfort could give them those secret words or instructions on how they can get rich and live the good life. Scorcese ends the film with person after person looking at Belfort with awe and hope. The movie fades out with this shot, no punch line no further explanation. We as the audience leave the theater with that lingering image in our minds, the look of hope and dreams in the faces of the ones that probably will never reach those goals and we are left to think what that might mean for us.

I have worked in the advertising industry for 10 years and I can safely say the ones that you see with the suits and the nice cars, the ones with the season tickets and passes to all the events are the ones that can sell. The people who are good at their job but don’t have the charisma or talent to go out there and make people spend money because of what you said are never going to make as much money, aren’t ever going to be in the limelight, probably will never marry a supermodel and own a yacht.

I am one of those people who can’t sell and makes a decent living working the other end of the business, but would I love to grab those golden rings? Would I love to have more money than I could spend? Would I love to take my family on exotic trips and have a huge home? Of course I would! Would I follow someone like a Jordan Belfort to get all that I wanted if he had the means to do it? That is where the answer gets tricky. I want to say that I wouldn’t, I would like to believe that I have enough moral conviction to not go down a path like that, but if I really had that opportunity I don’t know what I would do.

The Wolf of Wall Street shows the extreme side of what money can do and where it can get you and it doesn’t shake its fist at the means to how they got the money nor what they do with it. Scorsese leaves it up to you and your judgment whether you see Belfort as “cool” or as a jackass who used and abused people that were strangers and who were close to him. The creators of the film are just showing what one person did with considerable wealth.

For me, I laughed at what he did because I did think he was an idiot that wasted natural ability and SO much money. I was imagining what I would have done with all that money he made when the last shot came and hit me across the head. It said to me “you were already thinking about the money and how you would spend it, but what would you be ok with in acquiring it?” Am I one of those sheep that would listen to a person like Belfort’s BS if I thought it could make me money? Could I screw over countless people that I didn’t know or would ever have to meet if I had a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

The ending takes a moment to let you think about this without judgment and without them tipping their hand one way or another. It puts a mirror up to you after three hours and asks why did you enjoy this movie or why did you have such a negative reaction? It doesn’t end on a joke or an uplifting moment to let the viewer off the hook. It wonders why you bought a ticket to the movie or why you might have read the book it was based on? It makes you think whether you were rooting for Belfort or not and why? For a three-hour film that included ample amounts of nudity, drugs and bad behavior and was a ballsy move to end the film in this manner but it was 100% effective for me and a big reason why I think it was the best film of the year and a strong contender for Best Picture.

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Posted by Andrew

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