The Capitalist Complicities Behind “The Wolf of Wall Street”

When I first put my arbitrary list of the Top 10 Movies of 2013 together, I included Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street. The decision didn’t come lightly; I’ve had a very odd and ongoing conversation about this film. It had been my most anticipated film of the year by a country mile, but the experience of watching the movie drained me. It is too long, filled with shots and scenes that serve no real purpose except to keep telling us things we already know, shocking us with continued depravity or reinforcing the excessiveness and repetitiveness of Jordan Belfort’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) drugs-and-sex compulsiveness. Was it satire? Was it condemnation? Was it, as so many people claimed in various critiques, a glorification of rampant immorality? I had many conversations with colleagues about the goal of this film following that initial viewing. These conversations opened the film up as an ambivalent, outraged work about the failure to prosecute the finance sector, channeling its anger into gross satire. On a second watch though, The Wolf of Wall Street reveals significant political problems that can’t be ignored. Continue reading “The Capitalist Complicities Behind “The Wolf of Wall Street”” »

Oscar Analysis: “Dallas Buyers Club” Sells out the Truth

Hollywood has long placed, and hedged, its bets on history, from D.W.Griffith’s notorious 1915 blockbuster The Birth of a Nation (about the rise of the KKK) to last year’s less controversial but still factually challenged Oscar-winner Argo (about a CIA rescue mission in Iran). If this year’s Best Picture crop is any indication, the postmodern proposition that the further society recedes from physical reality the more it becomes obsessed with reclaiming it, has been borne out in spades. Six of the nine Best Picture nominees from 2013 deal with actual historical incidents—in varying degrees of verisimilitude. Continue reading “Oscar Analysis: “Dallas Buyers Club” Sells out the Truth” »