Leonardo DiCaprio anchors an amazing cast in the year's wildest ride
It is easy for casual audiences to make a surface connection between something like "Good Fellas" and "Casino" and "Wolf Of Wall Street" because of the overt connections between those worlds, the decadence and the crime and the excess. What people miss in those comparisons, though, is that Scorsese has made other versions of that same basic film, these dense social x-rays of the way communities work, in films as disparate as "Kundun" and "Age Of Innocence" as well. He is one of the keenest observers of the way systems function we have ever had in cinema, and "Wolf Of Wall Street" is a powerful reminder that at the age of 71, he is as vital and as ferocious a voice as ever.
It is, of course, inaccurate to say that "Wolf Of Wall Street" is "about" the financial crisis that America recently suffered. I'm not sure what a film "about" that would look like. It's such a broad topic that I don't really see how you could make any film that would encompass every angle of that story. Instead, using Jordan Belfort's book about himself, Scorsese does his best to show us exactly who it was who helped perpetuate the system that burned so many people, and the end result is a depraved, hallucinatory plunge into a truly ugly psyche. Scorsese's real gift when making one of these movies is showing us the small details of how things work, and one of the most interesting things about "Wolf" is how often Jordan Belfort starts to explain something, only to stop because he is convinced there's no way the audience is smart enough or interested enough to understand. That's what he says, anyway, but I think the real reason is because a good con man, like a good magician, never really gives away the trick. Belfort is a natural-born manipulator and liar, and anyone who believes that this is the "true" story of Belfort's rise and fall simply isn't paying attention.