ZACHAREK: "'SCARFACE' ROLLS FORWARD IN CRAZY, MELODRAMATIC WAVES"
Last week we linked to a Hollywood Elsewhere post in which Jeffrey Wells called Martin Scorsese's The Wolf Of Wall Street the new Scarface. Reviews of Scorsese's film are proliferating online, and many of them mention that Brian De Palma film, but one review skips that and mentions a different De Palma film instead. "In a way," writes Seattle Weekly's Brian Miller, "this is the movie Brian De Palma tried and failed to make out of Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities (a book Belfort read in prison, inspiring his memoir). Maybe we’re more prepared to laugh now because we’ve weathered worse financial calamities."
The Village Voice's Stephanie Zacharek states, "There are hints of greatness" in The Wolf Of Wall Street, "one or two artfully constructed scenes that remind you why you look forward to new Scorsese films in the first place. But as a highly detailed portrait of true-life corruption and bad behavior in the financial sector, Wolf is pushy and hollow, too much of a bad thing, like a three-hour cold call from the boiler room that leaves you wondering, 'What have I just been sold?'"
In the concluding paragraph of her review, Zacharek compares Wolf unfavorably to Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby, and brings Scorsese to task, writing, "Scorsese is one of the few great old-guard filmmakers with the clout to make movies on this scale, and this picture — dreary, self-evident, too repetitive to be much fun even as satire — is what he comes up with? Some have already favorably compared this with Brian De Palma's Scarface, in that it invites us to revel in its characters' amorality from a safe distance, and at epic length. But that's a slippery, surface-level comparison. Scarface is violent as hell, and operatically blunt, but, oddly enough, it's not an aggressive picture. It rolls forward in crazy, melodramatic waves, without pushing its points about the horrors human beings are willing to commit in the name of capitalism. It doesn't have to, when there's a chain saw to do the talking. Scorsese, on the other hand, belabors every angle of this lukewarm morality tale. It's self-conscious and devoid of passion, and there's no radiant star at its center. Who would choose DiCaprio's depraved, squeaky Jordan Belfort over Al Pacino's twisted, basso profundo Tony Montana? The Wolf of Wall Street has everything money can buy, and still, it comes up empty."