Wolf of Wall Street
Coppola’s refusal to condemn, explain or apologize for her characters makes for a rather opaque experience. To state the obvious, these are not likable individuals. They exhibit no visible remorse for their crimes, seemingly oblivious to the concept of personal boundaries, and think about little besides fashion and D-list celebrities.
The men get the most attention for their greed and corruption. However, if we look a bit closer, the films’ women are the ones who can be traced to plant bigger, fatter seeds of avarice. This wouldn’t bother me, as I’m always in favor of more complex female characters (even if they’re unsympathetic), but what strikes me is that we barely notice these scenes. The women become victims and damsels, when oftentimes the ideas were their own.
Is this some kind of 21st century version of the femme fatale? A woman who is coercive–not only sexually, but also financially–but who isn’t taken seriously as a power player? Is it just embedded in us to not notice women’s power or ignore their parts in the narrative?
What is telling is the presence of so many films that either elide or sexualize female bodies in the category that presumably represents the best of the best. The Academy clearly has a critical preference for movies about men, with women present primarily as wives and sex objects.
The hunters write history. The hunters glorify themselves. The hunters’ history infiltrates itself into the very fabric of our cultural narrative, so we’re only comfortable with seeing the complexities of the hunters, and the simplicity of the lions.
It is what we’ve been trained for since birth.
When Jordan says to his staff, “Stratton Oakmont is America,” he wasn’t, as he typically was, full of shit. That was one of the truest statements in the film. … But even if we are adequately critical of the reality of Jordan Belfort’s story, how much can we expect from audiences who, like the audience at the end of the film, want at some level to know Jordan’s secrets?
Check out what we’ve been reading this week–and let us know what you’ve been reading/writing in the comments!
So if I knew all that, why did I even bother? Shame on me, right? Well, I try to keep an open mind when it comes to Scorsese. He’s a brilliant director capable of surprising his audience and expanding our sense of what a cinematic experience can be. He’s so good that I can even forgive him for making films that consistently fail the Bechdel test. The Wolf of Wall Street, though, is not Scorsese at his best. It might even be at his worst. And that’s because we all know how great he can be.