by Catie Robbins
I smiled throughout a very large portion of The Wolf of Wall Street, a fact which figures largely in my opinion of any film. The most interesting part of this film is definitely the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill acted in this movie. I can’t count the amount of times I thought, oh my God, Scorcese must have told them, “Hey boys? Just kind of improv this part.” There are slug-trails of an actor’s director lacing this film. He was like, “I’m a director, I’m going to cast great actors and let them do their work for me, like a director should. You guys are actors, you’re both going to have the time of your life, everybody get hyphy.” He said that.
My appraisal of this process is just hearsay, but try to tell me that Leonardo Dicaprio and Jonah Hill did to not have fun making The Wolf of Wall Street and I’ll be a little upset. Scorcese did not use the gun pointed at you method of directing. He went real Cassavettes on this one, and we’re all very proud of the guy. Hopefully this is the beginning of a new Hollywood trend. It’s going to be all about the acting–not the actor–the acting. We’ll get to obsess over what was and what was not a real human performances.
Maybe it’s all already about the actor, but I’m going to argue that while we’re obsessing over how pretty they all look, (it’s true they look quite nice) we’re not looking for real human performances—if we were, we’d be excited over how ugly they look. We’d be like, who’s the ugliest crier; here’s an award. Take for example, Jonah Hill choking on ham. Talent like that makes choking on ham palatable. Most of us could watch Hill choke on ham all day long.
When Hill starts coughing on ham and DiCaprio is too high on ludes to complete the necessary amount of crawling on the floor like a baby to save his friend from choking on ham, that scene sounds hard to watch. It almost seems like the choking on ham goes on for too long. Yet any human emotion whether it’s terrible helplessness or one of our more favored sentiments, is fascinating to watch if it’s the real thing. The point being that the ludes scene is a national treasure. The tension in that scene is perfectly orchestrated. It’s been rumored that those who think the choking goes on a bit long don’t have a sense of humor.
Did we find the film misogynistic? It’s hard to decide. He chooses Naomi, (Margot Robbie) the woman who is the furthest from a feminist than anyone I know, and she still manages to show a strong, well-rounded character, which isn’t even a prerequisite for a feminist (equality-ist) film. Do two women talk to each other about something other than men? Perhaps not. I just know that I didn’t feel underrepresented in the office–I felt equally shown as greedy and dysfunctional just like everyone in the film, and that I appreciate, because that is equality. I’m kidding– I do wish it had shown two women talking, and thus passed the Bechdel test. However, it must be remembered that this is a satire criticizing a very man-powered world.
A 17 year old Berkeley High student whom I rely on for all my idealistic political insights (if I named her I wouldn’t be able to keep stealing her ideas) said she loved and hated the film, because even though she saw it as satire, seeing all the women used as office orgy-props upset her. This was a way of saying it that is indisputable—it upset me too.
To go back to the acting, these guys are so in character it’s hard to see it as satire, this isn’t the way people acted in Dr. Strangelove or: […](1964). Though a time honored political tool, the problem with satire remains that the dumb people who are being dumb and treating women badly are the dumb ones who don’t get the joke and actually think this dumb character is a hero and not an anti-hero. To date, this problem is not especially solvable.
My friend Tracy says, “I think that the film often tends to make a circus of the human experience.” More than loving satire, more than loving excitement and humour and glamor, I love how DiCaprio and Hill shot real human emotion into every minute detail of shitshow obscenity, even when the scope of their actions went so far above (and below) normal levels of human activity. To be specific, Oscar or no Oscar, these gentlemen kept it real.