On "The Wolf of Wall Street," the Disappointment Curse of Our Overhyped World, and a New Movement Called "LifeFirst!"

So for weeks I’ve been reading about how good Leo DiCaprio/Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is (Best Picture nominee!) and a couple weeks ago I finally managed to watch it. I was excited at first, being a Leo DiCaprio fan myself, and DiCaprio/Scorsese certainly have made some killer films—The Departed (2006) and Shutter Island (2010)—while DiCaprio deserved a Best Actor for Revolutionary Road (2008), especially in that final scene at the breakfast table with Kate Winslet. Then I saw The Wolf and my enthusiasm went kerplunk. Yes, it’s good . . . ish? The raunchier moments seemed the best? At least the funniest. Like when he’s snorting coke off that hooker’s . . . um . . . body part? And which body part was it, exactly? (My friends and I debated the physics of that one.) Or the funny scene when his wife doesn’t remember they have security cameras in every room?
But if those are the best moments from the film, isn’t that damning it with faint praise?
I nurse the suspicion that its overhype has made me judge it more harshly than it deserves. If I’d heard it was awful I might have loved it. Such is Human Nature. Plus it has many structural similarities to Scorsese’s Casino (1995), which is a bit unfortunate, because Casino is a much richer film, about more fascinating bad guys. I wonder if it’s maybe my blase attitude about Wall Street malfeasance/fraud stories, too: I used to write for a Nasdaq-focused magazine (Equities), and greedy bastards on Wall Street seems ho-hum.
I saw The Wolf of Wall Street the weekend I ran the marathon in Austin, Texas, and if there’s an insight to that viewing experience, it’s that I enjoyed running 26.2 miles more than watching a film about greedy bastards. There needs to be a movement called something like LifeFirst! dedicated to the idea that we should live in physical reality first and foremost, and that screen images, no matter how fascinating, should come in second. Sounds idealistic, doesn’t it? I doubt if I’ll convince millions to join this philosophy. But still . . . .

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