In evaluating a film these days, it’s crucial to consider how it will be adapted and marketed overseas — where studios make more than twice the profits they make at home. Case in point: Martin Scorsese’s three-hour extravaganza “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which was released on Christmas Day and is now a Best Picture nominee.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, a real-life stockbroker whose “pump-and-dump” schemes cheated investors out of $200 million in the 1990s, the film has stirred intense controversy at home. Critics and audiences have cheered the interminable scenes of overgrown adolescents in fancy suits scarfing hard drugs, carrying on with prostitutes, and gleefully wasting their ill-gotten gains. For David Thomson of The New Republic, these scenes are “beautiful and liberating” because they show America as a country where “there is no such thing as corruption. There is just the exhilaration of everyone screwing everyone.” Others find these scenes more boring than exhilarating. To quote one of my students, “that stuff is way over the top and goes on much too long.”