90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Who’s Afraid Of ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is making waves well beyond its Academy Award nominations. We’ll catch the controversy.

Banker Jordan Belfort (Leonard DiCaprio) runs a high-profile penny stock firm that pulls in big fees on nearly worthless stocks in the Martin Scorese film, "The Wolf Of Wall Street." (Paramount Pictures)

Banker Jordan Belfort (Leonard DiCaprio) runs a high-profile penny stock firm that pulls in big fees on nearly worthless stocks in the new Martin Scorsese film, “The Wolf Of Wall Street.” (Paramount Pictures)

News from two fronts in one week.  From Oxfam yesterday:  the world’s 85 richest people now have as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.5 billion people.  Wow.  And from Hollywood, “The Wolf of Wall Street” has walked off with a haul of Academy Award nominations.  For some, the latest Hollywood depiction of money-mad sex, drugs and endless greed was just too much.  A tipping point.  Scorcese says it’s art.  Of course, it is.  DiCaprio says it’s a cautionary tale.  OK.  But others are saying “enough.”  This hour On Point:   Hollywood, “The Wolf of the Wall Street,” and the glamour of greed.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

David Edelstein, chief film critic for New York Magazine. Film critic for NPR’s “Fresh Air” and CBS’ “This Morning.”

Issac Chotiner, senior editor at The New Republic. (@IChotiner)

Joel Cohen, prosecutor with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Sam Polk, founder and executive director of Groceryships. Former Wall Street trader. (@SamPolk)

From Tom’s Reading List

L.A. Weekly: An Open Letter to the Makers of The Wolf of Wall Street, and the Wolf Himself — “As an 18-year-old, I had no idea what was going on. But then again, did anyone? Certainly your investors didn’t – and they were left holding the bag when you cashed out your holdings and got rich off their money. So Marty and Leo, while you glide through press junkets and look forward to awards season, let me tell you the truth – what happened to my mother, my two sisters and me.”

The New Republic: The Silly Liberal Attacks on ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ — “It is thus completely beyond me why McDowell’s letter has gotten so much positive attention. Still, it is worth trying to answer the question of whether Scorsese and DiCaprio (and the writer, Terence Winter) either aimed to romanticize—or unintentionally romanticized—Belfort.”

New York Times: For the Love of Money –”I wanted a billion dollars. It’s staggering to think that in the course of five years, I’d gone from being thrilled at my first bonus — $40,000 — to being disappointed when, my second year at the hedge fund, I was paid ‘only’ $1.5 million.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Mike_Card

    What?? Idolize? It’s a movie, for crying out loud! It’s friggin’ entertainment! Get a grip, Tom!

    • nkandersen

      Mike — we hear you, but surely entertainment has echoes beyond the boundaries of the cinema. We’re hoping to explore that today.

      nick andersen
      web producer | on point radio

    • Human2013

      But it’s not entertainment. It’s very real and very threatening to the US economy and the world as witnessed in 08.

      • J__o__h__n

        It is entertainment. Movies didn’t crash the economy.

        • Expanded_Consciousness

          People with a certain view and ethos crashed the economy. Their character and views were shaped by the culture (which includes the films) that they grew up in. Acting like films are as influential as watching a juggler throwing balls in the air is less than insightful. Films are a huge part of the folktales and myths that shape a culture, its zeitgeist, and the character of its people.

          • J__o__h__n

            Of course culture has an effect, but claiming that it is a threat is alarming.

      • Mike_Card

        If you say so. But agree that it’s a fictional story, based on a biography. Put another way, should I idolize a life built on some other fiction like Beowolf?

  • Greg

    Yes belfort enjoyed all the spoils money could buy, but between the drug addiction and the amazingly pathetic and humiliating scene depicting the final moments of his marriage, I didn’t find him to be portrayed as an enviable character whatsoever. Also I thought the epilogue depicting his post-Wall Street life diminished to sleazy infomercial-style get-rich-quick sales not only drove this home but really summarized his character as the tenacious wolf coldly and unapologetically stalking his prey.

    • alsordi

      Actually, I got a completely different take on the final last tacky scene in New Zealand. They pan the seminar attendees not as prey, but as greedy money-lusting non-productive wannabbees, inherent in humankind of all stripes.

  • 12Gary2

    Look-we all know wall street is 95% criminals. It does not take a genius to make billions when you have the inside information on a company and buy/sell accordingly. This is insider trading and everuyone does it. Yes that’s a broad brush but true. My cat could make billions if they could do the insider trading wall street does.

    • alsordi

      And it doesn’t hurt to have cousins or buddies as NSA contractors, sharing information they’ve mined using specific corporate seeking meta-data.

    • Coastghost

      If Wall Street is 95% criminal, what percentage of Hollywood inhabitants (studio execs, producers, directors, actors/actresses, et al.) qualify as criminal?

      • 12Gary2

        Probably a lot there too, however, Hollywood for all its dysfunction did not crash the economy and hurt millions and did not require a tax payer bailout to survive. Big difference. The fact that you even brought up the comparison makes me question your thinking ability.

        If our bought and paid for politicians would have polled the country most of the folks would have let wall street crash and burn and even invoked madam guillotine. Do not underestimate the extreme anger at wall street and the income inequality it causes.

        • Coastghost

          And were I you, I would not underestimate the amount of money that Hollywood feeds into both Wall Street and Washington, DC.

  • Expanded_Consciousness

    1. Scorsese was obviously unrelenting in showing Jordan Belfort to be a scumbag. He had no redeeming features. The movie Wall Street (1987) and gangster films from Scarface (1932) through Goodfellas (1990) and beyond, all glorify (or partly glorify) the anti-hero. They all make scumbags look attractive. A whole bunch of Gordon Gekko wannabes took to careers on Wall Street because of the film (despite his comeuppance at the end).

    2. Do you really want to go back to the days of the Motion Picture Production Code/Hays Code and the Hays Office (1930 – 1968) editing Hollywood scripts, insuring that the bad guy always gets his moral comeuppance in every damn film (unlike in real life). The Wolf of Wall Street is an art film masquerading as a mainstream film. Stop asking societal overlords to sanitize the media for you. Grow up! Belfort is a loser. Out of control addictions. No friends. No love. Abuses his wife and puts his kid at risk. He is still rich in the end. So are all the other amoral Wall Street losers in real life who crashed this economy. If you want a fantasy film, go watch some Capra.

    • Coastghost

      Or: WWS is a mainstream film masquerading as an art film (can’t say, since I’ve not seen it).
      Sounds a lot like a typically commercial Hollywood vehicle (IMDb reports a modest $100 million production budget–irony of ironies!), but in this instance I can’t say how glib the moralizing is. The peddling of glib morality in Hollywood films certainly survived the Hays Code.

  • alsordi

    Its a good thing the world gets to view some of the top “five percenters” depicted in film. This movie was the flip side of Scorsese’s Mean Streets, although DiCaprio was an unrealistic choice for the lead.

  • Human2013

    I’m afraid of the Wolf of Wall street. Wall street is America’s Achilles heel – all smoke and mirros and no real assets. They can sell fire in hell and package it to millions of unsuspecting investors. It truly is one big Ponzi scheme – backed by nothing.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Our economy is nothing but a giant casino, pathetic really. I long for the days when CEO’s were engineers, innovators, and inventors not Harvard MBA money men. I also long for the days when stocks were used to create brick and mortar factories (in the USA) as opposed to just creating cash as another market commodity. This new system is a great one to reward destructive self interest, laziness, and poor decision making.

  • Coastghost

    A great pity Scorcese didn’t follow the lead of a Billy Wilder or a Robert Altman (or even a Nathanael West) and turn the cameras and the fable squarely on Hollywood itself: the glamour capital of the US, the summit of conspicuous consumption, the playground of inebriation and intoxication with drink and drugs of every description, sex-saturated where the money money money hasn’t coagulated, cults of celebrity galore . . . .
    For any who’ve seen it: does WWS offer some kind of (unambiguous) semantic equivalence (“Wall Street” as clear metaphor for “Hollywood”)?

    • jefe68

      Meh.

  • Ms. Spider

    The ethical questions about this film go outside the edges of the movie-screen. The real Belfort still owes his victims somewhere around $100 million, so is it a good thing or a bad thing that he’s allowed to profit from book & movie deals that commodify his life story? However slowly it might be happening, that’s the only way he can offer restitution.

    The film’s narrative focus, to the extent is glamorizes Belfort, is born of this dynamic. I’d like to think Scorsese is fully aware of this meta-narrative and has crafted something of a glossy post-modern koan. Meanwhile, I’m also sure he knows it’s going to play well to the folks in the cheap seats in search of a whole bunch of crass titillation.

  • andrewgarrett

    It’s a movie. As far as poverty goes, the percentage of humans living in poverty has never been smaller. The most dramatic reduction in global poverty has come in the last two or three decades. 42 percent of humanity lived in dire poverty in 1990. Today less than 20 percent live in dire poverty. That’s a huge difference – almost a billion people. That’s great. Globally, life spans have never been longer. It has never been easier to survive infancy. The violence and murder rates have never been lower. It’s a wonderful life. Yes, rich worlders like you and me are obscenely wealthy compared to most of humanity, but the poorest of the world are getting richer and the global middle class is growing.

    • nj_v2

      And yet…

      The gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. has never been greater; ecosystems worldwide are stressed, threatened, or in danger of collapse; global climate change poses economic, ecological, and other challenges; the entire infrastructure of the developed world depends on heretofore cheap, readily available fossil fuels, whose peak we are approaching…

    • Human2013

      This is true, but this is in large part due to the mass migration of people to urban areas. In urban areas, there is no farm land, no way to feed yourself without retail and this is why problems will arise.

  • Ed75

    No wonder the market crashed. Immorality. The wages of sin are death.

    • Yar

      What do you know of morality?

      • Ed75

        A fair amount. But it doesn’t take a lot of knowledge to know that this kind of life needs repentance, no?

        • Yar

          I know not to judge, I prod you along, because I consider you a friend, a brother in Christ.

          • Ed75

            Great, I thought I was all alone out here. A roommate saw this movie, he’s not prude but even he was disgusted. The crtiics kind of said ‘After an hour I was looking at my watch’. But maybe this is what is like.

        • J__o__h__n

          I’d settle for regulation.

          • Labropotes

            I don’t know John. Ed’s kind of puritanical for me, but I don’t think we can have a flourishing society without a strong focus on ethics. Not everyone can be watched. We have to want to be good.

          • J__o__h__n

            Regulation enforces ethics.

          • Labropotes

            !!!

  • Unterthurn

    Found the film disgusting. So many interesting themes and stories to invest time and money into for entertainment and they made this?

    Tell your friends they’re better off doing something else other then watching this trash.

    Also the treatment of women is horrendous.

  • Michiganjf

    WHY THE WEALTHY DO INDEED OWE THE REST:

    Every single dollar earned by the wealthy consumes at least some of the limited resources of this planet, or what one might call “planetary legacy.”
    Whether in paper resources, mineral, energy, rubber, asphalt, petroleum, water, LAND (which is highly limited), food for workers, etc…, resources of some sort are consumed for every dollar earned. Also, some degree of pollution is likely produced.
    Since this is the case and we live on a planet of limited resources, one must question why our society allows the wealthy to use up a disproportional amount of “planetary legacy” for their own personal benefit.

    In other words, a very few are costing the vast majority of current and future generations quite a bit of their planetary legacy.
    They have no right to do this, EXCEPT that our society never gave much thought to what the wealthy really cost the rest of the world and future generations.

     Yes, entrepreneurship itself creates value, but just how much do all future and current generations on Earth owe a single entrepreneur? Should one entrepreneur be allowed to bleed the planet for tens of thousands, or even millions of times the resource cost of the average individual? Our society lets a single wealthy person do exactly that!
    My contention is that the wealthy owe the rest (current and future) due to the very fact that our society allows these few to amass so much unto themselves, for their own private and selfish benefit.

    If they are forced to pay back this debt to society in the form of higher proportional taxes, so be it.
    They SHOULD be forced to pay restitution for the disproportionate amount of limited resources they are allowed to consume, and tax is the easiest, most equitable way for them to do it.

    Even when paying increased taxes, the wealthy still amass wealth and enjoy its benefits beyond the wildest dreams of the vast majority of us.

    The wealthy in the U.S. have no legitimate basis for complaint, since our society is more fair to these individuals than nearly any other nation on Earth, despite what these individuals cost current and future generations in terms of “planetary legacy.”

    The wealthy in America will still have the best of all worlds, despite being asked to PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE, as per this simple, logical argument

  • Yar

    It takes a heap of hype to prop up an economy of entertainment.
    Just saw a story that headlined 85 richest people own as much wealth as half the world’s population which is utter fiction. Wealth cannot be measured in dollars or stocks. Wealth is the ability to put a couple of neurons together and find something to eat and wealth is the ability to take food and convert it to meaningful work. We are not measuring wealth with the stock market, or with money in the bank or even in with our military power. True wealth is measured in happiness, measured in having enough to eat, measured in a safe place to live, measured in your children’s education. Not pursuit of happiness, but achieved happiness. The wolf is not happy. A full belly and a good night’s sleep is about as close as you can come.

  • J__o__h__n

    The greed is good clip could have been played during the first hour too.

  • Ed

    Bad Movie. Glorifies stupidity.

    • Yar

      Didn’t see it. The only movies I saw this past year were Captain Phillips and The Butler.

    • nj_v2

      We obviously didn’t need this program. They could have just posted Ed’s post. Done.

  • Labropotes

    Gordon Gekko? Try Hesiod from around 700 BC.

    “But the [good strife] … stirs up even the shiftless to toil; for a man grows eager to work when he considers his neighbour, a rich man who hastens to plough and plant and put his house in good order; and neighbour vies with his neighbour as he hurries after wealth. This Strife is wholesome for men. And potter is angry with potter, and craftsman with craftsman, and beggar is jealous of beggar, and minstrel of minstrel.”

    • Human2013

      This is when men had some control over their fate. “…a rich man who hastens to plough..” That’s the problem in the modern world. The rich man sit backs while the workers “hasten to plought”. Men and women should certainly benefit from their hardwork, but that’s not how it works in a capitalsim structure. The US workers’ production gains have gone to the rich.

      • Labropotes

        Completely agree. I love that you identified that detail. I’ll remember it each time I read that passage. Thanks.

  • Coastghost

    Surely journalists occupy safe middle-ground, serving only one set of masters at a time.

  • DeJay79

    My wife and I went to the movies the other night for our monthly movie date night.

    She asked if we should go to “the wolf” and I said nahh as much as I like Leo seeing people like that is just going to piss me off.

  • James

    Haven’t seen the movie, but from all of the clips I’ve heard “likable” is not the word I would use to describe DiCaprio’s character.

  • Labropotes

    I would say this myself, but Dr Johnson said it so well: “It is…not a sufficient vindication of a character, that it is drawn as it appears, for many characters ought never to be drawn; nor of a narrative, that the train of events is agreeable to observation and experience, for that observation which is called knowledge of the world, will be found much more frequently to make men cunning than good. The purpose of these writings is surely not only to show mankind, but to provide that they may be seen hereafter with less hazard; to teach the means of avoiding the snares which are laid by Treachery for Innocence, without infusing any wish for that superiority with which the betrayer flatters his vanity; to give the power of counteracting fraud, without the temptation to practise it; to initiate the youth by mock encounters in the art of necessary defense, and to increase prudence without impairing virtue.”

  • Pia Vastatrix

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned the open letter from the daughter of the man the movie is based on: http://www.laweekly.com/informer/2013/12/26/an-open-letter-to-the-makers-of-the-wolf-of-wall-street-and-the-wolf-himself

    • hennorama

      Pia Vastatrix — pssst … it’s at the top of “From Tom’s Reading List,” above.

      • Pia Vastatrix

        oops.

        • hennorama

          Pia Vastatrix — as they say in baseball, “hits happen.”

  • longfeather

    We didn’t need to see the people who were the victims of their behavior. We know them in our own experience. Show a scene of someone opening or blowing up a dam, and we can guess what is going to happen down stream. But, we all know the celebration and greed of these types is for real, and easy to slip into in any competitive team sport, whether physical, economical or political. Try being in the back rooms of political advisers watching the polls after placing a political attack ad.

  • Yar

    We are putting 85 billion a month into the market just to prop up the lie.

  • Twinkie McGovern

    Thanks for hosting this conversation, Tom. I’ve long believed that greed is a mental illness, fully deserving of being listed, in its various forms, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

    If the sufferers of this disease could get early diagnosis and help, then they, and the rest of us, would be much better off. That would be about 180 degrees away from our current fixation on avarice.

  • DPA

    To me, this movie rubs our face in the reality that American is lost to the same lust and perversion that destroyed Rome! Americans watch the destruction of our county and we do nothing! Look around! I measure this base upon the status of the 27 amendments to the constitution. Look closely and you can see the attack taking place. America is falling with hardly a shot fired!

    • Yar

      Plenty of shots have been fired, we are afraid, we are shooting our friends our neighbors and our children. All called accidental shootings, we are killing ourselves through suicide. These are shots fired out of fear and hopelessness.

      • Mari McAvenia

        Yes, this ongoing, slow-mo disintegration of American society is what corporate language terms “externalities”. The reapers employ a scorched earth policy in their incestuous deal making. Nothing is sacred to them. Well, nothing but piles of loot. They have ordinary Americans spinning around like tops, uncertain of anything except the NEED to get more money. Divide and conquer, eh? It’s working well for the “wolves”. Duck and cover, friends, it’s going to get much worse before any change occurs.

  • Yar

    We all lose, from the BP spill, to the WV water contamination, the airline bankruptcy, the failed pensions, the market manipulation, It is stealing from us all, Trading work over time requires honest trades, we have lost integrity.

  • Coastghost

    What kind of credibility does this $100 million “art film” possess when DiCaprio is worth $200 million+ and when Scorsese is worth much more than that? (Whoever does not aspire to Belfort’s accomplishments certainly will keep DiCaprio and Scorsese in high regard.)

    • hennorama

      Coastghost — it’s commercial entertainment via an art form, rather than an “art film” as generally defined. That it is controversial serves both the art and the commerce.

      “Let the market decide” is the usual idiom inserted here.

    • nj_v2

      RIght. Only art produced by poor people has legitimacy. Got it.

      • Coastghost

        Conversely, Springsteen could tell us that $200 million rock ‘n’ roll populism has all the amplification it needs.

        • jefe68

          Yawn.

  • George

    A really fine movie taking a full look at these themes, including the consequences, is “Margin Call”, which passed from the scene without any AA nominations or much notice after fine reviews. The attention paid to Wolf of Wall Street is the result of the same forces at work in Hollywood

  • nj_v2

    Appreciate the smart discussion on this topic today, especially in those instances where Mr Ashbrook can restrain himself from interrupting guests quite as often as he’s sometimes prone to.

  • John_Hamilton

    I wonder if anyone made a comparison with “Bonnie and Clyde,” the Arthur Penn movie from 1967 that was an artistic representation of the lives of two legendary bank robbers during the Great Depression. The movie was controversial at the time for supposedly glorifying bank robbing and murder, but there was no rash of bank robberies afterward. Murder is a constant in American life.

    I’ll see “Wolf of Wall Street” if it comes around to the cheapie theater ($2.50 for matinee). My own judgement on movies is pretty simple, whether I have an experience that takes me somewhere, and if the story is told well. There will likely be some ancillary education about the excesses of our financial industry, but I don’t depend on movies to inform me about matters of great public concern.

    As always, any “issue” about the rightness or wrongness of an artistic expression should be seen in its broader context. We have an infinite-growth, increasingly skewed to the wealthy unsustainable economic system in a condition of progressing global climate change.

    An entertaining movie will not solve this predicament, and will likely not make it worse. By about mid-July, when we are experiencing a long, hot summer beset with drought and forest fires, “The Wolf of Wall Street” will be long forgotten.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Massively popular films are not simply forgotten. They become part of the country’s meta-narrative. Frank Capra’s populist films from decades ago reverberated through Ross Perot’s presidential campaign, and still echo to this day. Films reach millions of viewers and exert their powerful influence through complex, intertexual webs that appeal to both intellectual and emotional understanding, and exert their influence on the mind in ways that are conscious and unconscious.

      • John_Hamilton

        True enough, in isolate. People are saying “You talkin’ to me?” all the time. I don’t write in isolate. My comment was in four paragraphs, with the parts relating to the whole in what is known as a Gestalt. In the overall Gestalt of economic collapse and climate change, AS I SAID, “The Wolf of Wall Street” will indeed be forgotten. There will very likely not be any “You talkin’ to me?” quotes from this movie that will move the human species towards saving itself from itself in the coming days and years.

        • Expanded_Consciousness

          I disagree, Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” still reverberates in the culture, and “The Wolf of Wall Street” will, from here forward, always be thought of when the theme of Wall Street and Hollywood is raised. It will long remain the quintessential unromantic, unrelenting view of Wall Street corruption. The fact that it has been much discussed in the media has further insured its permanent place in the canon.

    • longfeather

      And, I remember what great entertainment “Reefer Madness” when I saw it at age 18. We laughed all the way through it, just as much laughter as when “Silver Streak” came out with Pryor and Gene Wilder. But this was healthy laughter we could all join in on. These Wall Street types, and political tacticians are always laughing at the rest of us poor schnooks.

      • Expanded_Consciousness

        You got the point of the film then. It was not there to entertain you. It was there to replace entertainment vehicles like Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street,” with something closer to reality.

  • AliceOtter33

    Poor, lefty, quasi-communist here to say I LOVED the Wolf of Wall Street.

    I’m convinced that all the moral hand-wringing this film has prompted is the result of an unfortunate trend that is hopefully coming to a head. I’m talking about the tendency towards critiquing any given piece of pop culture not for what it is, but rather for what it is not.

    It’s boring to talk about what the movie was not, so…

    What the Wolf of Wall Street is: A black comedy, a satirical farce. If there is any doubt that Scorsese’s tongue is placed firmly in his cheek, consider his choice to have the tale told in first-person by a protagonist who is repeatedly shown to be not just a suspect narrator of reality, but a textbook sociopath.

    The best description of this film I’ve come across so far comes from a critic writing for Roger Ebert’s review site:

    ( http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-wolf-of-wall-street-2013 )

    “This is a reptilian brain movie. Every frame has scales.”

    Scorsese presents us with the quintessential rise-and-fall tale of the self-made American man… as told by a snake who, at times, literally slithers on his belly across the ground toward whatever his naked id desires.

    And it’s funny as hell….until it’s not. It’s charismatic as hell…until it’s not.

    Scorsese deploys strategic moments of disgust and violence to shake the viewer from Belfort’s vacuous spell. The depiction of Belfort’s personal abuse and exploitation of every last person in his personal orbit is far more powerful than any maudlin litany of his offenses against humanity at large could hope to be.

    Jordan Belfort is essentially a small-time con sanctified by our American free-market orthodoxy to run gloriously amok over us small-time believers.

  • L Swift Palmer

    The Wolf: Consider that basically to be an intelligent and authentic human being on this planet, I need to have an accurate view of myself and the world. This has been defined as practicing and cultivating our heart and soul—compassion and wisdom—rather than ego and delusion that can lead to addiction. Scorsese shows us Belfort, who slides into the ego trap, becomes addicted, and loses his moral compass. And did he have a party!…’til the music stopped. Scorsese shows us this dark side of ourselves. Compare this with Casino, his film of how the mob colonized Las Vegas: Power and money corrupt and down we go. This theme is even more poignant having recently seen DiCaprio in GATSBY, with its theme of avaice, seeing money equated with “the pursuit of happiness.” “when will we ever learn?” This is one of Scorsese’s best work, a fascinating romp into hell and back. The moral question we’re left with is: So who’s running your life, compassion or avarice?

  • tom scatchard

    Today, “The Wolf” conversation on On Point debates how greed is negatively impacting the world, and CBS News This Morning has Bill Gates talking about using science to improve world health and food supply, but I wonder how others see the role of education in combatting hunger, disease and greed. I would pose that elementary and middle level education can be used to help the younger generation understand that SELF is not the ultimate or only goal of their efforts. As teachers for over 30 years, my wife and I are hoping to take a group of 5 6th and 8th graders to Belize to see first hand that all the world doesn’t live like privileged Vermonters. The concept is: see the world; see that we having so much more than others raises some big questions; evolve a mindset as a preteen or teen that total self-interest is not a desirable or acceptable philosophy. Does this make any sense to others? Any thoughts about how to get this idea of showing young students the lives of less privileged families, in order to drive home the concept that taking all you can for yourself is not as worthy as having only your fair share, into the broader national dialog? Twitter? Facebook? Other? Thanks!

  • Coastghost

    Does WWS make clear that the “true story” being depicted transpired largely in the 1990s? Hollywood indulges in anachronism whenever it suits: using a fifteen-year old case to comment on events of the past five years sounds enough of an inducement not to watch this agitprop: the specific context of Belfort’s escapades is the Go-Go 1990s of Bill Clinton.
    Seriously: does the film make its historical context clear?

  • projectorsound

    I had heard the controversy before seeing the film, but I am a bit surprised after having seen it. Jordon is pathetic in this film. The borderline rape scene, after which his wife asks for a divorce, is such a pathetic reflection of his cluelessness, of his deep lacking of human connection…of his emotional poverty.

    Like Goodfellas and Casino, the characters in Wolf are outsiders and wannabes with hugely inflated senses of self. They are not actually successes, but losers. Under the surface, like the characters in those previous films, they are fundamentally pathetic and without honor. In the end of Wolf he has squandered two marriages, ratted on his friends and is a laughable motivational speaker. Where is the glorification I heard was so controversial? Henry Hill meet Jordan Belfort.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Jul 25, 2014
Pallbearers carry a coffin out of a military transport plane during a ceremony to mark the return of the first bodies, of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, from Ukraine at Eindhoven military air base, Eindhoven, Netherlands, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (AP)

Secretary of State Kerry to Israel. Obamacare back in the courts. Mourning as remains of Malaysia Flight 17 victims come home. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Jul 25, 2014
An oven full of hot pies in Beth Howard's Iowa kitchen.' (Courtesy Beth Howard)

There is nothing more American than a piece of pie. We taste and talk pies.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jul 24, 2014
Orchid (Galileo55/Flickr)

We’ll look at the new science of what plants feel, smell, see – and remember.

 
Jul 24, 2014
Youths seen playing basketball through bars on a window at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Ethan Allen School in Wales, Wis. (AP file)

The cold hard facts about juvenile prisons. And the case for shutting them all down. Plus: former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is with us.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Art Of The American Pie: Recipes
Friday, Jul 25, 2014

In the odd chance that our pie hour this week made you hungry — how could it not, right? — we asked our piemaking guests for some of their favorite pie recipes. Enjoy!

More »
Comment
 
Hillary Clinton: ‘The [Russian] Reset Worked’
Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took time out of her global book tour to talk to us about Russia, the press and the global crises shaking the administration she left two years ago.

More »
Comment
 
Where Did Nickel Creek Go?
Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

The Nickel Creek interview originally scheduled for Thursday, July 24 is rescheduled for an as-of-yet undetermined later date. We explain why.

More »
3 Comments