Dec 27, 2013


From my review of The Wolf of Wall Street:— 
Scorsese’s sense of sin, from Whose That Knocking At My Door? on has always been from the inside out. It’s not enough to show sin. Nor is it enough to tell the audience that sin is sinful. Scorsese wants the audience to feel as if they have sinned — exiting the theatre sheepish with our own enjoyment. His pitch-fork atunement to lives that are both spiritually dead and, at the same time, astonishingly vital — rotten but ripe, like apples in Dutch nature mortes — is even more acute than it was when he made Goodfellas and Casino, although he is not nearly as interested in the details of money-laundering, or bribery, as he was in those pictures. Winter’s script make no attempt to explain Belfont’s scams to us — several times, he tries, and then gives up, with a wave of his hand, “you don’t give a shit, do you?” — and the line gets at what is so shallow about Wolf of Wall Street and most gleeful. Whatever depths it possessed do not come from the world of finance, just as Raging Bull’s depths did not come from the world of boxing, but from the intimate knowledge of his own self-destruction that Scorsese experienced in the seventies as he rose, meteor-like, to drug-fuelled, Palme—D’Or-winning heights, before burning up in his own heat.   This is the story behind Raging Bull and Goodfellas and Casino, too. It is burned into his psyche — the only story really worth telling. Any time Scorsese’s filmmaking gets near this arc, it catches fire spectacularly and the movie takes off in a shower of sparks, but with slightly less sense consequence and greater giddiness each time, as the memory of the lows fade and the highs burn in retrospect ever brighter. In The Wolf of Wall Street the 71-year-old director films as if sucking the sap from his stripling actors. Make no mistake: He is the wolf. (A-) 
Approaching the final chapter of my Scorsese book, my listing of his films has altered a little. The top five are unaltered, but The Last Waltz  has risen (as have all the docs) and The Wolf of Wall Street has snuck into the top ten. The Departed has slipped a little. 
1. Taxi Driver
2. Goodfellas
3. Mean Streets
4. Raging Bull
5. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
6. Italianamerican
7. The Departed
8. The Last Waltz
9. The Color of Money 
10. The Wolf of Wall Street
11. Casino  
10. The King Of Comedy
13. Kundun
14. The Age of Innocence
15. Who's That Knocking at My Door?
16. After Hours
17. Shine a Light
18. Bringing Out The Dead
19. The Last Temptation of Christ
20. Shutter Island
21. Boxcar Bertha
22. Hugo
23. New York, New York
24. Gangs of New York
25. The Aviator
26. Cape Fear 


  1. Nice to see your ranking of all of Scorsese films, quite the interesting filmography he's turned up. You say "Scorsese" you instantly think of windows into the life of violent men, but he's got screwball comedies, a costume period drama, a 3D kids film, a pair of hoaky horror genre pieces, KUNDUN. Should make an interesting Retrospective!

    And thank you for standing up for The Color of Money, I always feel like I'm the last person on the planet who really liked that one. The sport of billiards has never looked so dynamic; he makes the table look like a gladiator arena.

  2. Wow - someone who agrees with me regarding the piles that are Cape Fear and Gangs Of New York.

    Also - this list just points out the lack of overall quality once you get past the top five.

  3. Movies in this category often bores me out but this one is an exception. I am engaged from beginning to end and it's nice to get that business and life lesson in the end.

  4. I enjoyed the film. I thought it was funny, totally shallow, self obsorbed, and while the characters were funny they were really kind of uninteresting... but isn't that the point... they are all a bunch of losers in real life, having to plot and scheem to make it BIG so they can be the cool kids... but still the big firms will not accept them which just causes them to try harder to be wanna bees... I thought that was the point... I see a lot of negative reviews who say that it sucks because it's shallow.. but DUH... anyway I like your list, it's pretty spot on to mine, but the Departed is in the top five for me. The thing is, with TWOWS, is I kind of like Belford. I mean he is chraming in the film, likeable, honest to some extent about how shallow and how much of a low life he is (at least to the audience) so I kept wanting him to just "do the right thing" because he was smart, charming, and he could have been legit but the fact that he isn't just makes him what he is in the film.

  5. Right about the guilt, I reckon. An 'A-' rating feels fair, too, if we're talking in relative terms. I mean: 'A-' when considered as a Scorsese film; as just a 2013 movie, it's surely an 'A'?

    One niggle: it's 'Who's That Knocking at My Door', not 'Whose That Knocking at My Door'.

    Does this catch entitle me to offer you my own thoughts on Scorsese?:

  6. The Wolf of Wall Street was excellent in aspects of story and structure. The acting was great, which is to be expected with stars, such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. These actors truly outdid themselves in their respective roles. Unfortunately, the one big problem with the movie is that it was far too long. Some of the speech scenes should have been cut shorter and although the drug-induced stupors were comical they too lasted too long. All in all, the film was great but I was ready for it to be over before it was.

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  8. This movie was so over-the-top. But it was such a GOOD movie. Disturbing, but really good. I couldn't take my eyes away from the screen for a minute, I was so afraid I was going to miss something. I had wanted to see this in the theater, but didn't get a chance. Boy am I sure glad I got to see it on Prime, cause I'm not sure I would've ever gotten around to seeing it any other way.

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