I’m still mulling over the movie Jim and I saw last night, The Wolf of Wall Street. I was forewarned by my sons about the graphic language, nudity, and sex & drug scenes. Honestly, when my own kids warn me not to see it, it makes the 12-year old in me resurface, and want to see it even more. My reasons for wanting to see this movie are numerous.
First, although I lived a life insulated from the decadence and debauchery that is portrayed in the film, I knew it was a great time to be in NYC. Jim worked on Wall Street at Oppenheimer & Co when I met him in July, 1989. He was living on the fringe of all that, making those “coffee-regular” commutes on the 1-2-3 train to the Cortland Ave/Wall Street stop. Ours were not the cocaine/qualuude-fueled nights that the movie depicted, but rather tequila shots at the Bear Bar on the Upper West Side were part of the backdrop of our love story.
I’m a Leo DiCaprio fan, and he was a huge draw. Mostly though, it was the time frame. The era and cultural references, scenery, and music. This movie was a sensory experience on any level, but it sent me back in 1989/90s for a solid 3 hours. The STELLAR cast was icing on the cake. Wall Street (in particular, stockbrokers’) language and sense of humor has always been crude, rude, and brash. So I expected the 500+ F-words. I can honestly say, having been around some of these people, the movie’s use of the word was not gratuitous, as much as it was spot-on. These people swear like mother-fuckers.
Martin Scorcese is known for his in-your-face realness when he directs a film. This film follows stays true to that. I must admit that there were scenes that took me aback, as I’ve simply not heard of or been exposed to some things. But I wasn’t offended. I felt like I had a bit of a schooling in some raunchy human behaviors, which frankly, I found creative in a manner of speaking. I think this is what my sons were warning me about. The debauchery part. But that’s also fascinating to me because I lived there when all this was happening in a very close parallel universe.
I loved the fashion. . . it resonated with me. The soft pastels and linens for the men in Hamptons-mode; Vuarnet sunglasses, the heavy metallic buttons and chains and nubby wools of Chanel suits for women. . . and I could go on. I think the casting was amazing. They sought out an extras-cast who were very body-appropriate for the 80s. Let’s face it, our bodies looked different then; women being “buff” was not quite the statement is is today. There were plenty of jiggly behinds and no boob-jobs; women’s bodies were just a bit softer then.
Then there was Jordan Belfort, The Wolf, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. I think I’ve read that he and Martin Scorcese have done nearly a dozen films together. Well, I understand the synergy. “Marty” encourages & pulls out utter intensity in Leo. And Leo delivers Every. Single. Time.
So all this stuff that’s ruminating in my head lead me to a quick Wikipedia search of Jordan Belfort. Lots of small-world connections that I feel, hence a six-degrees-of-separation feeling. First, I love his name, as my first son is a Jordan. Second, Belfort is only 4 years older than Jim and me; he moved to NYC at 22, too. He was a Biology major at American University and spent at year studying dentistry at Baltimore College for Dental Surgery/Univ of Maryland, as did my Jim. Belfort made his “Wolf” fortune in penny stocks, and that much I know I remember from my NYC days: post Berlin-Wall crumble, post-Tiannamen Square, junk bond/penny stocks days. Back when we young American Airlines flight attendants were fighting to have smoking banned from domestic flights under 2 hours. Who knew there was an apocalyptic free-for-all happening in the offices of Stratton & Oakmont?
There are so many talented performances among this year’s Academy Awards nominees. But personally, I’ll be rooting for Leonardo. He embodied late ’80s/early ’90s financial industry bravado, and then some. If you are so inclined, go check out the cast and crew listed on IMDb (Internet Movie Database). There are 30 people listed in the Makeup department (includes technicians and hair stylists). I salute them! P
The photos below: first, our original group of 4 out of 6 flight attendant roommates. Each of us an American Airlines f/a on our way to our first NYC apartment at 51st and 7th. Second, Jim and me in that mid-town apartment, 1989.