WOLF OF WALL STREET…

Just got back from the three hour extravaganza. Hmmmmm.

Needed a bit more time in the editing department. I hate saying that, because Thelma Schoonmaker is amazingly talented, but this time she stumbled.

The final bit of the movie, literally the last minute, is a textbook example of when you should cut, but don’t…

Early in the movie, the hero is at a booth in a restaurant and says to his buddies, “Sell me this pen.” One of them takes him up on it, and does a great job of being a salesman.

CUT TO: a couple of hours later.

Very end of the movie…
Hero is talking to a room full of people.
Leans forward to a guy, smiles the smile we’ve come to know, and says, “Sell me this pen.” BANG. CUT TO BLACK. DIRECTED BY MARTIN SCORSESE.

That’s what they should have done, but didn’t.

He says, “Sell me this pen,” and the guy he’s talking to stumbles through a couple of dumb sentences about why the pen is great. And they do it two more times. “Sell me this pen.” Bland sales dialogue. “Sell me this pen.” Bland sales attempt. And then, finally, CUT TO BLACK. DIRECTED BY MARTIN SCORSESE.

The correct end point was the instant after he said “Sell me this pen.” the first time. The perfect place to end the scene. And many scenes in the movie just kept on… going… When you see the movie, see if you think I’m right.

When you read your rough draft, look to see if you’ve got places you can cut out of a scene… but keep… on… going… Just because you have momentum, doesn’t mean you should freewheel forward.

The guy sitting in front of me, when we all stood up, said, “Is it 2015?”

I really, really wanted to like the movie, because the trailer was fantastic, but it was a snooze fest. I’m so sad to say.

Do you agree?

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “WOLF OF WALL STREET…

  1. Josh

    I loved the movie! However, I agree with everything you said about it. It had flaws. But I’ll take a movie like this any day over a movie like American Hustle. Maybe I was distracted by Margot Robbie though. Boogie Nights comes to mind as a movie that was flawed in the editing department as well. I know it was PTAs first major film, but Boogie Nights dragged in the second half to the point where it was not rewatchable. And it too had great settings and memorable scenes but had scenes go on way too long.

  2. J house

    This was the worst movie I’ve ever seen, even if the editing was done well. It’s all just sex, drugs and drinking. I understand a little but it was too excessive for this movie. It was too long and I just think it sends off a wrong message. Worst movie I’ve seen in a very long time.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Everyone has different taste. Had you seen the trailer? The movie was about excess and it had to show it. I do agree, it was tooooo long.

    • R. Pasternak

      I agree this was the worst movie I’ve ever seen too! Leonardo owes me
      $26 bucks and 3 hours of my life back. I’m usually a fan of his but he should
      be ashamed of this greedy selfish sick foul mouthed film. I’m a modern guy
      and can dig some drug fueled prostitute scenes but this was so over the top
      it was sickening. Almost every second word was F this and F that for 3
      painful hours, Leonardo should have passed on this script!!!

      • R. Pasternak

        Forgot to mention I was so embarrassed about taking my girlfriend
        to this film I had to apologize to her. If your lady has any class avoid
        taking her to this foul mouthed train wreck of a film! We left before
        it was over!!!
        R.Pasternak

      • yourscreenplaysucks

        I agree it was foul mouthed. Not a train wreck though. Not your cup of tea, to be sure, but in no way a train wreck. It is an extremely well made film. It was not really my cuppa tea, either, but I have plenty of friends who loved it. You were 100% correct to leave. You paid your money, but you don’t owe anyone to stick it out to the end. Movies do not get better as they go along. If you dislike it, leave. I’ve never regretted walking out of a movie.

      • yourscreenplaysucks

        WOLF OF WALL STREET is a movie I didn’t love. It’ not a bad movie by any means. It’s pretty damn good, but I thought it was too long. The language was wholly appropriate to the story, as the movie was about Wall Street guys, and that’s the way they talk. The script, including the language, must be appropriate to the characters. If you don’t enjoy that kind of language, don’t subject yourself to it. A movie about gangsters will have bad language. So too, a movie about Wall Street guys. I never felt the film was over the top. It seemed 100% accurate. That’s the way those guys behaved. And spoke.

  3. moviegoer

    We got up and walked out about an hour into it, to catch the start of another movie. I tried to give it time to suck me in, but the gratuitous sex and drugs was a real distraction. People keep talking about the comedy, but very few people around me were laughing in my theater, including me. Hill’s teeth and what I guess was Jersey accent was the only interesting acting ability. I found it a movie about the next coke binge rather then someone successfully bilking millions from Wall Street. My husband and I keep making jokes about the scene where Jordan blows coke up the hookers butt. We laugh until our sides hurt, the irony, it was suppose to be a scene that invoked carnal knowledge and stir the loins….what a joke.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Sexy, it was not. Funny… I laughed some, but it was not a comedy.

      My rule, about the only New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever kept, “Walk out of a movie the FIRST time you think you should walk out.” I’ve left five minutes in… It’s never, ever a mistake. They do not get better with age.

  4. I think you nailed it. The theme of the movie was definitely about excess. Apparently Scorese didn’t think the audience would get it until he made the point repeatedly. And repetitiously. And redundantly.

  5. Carol Ann

    Didn’t like the trailer on T.V., so wasn’t planning to view it. Good decision from the comments. Give me a good sci fi movie any day. However, I did like the crisp ending suggested by our host.

  6. MDTHAC

    Right, dealing with the statement of cutting at the end, this was clearly done to show that most people do not know how to sell even the most everyday products.

    When it comes to the ‘excess’ of drink, drugs, prostitutes and swearing, not to mention cash, please do keep in mind that this was based closely on the exploits of a bunch of top salesmen where nothing was out of their reach. In order to tell this story effectively and convey the absurdity of their antics I believe that Scorsese got it spot on. If you have ever been around a sales desk, especially in the city, then you would understand this!

    I am not saying that I agree with all of their behaviour but I do not want films to brush over events when telling such a story, why would you?

    In any case you are of course entitled to your opinion but maybe you should stick to Sci-Fi or the animated classics!

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Ah.
      I disagree.
      And since it’s my website, I get to.
      I’m not Scorsese, and I have no idea why he made the choices he made.
      But.
      Boring trumps all. Including realistic.

      It doesn’t matter, in a movie, what people in the know think. What matters is what the people who go see the movie think. And, I think, had the scene cut at “Sell me this pen,” it would have been more powerful.
      The fact that no one knows how to sell like the hero may have been the point, but I didn’t see it. I’ve had the same thing explained several times to me, “We see the hero and his new, awful life.” “He’s teaching losers.” “They are all morons, and at the end, he sees he’s been saddled with morons.”

      All that may be true.
      But, had he cut at “Sell me this pen.” it would have had greater impact.
      What I’d love to know, is, did he and his editor discuss that option???????

  7. SA CARPENTER

    Mr. Akers,

    I have to agree with your analysis of the script. I saw the movie and felt it was a little long AND LOOSE. However, looking at Margot Robbie for over 70 minutes wasn’t so bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    She’s the kind of girl that makes a man want to go down…under!

  8. pico_de_gallo

    “Sell me this pen” has to rank along side “ABC – Always Be Closing” as one of the great sales lines on film. That said, completely agree with the ending scene.

    While I like Leonardo in films, I have no freaking idea how some schmuck like him get nominated for Best Actor. Except for something like Gilbert Grape, he has played almost the EXACT SAME CHARACTER in every role he plays! I get it, it works – but that’s not a Best Actor. That’s a “we need a charming asshole to fill the seats at the megaplex” guy. And don’t get met started on Jonah Hill, and what overpaid clown he always plays.

    My favorite film of 2013 – The Past. Best director and storyteller on the planet right now.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Have you seen BLOOD DIAMOND?

      • pico_de_gallo

        No, I have not. I did enjoy Leo in The Departed though. I just don’t get the nomination for this role, which is not too different from Gatsby, Django, Inception, Catch Me If You Can, etc.

      • yourscreenplaysucks

        I thought WOLF OF WALL STREET was not an Oscar winning performance. It will be interesting to see who does win, of course.

  9. Roger

    Your assessment is wrong because you actually didnt get the point of the ending. It was Belfort trying to find out whether any ‘regular joe’ was a salesman like his past friends. It’s a great ambiguous shot that asks whether the seminar audience has any idea of becoming a businessman. It’s not about momentum but getting to revel in the moments. That’s why the cut hinges over Belfort, we see his reaction and a desperation through his eyes at the end asking numerous audience members. Salesmanship is also a theme filled throughout the movie, how can you sell “garbage to garbagemen” by convincing them that they need it. So the cut at the end is justified. Yes, the movie is long and exhausting, but most of the scenes in their appropriate time are necessary to drive the point or build to that point.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      I’m wrong! I can’t be WRONG! It’s my website…
      Well, maybe.
      I liked what you say, and it makes good sense.
      Still think I’m right, though.
      But what you say does make good sense.

  10. I edit for a living and I can honestly say, the editing was non-existent in places. It droned on like a student film whose director was too “in love” with the scene to cut it. Horrible. Scorsese TOTALLY phoned this one in. Its strange how this happens to older successful directors – they surround themselves with people who never tell them “no” and don’t DARE suggest a cut to the “master”. How about that guy that got fired for cleaning a fish bowl the day that the “ULTRA SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT” client is coming in and then 5 minutes later everybody is beaning that client with spit wads and hissing at him? Did Scorsese forget that 3 minutes before he was trying to build tension at the prospect of landing the first big client? It was horrible. Someone should have suggested cutting the fishbowl scene it made NO sense and should have been a bonus feature on the VHS release. This movie tried to hard to be Casino and Goodfellas and Titanic and Saving Gilbert Grape all at once. It was annoying. I think I’m done with Scorsese films…add him to the Spielberg and Burton list of “jumping the shark” and “nuking the fridge” directors.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Thank you, George. I often wonder about filmmakers when they have no one to “yell” at them any longer. I wonder who tells Woody Allen when he’s gone over the line? Someone must, I think. Though, he may do it all himself. Everyone needs someone to bounce ideas off of. Otherwise, you have to be a genius. Which is not easy.

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