music friday: born to read
throwback thursday, recent edition

what i watched last week

The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013). I can’t blame Scorsese, who is in his 70s, for returning to the well that has given him so much artistic nourishment in the past. And he’s still making good movies ... if my favorite Scorseses are from the 1970s, the 2000s have seen such fine efforts as The Aviator, Hugo, Shine a Light, and especially The Departed. So when I say that The Wolf of Wall Street reminded me a lot of past movies by Scorsese, most particularly Goodfellas, that isn’t a complaint. But as memorable as Goodfellas was, it wasn’t as good as Mean Streets (and Casino was far worse than Goodfellas). And The Wolf of Wall Street isn’t as good as Goodfellas, either. There are diminishing returns. The Wolf of Wall Street deserved its Best Picture Oscar nod, but Gravity and the winner, 12 Years a Slave, were better. The movie got five nominations, all in major categories, and all were legitimate. And Leonardo DiCaprio was magnetic in the title role. So no, this isn’t a complaint. But for all the vibrancy on the screen, I never felt I was seeing something that was more than that vibrancy. The film has been compared to The Great Gatsby (both the novel and film versions), and that’s fine, but The Great Gatsby is one of the greatest novels ever written while The Wolf of Wall Street is a pretty good movie. Even as I write this, I see what I am doing, comparing the movie to classics and then finding it falls short. It’s not fair of me. But I feel like The Wolf of Wall Street got a lot of praise because “Marty’s still got it!” That’s not fair, to Scorsese or to the movie. #319 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century. 7/10.

The Bourne Supremacy (Paul Greengrass, 2004). One of those movies that are praised in part for what they are not. It’s not a stupid action picture of the Transformers variety. It isn’t ludicrous like many James Bond movies are. In fact, many people think the Bourne films had an influence of Casino Royale, which rebooted Bond in an excellent way. I’ve seen the Bourne movies in the wrong order ... I saw the third one, The Bourne  Ultimatum, in 2008, now I’ve seen the second one ... I guess this means I’ll be seeing the first one in the series sometime in 2022. This movie is mostly chase scenes, and they’re good, especially a colossal car chase scene near the end that answers the question, is there really anything new they can do in a car chase? (Yes.) There is a modicum of actual interesting characterization. It’s a pretty good movie. Having said that, it is also an example of what happens when you expand your Greatest 21st Century films list from 250 to 1000. #963 on the TSPDT 21st century list. 7/10.



I think the key to your review of "The Wolf of Wall Street" is "But for all the vibrancy on the screen, I never felt I was seeing something that was more than that vibrancy." I'm not sure we'd say the same for the other (better) Scorsese films you mention.

Steven Rubio

Interesting. I wonder if there is a connection between my opinion here, and my less-than-enthusiastic feelings about Raging Bull, which is the consensus Best Scorsese? I've really thought it through ... I've always thought his peak was Mean Streets/Taxi Driver, didn't think Raging Bull was great, but I suspect I need to reconsider the latter.

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