***½/**** Image A+ Sound A Extras C-
starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Jean Dujardin
screenplay by Terence Winter, based on the book by Jordan Belfort
directed by Martin Scorsese
by Angelo Muredda "For us, to live any other way was nuts," Ray Liotta's schnook turned gangster Henry Hill explains early on in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. With that, spoken over a montage of permed Italian men in tailored suits gorging themselves at an upscale restaurant, Hill at once launched a wave of lesser, faux-conflicted pictures about the swanky perks and ethical compromises of organized crime, and raised the fundamental moral question of Scorsese's latest, The Wolf of Wall Street. An unashamedly indulgent, ribald, and formally troubled biopic of Jordan Belfort, this unofficial Goodfellas follow-up likewise revolves around the kind of work that makes living like a pig in shit possible. His kinship to Hill aside, Belfort has had an unusually clear-sailing trajectory to garner the interest of a filmmaker who tends to be drawn to Catholic tales of excess followed by redemptive suffering. Belfort is still a born stockbroker and swindler, despite his working-class origins and federal inquiries and stints in rehab; the fact that he debuted on Wall Street the day of the crash and remains in demand as a guru well after the financial crisis of 2008 seems to give Scorsese and screenwriter Terence Winter pause, as well the astonishing survival rate of cockroaches should. What better way to make a film about such a man, Scorsese and Winter appear to have concluded, than to structure his story as a Roman orgy?