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Adam Truscott Says Wolf Of Wall Street and 12 Years Are Stone Cold Classics

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The One Where Scorcese Out Scorcese’s Himself, Making January 2014 The Best On Record

I sat still in the cinema when Wolf Of Wall Street (Herein: Wolfstreet) finished.

As the end title cards turned into a mash up of McConaughey’s brilliant uh-uh-huh ritual (apparently his real voice training he does pre-scenes), I felt a bit empty. Maybe it was a sinking feeling that McConaughey would throw it all away again. Or maybe it was the feeling that I’ll have when I see Leo and Marty duped at the Oscars.

Nothing to do with what I’d seen in the three hours previous – that’s for damn sure. Wolfstreet is a masterpiece. Not a minor one. A flat out, stone cold classic.

So why so serious, then?

Well, I’d just watched the film of the year. No question. And it was only two weeks into January. Seriously, it’s all downhill from here.

It’s worth noting I’d been to see 12 Years A Slave previously that day. 5 1/2 hours in a cinema. I know, right? Winning at life.

But not only can I not muster a review of 12 Years, I’m not sure how I feel after seeing it.

You see, I know exactly how I feel after Wolfstreet. Apart from the flatness, I was exhilarated. I’ve never done drugs, never will, but through the power of editing, Scorcese has given me a sampler. And I hated what I saw. Wonky cameras and sickness galore, as Leo and Jonah (outrageously good), come back down. I’m not getting how people are criticizing this film for glamourising drugs. When  Leo thumps his wife at the end, I was as disgusted as I’ve ever been in a cinema. These aren’t nice people.

Now if there is a god, Leo gets the Oscar. Hands down, it’s the ballsiest performance this year. No, he doesn’t dress as a lady. He doesn’t lose a ton of weight. He doesn’t tackle race. But he captures you for three hours flat – breaking the fourth wall in my favourite way imaginable. He’s in almost every scene. When he’s not, he’s all over the film. It’s a tour de force that, subject matter aside, will have people drooling.

And I think that’s the other explanation for my sadness.

Leo as Marty’s muse won’t be forever. Brilliant film after brilliant film, and now what? I’m not sure. until I know that empty feeling will sit in the pit of my stomach. As I got Home and Dad enquired urgently as to how it was, I had to address that issue. “When Scorcese’s gone, I’ll mourn forever”, I said – or something even more dramatic.

I’m not sure I could love him more.

But what of Wolfstreet? What of the debauchery and sexiness that had me shuddering when I saw a Mum/Dad/Daughter/ Boyfriend combo come in to watch it together…. and leave soon after? Well, it is what it is.

On returning I made the point to some close friends that Leo in Romeo or Titanic this was not. His opening scene had him doing coke off a hookers backside, I said. Don’t go near it. It’s not for you. You’re not ready etc. And then I realised…. actually I think his first scene is him getting a blowie in his car. So…. not so bad.

To Leo’s immense credit, he makes a detestable character partially likeable. But this doesn’t glamourise the lifestyle at all, for me. This film is as much about 80’s excess as it is Wall Street. Sure, they have orgies on plane journeys. Who wouldn’t want that? But they all get their comeuppance, too. In probably the best way we’ve seen since Goodfellas, in fact. You know it’s coming. And Scorcese keeps winding it in, all of the time. It’s really quite masterful.

Now, 12 Years does that too. it ends up exactly where it set out to be – but how can you laud a film you never want to see again? I suppose it’s not dissimilar to Schindler’s List in that sense. I’ve never really re-visited. I find it too tough to watch. And yet I can set there and watch Private Ryan. That’s a bit odd actually, isn’t it?

It doesn’t diminish the power of 12 Years. I wept like a baby, exactly as I was “meant to”. And I won’t begrudge it any of its inevitable awards. It will get showered. And rightly so. But, at the risk of getting stoned (and not in a Marty way), the people yelling “torture porn” at it, aren’t a  million miles away. In Mad Mel’s defence, this is easily as pornographic as Passion in terms of whips and scourging. I was wincing much like I remember my Dad recollecting seeing Casino for the first time. So, as ever, I just want a bit of consistency.

It’s all totally necessary, of course. It’s not superfluous, but then I’m not sure it was in Passion, either. And there’s certainly no glee in any of it. It just becomes a bit of an ordeal. Tough to watch, however good Paul Dano is.

It will sit on the Blu Ray shelf in a nice steel box. If it sits there at all.

Wolfstreet? That will be watched annually. Much like Departed. I’ll see new things in it each time, and be sad when it’s over. That feeling of, do I have enough time to watch it again, halfway through watching. I only ever got that on Goodfellas, Pulp, Fight Club and Heat before. I’m putting Wolfstreet up there with all of them.

I can’t not mention the cast of 12 Years. It’s a masterclass, too. Fassbender is a genius. About time he gets more credit. And that’s with out mentioning how Brad Pitt is starting to channel the mature, looking back on life type of role that he was previously mentored in by Redford and Hopkins. Brilliantly done. And Chiwetel? Well he’s stunning, obviously. And if anyone could level 12 Years as being underrated in any area, I’d say it was his performance. If that’s Denzel, people are saying it’s the best acting of all time. Give him some due, he’s heartbreaking. The performance of the film comes from Lupita Nyong’o. I can’t even begin to describe how moving her performance is. Go see it for sure. But expect to be ruined by it.

Steve McQueen remains one to watch, of course. But anyone who saw Shame knows that. He may even be Scorcese’s heart apparent after some nifty editing as we see the same scene twice – or better – when the title card comes up ten minutes in. All very well managed. It’s truly impressive stuff, I just don’t know if I’ll want to survive it again. I was going to say “endure” it again, then – but that would be totally wrong, and massively disrespectful.

Oh, Wolfstreet. How do you do the things you do?

I think I want my closing bit of gushing to be rewarded to Jonah Hill. We knew the boy could act. Tarantino proved that last year. But here he shows a darker side I don’t know about. So much so that I can’t escape one last folly for Scorecse and Leo. One last hurrah. Get them in pin stripe suits tackling Sinatra. And get Jonah Hill to go all Pesci on someones ass. preferably with a vice.

Thanks to these two and American Hustle, we may have just had our best ever January. Good for us.

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