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The Cinema of Excess in Understanding Art House: The Wolf of Wall Street

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You all know I love a great video essay, and it just so happens I’m also a fan of Martin Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Nerdwriter, aka Evan Puschak, has put together another one of his fantastic Understanding Art House videos, this time addressing the frequently misunderstood Wolf.


What I appreciate most about this video is the comparison to films addressing similar concerns coming out of the 1980’s, specifically Wall Street and Goodfellas. Each of them attack a life of greedy excess, and while they show this lifestyle, they also label it as bad. The difference, Puschak puts forth, inspired by an essay by Izzy Black, is that Wolf (and other recent films like Spring Breakers) shows the excess (excessively, in fact) but leaves room for a significant amount of interpretation on how bad it is. Though the audience would be hard pressed to miss the dangers Jordan Belfort puts himself and those close to him in, he also ends up more or less unpunished, at least by government and society, in the film. We are left looking back at ourselves for judgement on this man, and the truth is many of us would chose at least the option to have his lifestyle.

If you found yourself liking, hating, or still deciding on The Wolf of Wall Street, definitely check this out. But be warned, NSFW.

Author: Erin Perry

I'm a high school English teacher specializing in AP Literature and Film Analysis. I'm interested in most things geeky, including superheroes, vampires, zombies, teen culture, postmodern philosophy, pop culture analysis, and combinations of the aforementioned. Follow me on Twitter @eriuperry.

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