Unfortunately, Finocchiaro came out of the front door with some children, probably his own. He was taking them to school. I decided not to fire. The next evening, me and the escape driver waited outside the law firm where Finocchiaro worked. Finocchiaro got into his white Fiat 500 and I cut him off and ordered him to get out of the car. I fired two shots. I was tense but I hit him in the side and arm. He fell to his knees and begged me not to kill him. I hesitated. My second gun fell from my trouser pocket onto the ground. In a split second I closed my eyes and pulled the trigger three times.
Two recent reviews of the film from friend-colleagues Richard Brody and Matt Zoller Seitz have addressed some of these issues quite eloquently. I think Matt really gets to the nub of a particularly uncomfortable aspect of the movie in the kicker of his review, which states: "We laugh at the movie, but guys like Belfort will never stop laughing at us." Wouldn't you rather talk about the new Beyonce album a little more, while we can still afford a download, than think about the criminality inherent in certain aspects of income inequality? Most employed movie critics, inasmuch as they are employed, are in a sense pipes in the Mighty Wurlitzer, after all. There is a certain irony that Scorsese's particular critique of capital is such an expensive one, and don't believe for a minute that he is not unaware of it. We all, or most of us, do what we can with the resources made available to us.
Brody reels off a list of Scorsese's strategies that more than, um, hint at a very specific directorial perspective, including "counterfactual scenes, subjective fantasies, and swirling choreography on a grand scale." These things aren't hidden; they are right there on the screen, filling the viewer's eyes and ears. Some, though, are more conspicuous than others. For instance, during one sequence Belfort recounts both the promiscuity and technical sexual virtuosity of a female Stratton Oakmont employee in detail that can only be called "gross." He then muses that another, male, Stratton Oakmont broker married the woman "anyway;" then Belfort tells us, "Three years later he got depressed and killed himself," and there's a flash of a photograph, practically Weegee-esque in its luridness, of a blood-filled bathtub with a dead arm hanging out of it, which the camera can't cut away from fast enough, it seems. But it stays on screen long enough to elicit a gasp, to make a near-viscral impression of the world outside of Belfort's necessarily circumscribed perspective. As do the dour but nearly lyrical shots of Kyle Chandler's F.B.I. agent in exactly the sort of workaday sad-sack scenario he mock-self-effacingly outlines to Belfort in their first meeting. Only by this point of the film Chandler's character is still "free," while Belfort is going to jail. What does it all mean, indeed.
MANUFACTURING CREATES WEALTH! Everything else is just trading. We need to change the system so that investment in regularly updated manufacturing technology becomes a way of life. Companies need to invest in upgrading the efficiency of their plants, equipment and processes instead of being hamstrung by the insistance of "the markets" that they return a uniform and endlessly increasing profit each quarter. That sort of short horizon thinking is killing us. It has succeeded in driving manufacturing offshore. Example: There was an old, inefficient and monumentally polluting steel mill in Seattle. Faced with an EPA requirement to clean it up, they couldn't compete, closed and liquidated the plant. The Chinese bought the place and moved all the equipment to China to be run by cheap labor. Along with it went the business. So what did we gain. An old, inefficient, polluting steel mill in China killing the Chinese workers who work for nothing and are not protected by reasonable safey and environmental regulations-just so we can get cheaper steel of dubious quality. Had national tax policy fostered upgrading or our industrial base, the same steel could have been produced domestically in an efficient new plant. This situation and others like it were repeated thousands of times in the past 25 years while our manufacturing base has dissolved before our eyes. This is morally indefensible from an American policy perspective. Yet it is swollowed whole by policy makers cow towing to "market forces". We have just seen where that leads. If perceptive, sensitive journalists such as Bill Moyers don't take up the cause of returning our economy to some sort of rational basis, I fear we are really doomed.
I don't think we have a Constitution problem; I think we have a people problem. A bunch of greedy, arrogant people have perverted it. I've noticed this also happens with religion. People can take a perfectly good scripture that preaches love, humility and forgiveness, and they can twist it to give themselves an excuse for hate and war. They might accompany it with the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, which would keep them from falling into the extremist pit (most of the time). We have people in our current administration who may profess to be church-goers, yet seem to have no soul. You look into their eyes, and there seems to be nobody home. And they think war is the answer. And thousands cheer their empty slogans. They make you wonder, Is it me? What am I missing here? (this is a funny coincidence--the security words this program is asking me to type are: pride war) 2b1af7f3a8