Last night Martin Scorsese’s ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ came home, and premiered at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City.
Let me premise this review by saying that I don’t go to these things — these Hollywood glitterati everyone-hold-your-breath-there’s-Leo things. These suck-it-in-you’re-on-the-red-carpet-now-smile things.
But I had a killer, killer time. It wasn’t hard. The crowd was positive, the movie — the story of a crooked Wall Streeter and his opulent rise and ugly fall — had chops (though I’ll get to my qualms in a moment), and the after party was fun.
The movie started early, at 6:00 pm. This may have something to do with the fact that it is about three hours long (a problem). I had one drink before the film started rolling. I wish I’d had two, as I skipped the red carpet anyway.
And I recommend that all civilians (non-film) people do this. In skipping the red carpet I skipped the squealing, flashing, and crowding that more resembles Times Square traffic than an actual celebration. Plus, you get a good spot to watch people walk in and out of the theatre. Those are the money sightings. Remember that.
Now for the movie. The Wolf of Wall Street is the story of Jordan Belfort, a Queens kid turned penny stock hustler who made a fortune on Long Island in the 80s and 90s. They way Scorsese tells it, Belfort’s firm, Stratton-Oakmont, was basically a non-stop orgy of greed, drugs, money and sex. Belfort’s personal life was like that too.
The first hour or so of the movie was hilarious. This was Belfort’s rise — his introduction to Wall Street and his A-Ha moment. The moment he realises he can teach any idiots to sell stocks to idiots. The idiots he finds to do the selling are pitch perfect, especially Donnie Azoff (played by Jonah Hill in a perfect pair of prosthetic teeth).
Some coke, crack and a ton of Quaaludes later Belfort is rich beyond belief and married to his second wife, a bombshell named Naomi, played by Margot Robbie. Both Robbie and Hill team up to steal the show from DiCaprio. He was good, yes. But they were better.
If I had driven to the North Shore of Long Island directly after the movie and cut off a Escalade on the highway, it could easily have been Robbie and Hill flipping me off from the front seat as they drove away. That’s how spot on they were.
Plus, Bo Deedle played a private investigator in the movie, Fran Lebowitz had a cameo, and the soundtrack was full of 90s dance party tunes that had me thinking about MTV Jamz and In Living Colour re-runs.
There were some issues though. Belfort’s real victims, the investors who lost money, were nowhere to found. That made it harder to see how he was more than a degenerate, he was a criminal. He lied to people and took their money. That shouldn’t be forgotten.
Additionally, the movie was too long. I won’t mention where I started to fidget in my seat — I’ve already said much too much — but (and I never thought I’d type this) maybe there was too much yachting.
None of this, obviously, is what makes a premiere special, though. Anyone can see the movie in the theatre. What’s cool about the premiere is that a guy behind me whispered “hey, that’s my pillow,” during one of the scenes in Belfort’s living room. The people that made the movie were there. They finally got to celebrate the furniture they donated, the money they spent, the actors they dressed — what have you. That’s what makes a premiere cool. You get to pretend you’re part of the family.
And after-parties. Those make it cool too. The Wolf Of Wall Street after-party was at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC. It’s a venue that sees more “18-and-over” concerts than Hollywood blow-outs, but it looked great.
The party was a mix of freezing girls in cocktail dresses dresses, New York City social royalty, film industry folk, and of course, the stars.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese were there sitting at a table near the DJ. I didn’t get close because they were mobbed, and it seemed like a lot of work. Like, real “cut through body guards, avoid the girl having a silent melt-down and don’t spill your drink” work.
The key to the after-party is not to spend your time stalking people, but to find a bar and post up. Everyone needs a drink, and in doing that you’ll watch a lot of key people go by, like Kevin Connolly from Entourage (I’ve always had a soft spot for E, don’t judge me).
More importantly, try to go with an industry person who actually knows the people that made the event happen — the planners, the media connectors, the sponsor finders. They are the silent force that moves this entire show along.
The night in general was about that force. At a premiere, the movie is the icing, the celebration is the cake.
Let them eat cake.