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Video Stream: 'Wolf' goes to recent past for look at present

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Leonardo DiCaprio may never win an Oscar.
Or he was born under a bad sign to give the Oscar-nominated performance he gave in The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount Studios, Rated R, $24.99-$39.99 depending on version and format, 4-of-5 stars) in the same year Matthew McConaughey gives the turn of a career in Dallas Buyers Club.
DiCaprio, however, accomplished the same. The problem: the awards voting communities value nobility (McConaughey’s role as an HIV victim) over a morally decrepit, avaricious bastard like Jordan Belfort, a real-life Wall Street stockbroker who built a firm of questionable standards from scratch. Ultimately, he lives the life that most Americans dream about. Any need taken care of. Any want bought with a snap of the fingers.
Beautiful women? No problem. Mountains of cocaine? Yup. Belfort is the epitome of hedonistic excess. In fact, the depiction of his life and lifestyle proved too hedonistic for some who wondered why director Martin Scorsese would make a film with the most uses of the f-bomb in one film ever, rapacious drug use and graphic, very graphic, sexual content.
Quite simply: The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese’s indictment of the current economic system that holds Americans in its grip. That’s the point many missed by concentrating on Belfort’s vices as opposed to the way he viewed his marks that he pushed penny stocks and other dubious investments. Showing the excess and all of its morally bankrupt glory helps convey Scorsese’s message.
If there’s one problem with Wolf it’s that it feels choppy and there’s a reason for it: another hour of footage exists – footage that won’t be seen. Scorsese doesn’t believe in director’s cuts, so the likelihood of seeing it is slim and none. If he ever changes his mind, he has an immense filmography with which to tinker.
Extras: There’s but one extra on the blu-ray: The Wolf Pack, behind-the-scenes featurette that fleshes out some of the film’s elements. Other than that there is a digital copy. Paramount, unlike some studios, still includes UltraViolet and iTunes digital copies for consumer flexibility. Bravo to them for that.
Catching up: This space related to home entertainment releases hasn’t been filled the way that it should in recent weeks. Forgive the intrusion of life for that reality. By now, for those who are so inclined, most of this year’s Oscar films are out including best picture winner 12 Years a Slave. If the circumstances that surround brutality can ever be considered beautiful, this film may be it…American Hustle made its home debut last week as did Walt Disney Studio’s Frozen, the film whose attraction escapes me. Even more bewildering: the fact that Let It Go took home the Oscar for best song. So it goes.
Coming attractions: The blu-ray of the HBO series True Detective hits various video sources June 10th…Look for Spike Jones’ Her on various formats on May 13th…The Sylvester Stallone-Robert DeNiro comedy Grudge Match arrives April 8.

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