GOLDEN GLOBES: Leonardo DiCaprio hits town February 6 at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, his movie The Wolf of Wall Street giving a new meaning to the recent Golden Globes award.
More bare breasts — along with just about everything else — are on the screen in more livid color than you’d see here at Spearmint Rhino in a week. Wolf director Martin Scorsese will also take the Arlington stage with DiCaprio to receive the Film Festival’s Cinema Vanguard Award. The Golden Globes folks named DiCaprio best actor of the year, and he, Scorsese, and the movie itself were nominated for Oscars last week.
The other night, watching the movie, I sat through nearly three hours of 569 (count ’em) f-bombs, nonstop nudity, sex (simulated, I presume, but who knows?), violence, gulping of mass quantities of Quaaludes and other mind-altering drugs, trashing of cars, sinking of a 170-foot mega-yacht once owned by Coco Chanel, rampant adultery, and gross fraud — usually at the top of everyone’s lungs.
No one had to make up this stuff. It’s all ripped from the pages of Jordan Belfort’s infamous memoir, The Wolf of Wall Street. It’s about how he and 1,000 of his enthusiastic stockbroker acolytes cheated investors out of millions in the 1990s using the time-honored pump-and-dump scam.
Here’s how it works: You pick a likely stock, put your minions busy cold-calling suckers, pushing the stock to skyscraper heights. Then you sell your shares off, reaping a rich harvest, letting the victims take a serious hit when you let the stock plummet to the basement.
This was all very illegal, of course, and played out in a whirlwind of hedonistic craziness that was the talk of Wall Street. The FBI and SEC were lurking, but it seemed to take them years to crack down.
In the movie, you can’t take your eyes off DiCaprio. In one scene he’s snorting cocaine through a straw off a hooker’s bare rump, and in the next he’s cheerleading his workers to even greater rip-offs, enriching themselves in the process. Meanwhile, the victims lost about $200 million, little mentioned in the movie, if at all.
Speaking of Wall Street, Belfort didn’t actually operate there. He should have called himself The Wolf of Long Island, but that’s not so catchy. Critics of the movie call it soft-core porn and scold that it glorifies all the anti-social, self-destructive behavior and only at the end does DiCaprio/Belfort get a comeuppance.
(Spoiler warning: In reality, Belfort went into rehab, wore a wire, ratted out his pals, served just 22 months in Club Fed, and still shows little intention of paying the promised $100 million to those he cheated. The feds, however, are showing signs of impatience.)
Belfort now lives in the L.A. area and is a (what else?) motivational speaker. In one of the film’s last scenes, you see the real Belfort introducing DiCaprio as a speaker. Crime pays?
THE BOOK: For those of you who still read books, the hottest read these days is Belfort’s memoir. It’s clever and witty, doesn’t stint on his bad-boy life, and I couldn’t put it down. (Well, except to immerse myself in the PBS costume soap opera from across the pond, Downton Abbey. How could creator/writer Julian Fellowes allow sweet Anna to be raped by that blackguard?)
Belfort’s cellmate, Tommy Chong, of Cheech and Chong comedy-act fame, urged Belfort to write a book, and he did. Chong was in prison for selling bongs on the Internet.
At book’s end, Belfort thanks his ex-wife, “the Duchess of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn,” as he calls her. “She’s still the best, despite the fact that she orders me around as if I were still married to her.” The ex-wife, Nadine, is played by the gorgeous Margot Robbie in the film.
DEATH IN GOLETA: A British TV team is due in Santa Barbara in early February to tape a documentary about the 2006 killings at the Goleta postal mail-handling facility. Producers would like to hear from anyone who knew the deranged killer, Jennifer San Marco.
San Marco, 44, a former worker at the regional mail-handling facility, killed a former Goleta neighbor on January 30, 2006, then got into the facility and shot six employees to death before turning the handgun on herself.
Erin Ross, of the U.K.-based TV production company Twofour Broadcast, wants to talk to people who knew San Marco or worked with her. You can reach Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.