Little White LiesCalum Marsh has absorbed the madhouse saliva insanity of Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street and turned right around and injected almost the same kind of energy (on Scorsese’s part as well as DiCaprio/Belfort’s) into his review — the best way to respond to a film one really likes, no? Your review becomes the film and vice versa.

Marsh begins talking about the somewhat staid late-period films that acknowledged masters in their 70s or older have made.

“But there is another, less common variety of late period film, those which in their vitality and esprit defy the ageing of their maker — films whose history is either digested or divested, purged of its unwieldy weight, preferring instead to sprint lightly toward the new. The Wolf of Wall Street is one such film — perhaps even the such film: a nimble, impossibly jocund thing, it throbs and pulsates with life, eager to sop up the world’s generous excess. This is a film of extraordinary jejunity; its manner is raucous, sprightly, unhinged. It barrels through its 179-minute running time, spending scarcely a moment in repose, sprinting there and back without any need for breath or pause.

“The story is almost classically tragic — based on former millionaire Jordan Belfort’s memoirs of the same name, it’s yet another film about the corruption of the American Dream, playing out as if it were the Scarface of stockbroking — and yet the tone has been rendered unrelentingly comic, almost fantastic, making this an epic of the lightest touch. Martin Scorsese is 71 years old. Based on The Wolf of Wall Street, he might as well be 25. The late period has never seemed quite so young.

“Certainly Hugo didn’t suggest Scorsese had anything so vernal left in him — though it was of course very accomplished and deeply felt, the film was about as fusty and old-fashioned as they come. Hugo seemed in some ways like a gesture of deference to posterity, as if toward the end of his career he felt compelled to nail down his love letter to the movies for the sake of the historical record. And, with this respectful ode to cinema’s forebears out of the way — and, I think not insignificantly, with his long-awaited Academy Award for Best Director already safely tucked away — Scorsese has been duly liberated at last from the implied obligations of prestige, freeing him to lose himself in unbridled (and, in this case, apparently rather prodigal) personal expression.

“The result is something considerably closer, in both spirit and temperament, to his ‘minor efforts’ of the 1980s, in particular the manic pleasures of After Hours and especially The King of Comedy — two ostensibly frivolous films whose reputations suffered unfairly in comparison to more serious endeavours like Goodfellas and Raging Bull, a fate which may well befall Wolf in turn.

“Well, it seems that between After Hours, The King of Comedy and The Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese has proven himself as much a master of comedy as, say, crime drama or the mafia picture, and perhaps it’s time we begin to reevaluate this dimension of his style. While Wolf is indeed a sprawling, staggering work, grappling with contemporary anxieties and the modern condition with intelligence and maturity, the first quality for which it ought to be praised is its humour. Its excellence in other areas aside, this is plainly among the funniest films of the year — ribald, riotous, ridiculous.”