With my two most recent cinematic viewings I’ve been taken to a contemporary cinematic world way beyond my experience – to the wildest parties on the planet! Me – even in my pomp I was never much of a party-goer. I don’t think I’ve been to one for decades. I’ve loved the after events of the weddings of my stunning niece and several handsome nephews. Here it’s mainly family – I can relax. One of the best post-nuptials I’ve been to is when a beautiful teaching colleague married her debonair policeman. That night I laughed till I cried. I still remember the round table discussion about Melbourne’s Sexpo. When coppers let the hair down, much fun is to be had. The same could be said for nurses. My Darling Loving Partner is a nurse and she’s taken me to some rip-snorters of work dos. But it’s dinner gatherings – at restaurants or in homes – that I look forward to the most. There was the one following my daughter marrying my favourite son-in-law on the edge of the wilderness that stands out. There are the glorious meals at Stefan and Denise’s that are really the bee’s knees, the wonderful Christmas bash that Phil and Julie put on a few weeks ago, any event with Craig and Laurel at their wonderful Aberdeen abode and then there are the barbecues. Whether they’re here at No1, or next door at No2 Riverside Drive; or whether they are under Roland to celebrate Ilsa’s endless 25th birthdays, they are always such a joy to me.
But events where the music is loud, the guests foreign to me and the alcohol flowing endlessly so all are legless after an hour or so – yuk! If they are where people delight in taking their clothes off – yuk, yuk!! If there are white powdered substances in abundance – yuk, yuk, yuk!!! But if I can be a voyeur at these – then that’s a different matter. Cinema makes this possible, with these two movies rejoicing in that.
Recently the duo of parties at the Gatsby mansion, superbly choreographed by Baz Lurhmann, were the benchmark, a treat in excess to watch – but now are ultimately lame compared to what Scorsese and Sorrentino have conjured up.
Boy, can those Italians party, ‘bunga bunga.’ As ‘The Great Beauty’ revved up from a start of striking vignettes to Jep’s party getting under way accompanied by the pounding beat of thumpa thumpa music, I was enthralled. These weren’t only young bucks and belles out for a high old time on the terraces of the host’s apartment within spitting distance of the Coliseum. His party-goers were all shapes and ages, as well as prominently featuring his dwarf editor, a miniature doppelganger of ‘Ab Fab’s’ Patsy. In their wild dancing all pushed their bodies and faces to the limit. It was toe-tappingly fantastic. With a rake’s grin and dangling fag, Jeb can party with the best of them and his sixty-fifth was going to be no exception. And what a face this guy (actor Toni Servillo) possesses; what an exquisite vehicle in his visage he has for expressing all the emotions known to humankind! Surely it’s one of the best in filmdom and to the best of my knowledge, it was the first time I’ve encountered it. In this role Servillo is simply magnificent. Many would argue, though, that the real star of the show is Rome itself. Never has the Eternal City looked so uniquely burnished with such a warm glow as when we tour known and secret places, following an array of characters as the film’s coterie slip giddily into Berlusconian decadence. The putrid ripeness of the Catholic Church casts a heavy stench over all the proceedings as the elite of Roman society let off steam before their collective number comes up as punishment for decades of unsustainable excess. They know the ‘dolce vita’ will soon be dead, along with many of their own number. The cinematography of this beast of a film is extraordinary – some of its images will long linger – the disappearing giraffe; the man who exhibits his self portraits (one for each day of his fifty odd years); the flamingoes coming to rest in their migration only to be blown away by the breath of a centenarian nun; the nude performer who entertains by stunning herself against stone wall; the swirling art work of a child prodigy artist; the set piece about the cosmetician and his scything injection – I could go on. It was a cornucopia for the senses, a Baroquian entree before the Inferno. Surely this must be the hot favourite for Best Foreign at the upcoming Oscars!
But even the full-on hoedowns portrayed in ‘The Great Beauty’ pall in comparison with the orgies orchestrated by ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ himself, Jordan Belfort, as gleefully played by Leonardo Di Caprio. He throws all the seven deadly sins at the wall, as well as dwarfs at targets, for the sleazy employees of his dodgy, greedy finance company/hedge fund, designed purely to rip off gullible punters in the run up to the GFC. Like most of its other porcine perpetrators, he got off virtually scot-free to re-invent himself into his present day reincarnation as a get rich quick spruiker – again for all those gullible punters out there. Compared to this portrayal of Belfort, Jeb is an angel. Jordan is the devil that leads all into Hades.
This movie must be one of the high-points of Scorsese’s career. There is little violence, a nauseating characteristic of some of his other lauded offerings – instead the auteur concentrates on drug taking, sex, nudity and wild abandon. Matthew McConaughey. is stellar as the mentor who prods Belfort into his evil and excessive ways – it is surely one of the best turns in a career that has now blossomed anew. Aussie soap starlet Margot Robbie leaves no part of anatomy covered in her turn as the finacier’s second missus, but displays actorly chops as well. In places this movie was guffaw-inducingly hilarious – the lasting example being when our ‘hero’ has to negotiate a few steps whilst out of his tiny cotton picking mind on some pills well past their use-by date – its up there with ‘The Hangover’s’ tiger in the bathroom for recent comedic insanity. The audience in attendance at my screening clapped and stomped their feet at the conclusion of this excessive kaleidoscope in joyous appreciation.
Both movies demand a staunch bladder with the length of their running time – but in the end I still wanted more, the bladder could wait. Of course Blind Freddie could see that Sorrentino was taking his cues from Fellini and with Scorsese? It is probably Luhrmann. I’d wager he’s not so subtly telling him, ‘Top this if you can, mate.’ Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Aussie wunderkind took up the challenge and tackled some subject matter that involved really, really excessive partying too – now I’d pay to see that!!!
‘The Great Beauty’ official site = http://www.palacefilms.com.au/thegreatbeauty/
‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ official site = http://www.thewolfofwallstreet.com/index_splash.php