Isn’t it a pleasure to see Martin Scorsese igniting controversy again? The Wolf of Wall Street has inspired some lively debates over its morality, its depiction of women, its glorification of greed and corruption, and its unfettered vulgarity. It had almost seemed as though the director had either veered into safe territory with a family-friendly film like Hugo (over which the closest thing to controversy was Scorsese’s decision to make it in 3D) or had established himself as enough of a credible artist that his work would be met with only fawning enthusiasm, a result of earned respect that can sometimes move filmmakers beyond the reach of criticism.
His new film feels like old school Scorsese in a few ways. The divided response to it is reminiscent of movies like Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and The Last Temptation of Christ, the latter of which sparked religious protests and boycotts, no doubt the height of this former devout Catholic’s notoriety as a film director.
The comparison that’s being made most often is to Goodfellas, Scorsese’s 1990 gangster epic that is widely considered one of the greatest movies ever made. The temptation by viewers who consider themselves savvy is always to assume the connections between the two works are unintentional, but as Scorsese and writer Terence Winter have confirmed, the similarities were entirely deliberate.
So any consideration of their film and Scorsese’s previous work should be made with this in mind. It also makes the divergences between the two films the most crucial points to ponder. With that in mind, here are 4 similarities that The Wolf of Wall Street and Goodfellas share, and 4 important differences.
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