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Scorsese Discusses Themes of ‘Wall Street’ and New Plans for DiCaprio’s ‘Sinatra’

Posted by , on April 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm 

Martin Scorsese is one of his generation’s most outspoken filmmakers — maybe among any living masters, now that I think about it — but his intentions for and goals with The Wolf of Wall Street have remained something of an enigma. Why he’d do the project? Not so much. It’s got Leonardo DiCaprio; there are themes of corruption and power, filtered through the lens of masculinity; he certainly likes his period pieces; and, good Lord, is there room for a scene in which someone inhales coke whilst a rock song blares over some tight editing. But I don’t know what his thought process is here, and Scorsese‘s the kind of fellow who, by this point, is very clear on that each time out.

And, for this, we have ET (via CHUD) to thank. They managed to snag some interview time with a personal favorite and, during this time, got him to spill the beans on Wall Street and his ever-waiting Sinatra — which, as you’ll soon learn, looks to be a reality. First and most important: Our last report was accurate when guessing that a shoot will, more than likely, get underway by the summer’s end. For that alone, I’m thrilled.

Now, what we can expect in terms of thematics:

“It’s such an exciting story. Even though it’s set in the early 90s, the attitude is there. The actions are the same. Our values are the same. It’s not like we had solid values until 1998 – the issue is that we were founded on certain values, and tried to maintain them. The film has more to do more with human nature and not guiding or inhibiting some people when nature gets away with them. As if to say, ‘Hold it, this is morally wrong because look at all these people suffering!’ It’s a riotous story because of the humor and the madness and how these characters just run wild. You have to remember what the real drug is: money. [laughs] Money’s good, it’s just that thing of what you do once you have it all?”

“Riotous” is not a word I’ve conjured upon reading descriptions of Jordan Belfort‘s source memoir — he went to jail, you know — though I can basically grasp how humor comes in, when spun as described. (And, by this point, I kind of trust him to do anything.) I’m even reminded of Casino, in a weird way; that will probably end up being the darker film, when all’s filmed and done, but the decision to look back with this certain hindsight on a so-corrupt-its-funny tale compliments it rather nicely.

Now, Sinatra. Work’s still peddling along on that one; lately, an unnamed writer’s just caught Scorsese‘s attention, though they “have to get a hold of [a] story” that, right now, is “too unwieldy.”

This is where it gets more intriguing. Here’s where the filmmaker went, in terms of tackling this story:

“I’d love to tell the whole story, but the idea of art is to figure out where to start because we can’t tell his whole life story. If we told the whole story of Sinatra, it would be 15 hours – then you’ve got something like a miniseries, along the lines of Boardwalk Empire.”

(I’m reminded of those who criticized The Aviator for not chronicling Howard Hughes‘ whole life; after all, that film started while Hell’s Angels was in production, and ended with the only flight of his passion project, The Hercules, on November 2nd, 1947, nearly 30 years before he died. Sinatra‘s life didn’t end in the same crazy fashion — no locking himself in a Las Vegas hotel room — but it’s definitely a harder one to just “snapshot.”)

This, naturally, segued things toward HBO; he’s fond of the company “because as long as you stay reasonably on budget, you have freedom which is very difficult to find in the cinematic marketplace.” That would be, what, six hours of new material from Scorsese in one package? I wouldn’t mind him taking a long detour into TV, if that were the case.

Somewhat surprisingly, DiCaprio might not be in on all the fun. “Maybe the person who plays him isn’t important. Maybe it’s distracting to have a star in that role,” he explained. (Sorry, the Aviator comparison writes itself.) I don’t know if Scorsese will actually leave him behind for this outing — he was absent from Hugo simply because there wasn’t room — but, no matter what, he can’t sing. Sinatra himself needs to be heard on the soundtrack since, as was stated back in November, “you wouldn’t accept” someone else lending their own pipes to a classic tune. (Watch this video interview for some greater clarity and irrefutable arguments.)

So… while we haven’t gone very far with Sinatra in the past few months, Scorsese sounds fully intent on making it happen; I think we’re all pulling for him. Oh, and on the topic of 3D: It seems as though he’s continuing to calm down with his post-Hugo fervor for the format, citing “the flexibility of the camera and the cost” as two big stopgaps capable of preventing ’40s attire from popping off the screen. Expect those plans to get nixed if things go forward with HBO; otherwise, they just need someone big writing the checks and the proper artistic reasoning.

What do you think of Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street ambitions? Could Sinatra work as a two-hour feature?


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