Apparently people have been flocking to see Martin Scorcese's new movie 'The Wolf of Wall Street' but there were only a few stragglers at the late night session I attended.

As far as I could tell no-one fell asleep during the film even though it was getting close to 11pm by the time the three-hour story of stimulant-fuelled excess exhausted itself.
But you would need some pretty strong tranquillisers to nod off during 'The Wolf of Wall Street' - Scorcese knows how to keep the audience awake.

And who isn't interested in lurid tales of drugs, sex and money accompanied by a classy soundtrack selected by Robbie Robertson of 'The Band' fame?

Plus it's a true story. The only thing that sounded wrong to me was the New Zealand accents in the final scene where the hero, Jordan Belfort, tries to gee up the audience at a sales seminar set in Auckland for dramatic effect.


Some people may think the excess has been exaggerated in the film but I believed that events depicted in the movie, or ones very much like them, did happen.

The reality of financial 'pump and dump' operations is usually just mundanely grubby, though. I had a flashback during 'The Wolf of Wall Street' to my dealings with the notorious Australian financial planning group, Saxby Bridge, that ran a hard-sell financial 'chop shop' until closed by regulators in 2001.

I recall one of the Saxby Bridge executives sent out a group email to all the journalists hounding him, featuring a pornographic picture and a caption along the lines of 'read my lips, I'm not going away'. His father was a body language expert...

However, as the guy who helped prosecute Belfort, Joel Cohen, writes in the New York Times, the film inevitably glamourises the scammers while ignoring those many thousands they ripped off.

The Wolf of Wall St trailer:

"The filmmakers have said that they didn't want to depict... victims because it would detract from their focus on the brutality of the wrongdoers," Cohen says, which he accepts as story-telling licence.

But Cohen does take issue with the appearance of the real Jordan Belfort in the movie's last scene, where the crook, now resurrected as a 'motivational speaker', introduces his fictional self.

"Some might think the movie's ending is a cute conceit: putting the artist and his muse together on a stage for a final scene. To his victims, it is a beyond an insult," Cohen says.
As a movie, however, 'The Sheep of Wall Street' would be a much harder sell.

Read more about Belford and the movie here:The real Wolf of Wall Street and the men who brought him down