The Wolf of Wall Street (R, 179 minutes, Paramount): Martin Scorseses big, bravura, maddeningly uneven indictment of the extreme financial depredations that characterized the 1990s earned five Oscar nominations, if no awards. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a real-life swindler and penny-stock con man who made more than $100 million off of unwitting investors. As The Wolf of Wall Street makes clear from its first aggressive, whipsawing moments, Belfort is the ultimate empty vessel, a man who can never get enough of anything, whether its sex or drugs or validation from the audience he addresses by way of near-constant narration, occasionally breaking the fourth wall for a contemptuous tutorial in Darwinian finance. Belfort is such a thoroughly loathsome character that it makes The Wolf of Wall Street difficult to process as art, much less entertainment. Contains sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and profanity throughout, and some violence.
The Great Beauty (unrated, 142 minutes, in Italian with subtitles, The Criterion Collection): The Oscar winner for best foreign language film, about a a one-hit-wonder novelist (played by Toni Servillo) reflecting on his life at age 65, is more ravishingly Felliniesque than many of Federico Fellinis own movies. Director Paolo Sorrentino doesnt simply mimic the masters style and preoccupations, which anyone could do, but conjures the kind of emotions that made La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2 and others endure. He collects scenes of superficial extravagance and eccentricity, then finds the deeper yearnings they conceal. Contains nudity, sexual content, strong language and drug themes.
Television series: Veep: Second Season (HBO), Californication: Sixth Season (Showtime), Little House on the Prairie: Season One (deluxe remastered edition includes pilot, Lionsgate), Continuum: Season Two, Heres Lucy: The Complete Series (1968-74), Mapp & Lucia: The Complete Collection (1985-1986, British comedy on PBS, Acorn Media), Dragons: Defenders of Berk Part 1, William & Mary: The Complete Collection (six-disc set), Tickety Toc: Spring Chicks Time (Nick Jr.).