SBIFF: Double Dose – Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio share the stage at SBIFF

Leonardo DiCaprio meets fans on the red carpet before receiving the SBIFF award.
Leonardo DiCaprio meets fans on the red carpet before receiving the SBIFF award.

Look what happens when you wait.

When Leonardo DiCaprio bowed out of his own American Riviera Award at the SBIFF last year fans were disappointed. When, they wondered, would Mr. DiCaprio return? Well, as it turns out, he’s back this year and he brought Martin Scorsese with him for an evening’s worth of conversation moderated by Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy. The focus was film and the history of the two men, who increase their symbiotic relationship with each movie they work on together. (This time Mr. DiCaprio’s award is the “Cinema Vanguard” award.)

With Robert DeNiro, Mr. Scorsese made eight films, some of which are considered classics: “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” and “Good Fellas.” And with Mr. DiCaprio, who was introduced to the director by Mr. De Niro, a similar relationship has ensued over five films: “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator,” “The Departed,” “Shutter Island” and now “The Wolf of Wall Street.” This latest film earned Mr. DiCaprio an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and Mr. Scorsese for Best Director, along with nominations for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (for Jonah Hill, who helped present the award to the two.)

But while Robert DeNiro was a collaborator around the same age as Mr. Scorsese, Mr. DiCaprio, just nine months shy of 40, can at times seems like a student to Mr. Scorsese’s wise sage (albeit a sage who talks very fast and very much in depth and length).

As Mr. DiCaprio explained, however, he was one of the main forces pushing to get “Wolf” made, a journey that took six years as an actor and producer. The three other producers of “Wolf,” Joey McFarland, Riza Aziz, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, all walked the red carpet on Thursday evening. (Mr. Scorsese also claims a producing credit on the film.)

Based on the debauched life of corrupt stockbroker Jordan Belfort, the film finds Mr. Scorsese revisiting the hyperkinetic style of films like “Goodfellas” and “Casino.” It seems crime brings out the best in the director. And for Mr. DiCaprio, this is one of his best roles, where he uses all his charm to sell audiences a morally wretched character.

Mr. DiCaprio revealed in an interview earlier this week, in New York for Variety, that he had made it one of his goals early in his career to work in a Scorsese film. With his box office clout following “Titanic,” he pursued Mr. Scorsese, he said in the interview. “I know the trust level has built over the years. (Scorsese) has taught me not only about being a better actor, but the history of cinema and the importance of cinema as an art form.”

With a strong and crowded Oscar season, “Wolf,” despite terrific box office and reviews after opening on Christmas Day, has also started to receive backlash. In particular, some critics complain the film doesn’t show the victims of Mr. Belfort’s crimes. Mr. DiCaprio has defended the movie at length:

“There have been some reactions to why we don’t cut away to the victims and show the ramifications of their actions,” Mr. DiCaprio said. “And (Scorsese) said, ‘Look, I’m not here to make a didactic movie. I want to make a film that is reflective of who these people are.’ He has his own moral compass and feeling about who these people are, he doesn’t agree with the activity obviously, and it’s a cautionary tale.”

This last weekend, producer Joey McFarland spoke at the SBIFF Producers Panel about working with the two.

“When you encourage these guys (Scorsese and DiCaprio) to push the envelope and really go for it and create freedom, they take you at your word,” he said.

It turns out that Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio make a very good acting duo, so much so that the two will team up again on a film about the falsely accused Atlanta Olympics bomber Richard Jewell. No director has been announced yet. As for Mr. Scorsese, his next announced project is “Silence” an adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s “Silence,” about two Jesuit priests trying to spread Christianity in 17th century Japan. Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield are set to star.

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