The Criterion Collection
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Enormously wealthy and emotionally remote investment banker Nicholas Van Orton (Traffic’s Michael Douglas) receives a strange gift from his ne’er-do-well younger brother (Milk’s Sean Penn) on his forty-eighth birthday: a voucher for a game that, if he agrees to play it, will change his life. Thus begins a trip down a rabbit hole that is puzzling, terrifying, and exhilarating for Nicholas and viewer alike. This multilayered, noirish descent into one man’s personal hell is also a surreal, metacinematic journey that, two years after the phenomenon Se7en, further demonstrated that director David Fincher was one of Hollywood’s true contemporary visionaries.
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As he promptly walks out of a smoky cemetery (something nearby was burning), located in an unknown shanty town in Mexico. What followed was the most thought-provoking scene in the movie. Despite being rich, successful, handsome, he comes to realizes that he’s been betrayed. More importantly, he’s sitting in front of a small dirty shop, bungalow, who knows?? However, one thing is for certain, he’s lost, bleeding, penniless, filthy, grubby, and for a vulnerable moment, he begins to cry. At this point, I could only imagined that he thought, “I lived my entire life with such precision, how could I be in this predicament??
After briefly licking his wounds, noticeably, Douglas facial expression does a 180. His entire attitude changed from – “Woe is me” to “Let’s get to stepping.” At this very moment, I thought, thank GOD for the spirit of determination and perseverance. Thereafter, he promptly stood up, and started walking in hopes of finding a way out, which he did. He indeed became the hero in his own life. Thus, I determined that however long it takes a person to lick their wounds (i.e. one minute, one month, five years, etc.), after an unfortunate and/or unpleasant experience, is considered a defining moment. Needless to say, I can’t truthfully say that I’ve relished every single movie that Michael Douglas has starred in, but for those who need to witness how to properly lick your wounds, move forward, and become the hero that you’ve been waiting for, then watch this consummate, exemplary, and season actor show you how it’s done.