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Anish Mitra '10: Top three movies to live your life by

Movies are amazing because we get to live vicariously as some of the most evil, kind, adventurous, intelligent and/or entertaining characters of all time. Through their trials and tribulations on screen, we can learn from their mistakes and successes alike and apply those lessons to our own lives without actually taking the same risks or working as hard.

I watch movies with the intention of learning powerful life lessons that I can use to potentially achieve success, avoid trouble and maximize the quality of my life.  Thus, I would like to share with all of you three movies that will provide the tools and insight necessary to succeed in this often difficult world.

Number three is Mary Harron's "American Psycho" (2000).  Christian Bale stars as Patrick Bateman, a 27-year-old vice president at a reputable investment bank in New York City. Infatuated with personal care, Bateman shows excessive attention to detail with regards to his skincare, suits, furniture, musical tastes and even his business cards. 

On the side, Bateman is a crazed serial killer and cannot control his urges to kill women after fornicating with them. In a truly ironic fashion, the entirely self-obsessed Bateman ultimately realizes that he is not unique at all; instead, he is continually surrounded by equally narcissistic self-promoters and fails to stand out, despite his lethal extracurricular activities. While the professional side of Bateman's life is truly admirable, I have learned to keep a sense of humor and maintain an interest in creating value outside of the workplace. If you don't, you might go insane.

Number two is Martin Scorcese's "Goodfellas" (1990). Scorcese, one of the greatest directors of all time, truly conveys four key concepts in this award-winning movie: greed, lust, loyalty and betrayal.  With an all star cast including Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, this movie takes us on an emotional and informative journey through the lifestyles of the New York mafia. 

As a middle-class New Yorker myself, I identify strongly with Henry's hungriness. As a teen, Henry wanted nothing more than to become something big.  As he developed a strong "working relationship" with his fellow gangsters, it seemed as if a life of luxury and power was easily within reach.  After performing one the biggest heists of all time, the trio had finally achieved their version of the American dream — or so they thought. Ironically, their biggest success ruined the lives of all involved. On a slippery slope of betrayal and greed, the three find themselves ruined at the end, with their wealth and power gone.

Always stay hungry, always work hard, and always remain ambitious. Align yourselves with like-minded individuals and work in teams in order to achieve your goals.  However, never be too naive; in shaky situations, even the most trusted of friends can become snakes.  Lastly, never be short-sighted.  While rewards for a certain project, task, etc., may seem larger than life, the long-term costs might overwhelmingly outweigh the short-term benefits.

The last two movies had characters with all the elements of "true ballers."  They were hungry for success, ruthless in their pursuits and possibly Republican (Patrick Bateman jokes about his views on welfare and Liotta's crew certainly evaded plenty of taxes). Their morally questionable motives, however, contributed to their demise.

This is why the top movie to live your life by is John Dahl's "Rounders" (1998). Starring Matt Damon as Mike McDermott and Edward Norton as Lester "Worm" Murphy, this movie takes us through the ups and downs of the life of a high stakes poker player.

The character of Mike McDermott has always resonated with me. A man from simple means, he uses his street smarts and quick thinking ability to get ahead by making thousands of dollars playing no limit Texas Hold 'Em on the side.

His life changes when his friend Worm gets out of prison. As a loyal buddy, Mike returns to his gambling lifestyle in order to help Worm pay off a huge debt that was incurred before his imprisonment. Ultimately, through legitimate means, hard work, persistence and a little bit of luck, Mike McDermott comes out alive, makes a lot of money and ends up pursuing his love for poker full time.

Instead of remaining complacent and adopting the views of his peers or dumping his responsibilities on his friend, McDermott hangs tough and ultimately finds success, all without committing any serious moral offenses.  For this, he is truly admirable, and those who follow his example cannot go wrong.

American Psycho, Goodfellas, and Rounders, while showcasing diverse characters, all convey that aggressive actions can be used to change your society for the better or worse.  I have taken the best qualities of all three of the movies' protagonists and I suggest you do the same.

Anish Mitra '10 uses an herb-mint facial mask.



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