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Pi (1998)

September 27, 2009

10/10 Screwheads

It might not be perfect, but since I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time watching and re-watching this movie more times than I care to recall, it’s hard not to appreciate it for the mini-masterpiece it is. This might be a kind of heady review, just giving you the heads up. Bear with me though, it’s worth it. At least I think so.

Pi is about math savant/human calculator Max Cohen, a guy who lives by himself, has horrendous social skills, rarely sees daylight, and studies numbers all day as he attempts to find the numerical patterns that exist in every aspect of the world we live in. His latest project has him popping a vein in his forehead  as he tries to discover the underlying pattern in the world stock market to the point where he can predict the gains and losses of shareholders around the world right down to the last decimal.

Then one day, his iMac 5000 prints out a string of 216 seemingly random numbers right before it crashes. He initially dismisses the numbers as a glitch, then realizes that they were exact predictions of the next day’s stock numbers. Suits from Wall Street catch on, so do a bizarro sect of religious zealots, they all start chasing down Max, and he goes completely nuts.

And that’s why I don’t trust math.

Sorry for the lengthy synopsis, but it’s one of the more original and inspired premises I’ve had the pleasure of breaking down to CliffsNotes size. So let’s start there, with the story.

Pi‘s story is pretty strange, but holy crap is it smart. But to really appreciate it, it probably helps to know that this is not your typical kind of thriller before you press PLAY. It doesn’t follow a normal plot structure, it doesn’t have clear-cut heroes and villains, and it’s not very accessible or forgiving to its audience. Pi is a character study of one man and his increasingly paranoid descent into the downward spiral of his mind, it’s a completely unnerving experience, and it will mess with you.

It’s not a flawless story, it’s also pretty hard to follow and might be a little too complex for its own good at times, but from a technical standpoint, yeah, its pretty much flawless.

The reason Pi gets a 10 is because it’s easily one of the most well-directed and painstakingly crafted movies I’ve ever seen in my life. The editing, the camerawork, the stark black and white contrast of the film – all flawless. It’s amazing how every little aspect of this movie was accounted for and how everything ties together, everything has a reason for being there. This is the movie nerd in me talking now, but nonetheless, beyond impressive.

The fact that this was also Darren Aronofsky’s first feature film that he directed, wrote, and more or less financed out of pocket only adds to my sense of awe. Today, Aronofsky is one of the best working directors out there, but this movie made it pretty clear back in ’98 that he wasn’t screwing around. Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler – check ’em all out if you haven’t already; they might make you want to blow your brains out, but they’re all phenomenal. He’s also signed up to direct the Robocop reboot that’s coming out in a couple years, and it doesn’t get more awesome than that.

The acting is all pretty solid, too. Nothing outstanding, but Sean Gullette does a good job convincing the audience that Max Cohen is not dealing all too well with his current circumstances.

Even though I love this movie now, the first time I saw this, I didn’t get it, went right over my head. It’s really fuckin’ dark, it’s pretty unsettling, and I wasn’t sure what it was actually about. Not saying you’ll have the same reaction, but you really have to listen hard and watch hard to get the full effect of this movie. Pi is not a movie to relax to, but for any of you out there looking for a truly challenging and rewarding movie to dive into, you have hit the mother load, baby.

Oh, and the story has nothing to do with the number pi itself. It’s a metaphor for the movie as a whole, and a brilliant one at that, but whatever, not gonna get into it because I’m gonna start rambling. And we all know how I get when I start to ramble.

Aiden, you drunk, you…

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2010 6:09 pm

    “The fact that this was also Darren Aronofsky’s first feature film that he directed, wrote, and more or less financed out of pocket only adds to my sense of awe.”

    Isn’t that amazing? When directors come this strong out of the gate, it’s always exciting to see what the rest of their career will look like. I’m going to revisit Pi with a friend of mine (who’s earning his PhD in Math) to see what eh thinks about it.

    Thanks for participating in the My Best Post Blog-a-Thon. Your link (and some nice words from me) will be posted on Friday. Please take some time to comment on some other people’s posts who’s participated.


  2. May 21, 2010 4:58 pm

    Not your typical 10/10 review…interesting nonetheless though.

  3. May 22, 2010 10:16 pm

    I’ve never heard about this one but wow, a 10 huh? I probably won’t rush to put this on Netflix but still it’s interesting to read about it… didn’t know about Aronofsky’s debut either, he certainly has done pretty well in Hollywood.

    • May 23, 2010 1:14 pm

      Yeah, he’s the real deal. Not gonna promise that this thing might be anywhere near a 10 for you or anyone else, just watched it so many freakin’ times over the years that I can’t help but love it. Worth checking out though. Crazy stuff.


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