Two years ago I started writing movie reviews for Epinions, not because I thought I was a wise person or that I had any unique outlook to the movie scene. I wrote simply because I loved movies, have always loved movies and obviously always will.
Had I crossed paths with PI two years ago, I doubt I would have watched it. Not my kind of movie at all. A year later, I might have started watching it, but never finished it, still too bizarre for me. Now I approach movies differently, because of Epinions.
PI is not a movie to be enjoyed for snappy dialogue, nor for the stunning scenery. It has a brilliantly evasive soundtrack, which was all but lost to me, I was so taken with the visual quality of the film. PI may be as close to insanity as I ever wish to get.
This is a remarkable film study. Darren Aronofsky, director and co-writer takes his independent film into territories that aren't as shattering as Requiem For A Dream (his later work) but are mind altering just the same. Starkly filmed in black in white, there are often times you cannot ascertain what you are even looking at, the film is so gritty and shadowed. Appearing almost like it was filmed in a basement with an old Super 8 MM camera, this adds rather than distracts from the message.
The story is centered around Maximillian Cohen (Sean Gullette, also co-writer), an obsessed and brilliant mathematician, who is searching for the answer' to PI. His mentor, Sol Robenson (Mark Margolis) had been oh so close, but suffered a stroke brought on by his diligent search for the elusive PI.
There are many outside sources tracking Cohen's progress, some low-life hackers that want to break the bank on Wall Street, and an obscure sect of Kabbalist rabbis, longing to find the answer to the Torah, the true name of God, which is defined by numbers. All believe that Cohen is their savant.
To try to present this story in written word is almost as impossible as tracking PI to it's ultimate sempiternity, it simply can't be done. In my prior movie life, I enjoyed the story, seldom looking for continuity, character study, scene definition, dialogue, sound, etc. I was simply watching a pretty girl in a pretty dress, not wondering where she came from or how it managed to arrive in front of me.
PI redefines cinematography. It is not a pretty movie. It is harsh yet absorbing. Aronofsky is almost genius in his subtle use of sound and coloration. Having watched Requiem before watching this movie, I was again taken, in fact searched out, Aronofsky's unique sound inserts. Who would have assumed that cigarette smoke could have such a sound? His innate brilliance with film and character study border on insanity.
This is not a movie the casual moviegoer would find intriguing. The often washed out scenery, smeared and gritty film work, jerking camera angles, stuttering speech patterns, harsh abrasive sound effects and sudden scene changes would turn away all but those that are really in love with the art of film. As well, it really should be watched more than once to absorb all the nuances that are scattered throughout.
This is definitely low budget, but high performance, film making. Sean Guellette was startling in his part. I would have loved to hear the thoughts really going through his head during some of the shooting. Frankly, I think Aronofsky is a complete genius or totally insane. Incredible.
Baconwise, these all fried up at a #1 or #2 (Darn that Novocaine)
***1/2 out of **** Darren Aronofsky's highly experimental first feature "Pi" is either a work of complex art or a maddeningly pretentious psychological thriller. This film may divide viewers in terms of how they see it, but there is no doubt talent to be seen in Aronofsky's little film. He deserves some credit almost automatically for filming the thing on such a low budget, and yet managing to end up with something so satisfying. Aronofsky is a twisted … more
Max Cohen is a loner by nature, a mathematical genius who is seeking to find numerical patterns everywhere. His life is consumed by patterns, and his lives his life reciting his assumptions and their evidence. Assumptions: 1. Mathematics is the language of nature 2. Everything around is can be represented and understood by numbers 3. If you graph the numbers of any system, patterns emerge Evidence: 1. The cycling of disease epidemics 2. The wax and wan of caribou … more
Starring Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, Pamela Hart Directed by Darren Aronofsky Writers: Darren Aronofsky, Sean Gullette 1998
Product Description A brilliant mathematician teeters on the brink of insanity as he searches for an elusive numerical code in this critically acclaimed schizophrenic thriller. Special features: commentary by director darren aronofsky and actor sean gullette deleted scenes interactive menus production notes and much more. Studio: Lions Gate Home Ent. Release Date: 02/18/2003 Starring: Sean Gullette Ben Shenkman Run time: 85 minutes Rating: R Director: Darren Aronofsky