Patterns exist everywhere: in nature, in science, in religion, in business. Max Cohen (played hauntingly by Sean Gullette) is a mathematician searching for these patterns in everything. Yet, he's not the only one, and everyone from Wall Street investors, looking to break the market, to Hasidic Jews, searching for the 216-digit number that reveals the true name of God, are trying to get their hands on Max. This dark, low-budget film was shot in black and white by director Darren Aronofsky. With eerie music, voice-overs, and overt symbolism enhancing the somber mood, Aronofsky has created a disturbing look at the world. Max is deeply paranoid, holed up in his apartment with his computer Euclid, obsessively studying chaos theory. Blinding headaches and hallucinogenic visions only feed his paranoia as he attempts to remain aloof from the world, venturing out only to meet his mentor, Sol Robeson (Mark Margolis), who for some mysterious reason feels Max should take a break from his research. This movie is complex--occasionally too complex--but the psychological drama and the loose sci-fi elements make this a worthwhile, albeit consuming, watch. Pi won the Director's Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. --Jenny Brown
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Max is a genius looking for the answers, he is trying to find the pattern in the visibly chaotic universe.
He sees math everywhere: in the way creamer dissolves in his coffee, in the spiral movements of the smoke, in the shape of the seashells.
Well, virtually everywhere. But the main question for Max is a stock market pattern.
"Eurica" it is almost at the tip of his tong, but he can not quiet catch it. And it drives him nuts.
The emotional intensity is so strong, that he needs to medicate himself to do both - bring relief and continue working.
Grainy black and white filming adds to the emotional edge extensively. Very disturbing, but you just can not stop watching.
Max has a friend - an old mathematician - who also was looking for the same answer, but gave up (there is no pattern, it is just chaos).
But Max does not agree, he feels his friend just does not have enough courage to find the truth.
The Archimedes wife joke was hilarious by the way, it was worth watching this movie just because of that sharp sense of humor.
Max is approached (stalked) by the stock market company who wants his code
and by the Jewish religious community, who want him to decode Torah.
Both represent the evil, that want to use the truth not in the name of grater good.
Max finds the answer and the truth starts changing him.
Unusual things happen.
His old friend also finds the answer and the truth has killed him.
The truth is neither something humankind is ready for nor something it deserves.
So Max lets it go. For the first time he is happy.
The film is also possessed of a predilection for the number 216, which has absolutely no connection to Pi, nor Phi. It does appear to be of interest to the Kabbalists, and that is the secondary plot of the film. The Kabbalists want our man for the number 216 and what it represents to them and the Wall Streeters want our hero for his stockpicking equation based on Fibonacci numbers graphing, all the while battling genius and self destruction.
It makes just enough sense to stay tuned, it doesn't get so far out the audience is lost completely, and of course we have to see whether the protagonist is able to stay off the ledge through the pills, manhunts, mental episodes, flashes of reality, nosebleeds and bouts of sanity.
It may be one of those that requires watching at least twice to get anything from, but I liked it the first time.
As a film concerned with the explanations of life's inner sanctums, its reason for existing, and man's role within its borders, "Pi" unravels nebulous borders, conveying within its galley the allegories, mystic bridges, and religious underpinnings which score our senses, while successfully opening our eyes to unrealized passions. Within these un-secured parallels the questions still unanswered, yet closer to our minds, in a film considered a genius epic, undertaken within a maelstrom of mistrust and self-loathing analysis.
Take for example, the duality expressed by our protagonist's immense desire for security and secrecy i.e. a multitude of door locks and his desire for complete academic openness, as indicators of man's classical battle between trust and distrust. Additionally, the total disregard of the venerable 216 as the true name of deity, while concerning himself with its focus on the idolatry nature of "Pi" reflects the demonic duality with angelic forces, as foretold in the Holy Bible.
Upon viewing, one can plainly see the self-destruction of his computers as an attempt to free contemporary society from the rigors similarly dealt with in the Garden of Eden through serpents and rounded fruits, while the numbers bandied about through stock market manipulations clearly relates those presently living with post- Apocalyptic dissipation of our current days' diminishing totals. How clear it becomes to liken his being told "Take a bath or there will be only chaos, never order" to the societal cleansing required to re-structure contemporary life in a self-effacing manner.
Only with a scrutinized vision can one interpret the film's depth and care for analysis and retribution toward self. When performing his mind cleansing lobotomy he relinquishes his hold on the structure and knowledge afforded to a select few while developing the ability to smile when speaking to a child. Are we not being castigated for viewing the world around us through our cerebral acuities while ignoring the passions of our heart? I think that the oft repeated visual of a removed brain being repeatedly stabbed and poked in rapid order affirms that query. The making of a classic film, told through symbolism and stretching the peripherals of our own boundaries can be clearly identified upon its viewing.
The use of spiral to signify the epiphany of life and its continuing struggles help define the nature of this film as it meanders through Freud's cabal of Id, Super Ego, and the manipulative and societal securing Ego to both explain the intellectual struggles and shifting compasses of moral turpitudes with which we approach our lives. It is with these identifiable and subliminal messages of text and vision upon which this film operates. Its beauty, horror, and self-effacing mockery perhaps defines us and our search for placement in this and other possible universes perhaps more clearly than any other current film. The progress established through its parables and the questions raised through its visions are why "Pi" should be considered a select film, best reserved for those seeking honesty and the hidden structure of the smallest pebble on Earth, while still bowing before the graces from beyond.
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