Pi (1998)

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Darren Aronofsky, based on a story by Darren Aronofsky, Sean Gullette, and Eric Watson
Starring Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, Pamela Hart, Stephen Pearlman

My Advice: Matinee.

"When I was a little kid my mother told me not to stare into the sun. So one day when I was six, I did."  Thus we meet Max Cohen (Gullette), a math genius whose forays into trying to discover the unifying mathematical principal behind our world are another bright light he stares into and then must deal with the consequences.  To the aggressive rep of a Wall Street brokerage firm (Hart), he might have found the holy grail of stock predications.  To a cadre of Jewish kabbalists, he might have found the what they've been seeking for centuries.  To his mentor, Sol (and what does that word mean, boys and girls?), he may have found a path leading into madness and possibly death.

This is the intricate and fascinating puzzle known as Pi, the first film from the quickly rising director, Darren Aronofsky.  It's a well-toned blend of surrealism, science fiction, horror and spiritual mystery that would never have survived Hollywood's script-by-committee attitude.  Filmed in black and white (not because it was cheaper dammit, it was by design and more expensive) at times with a Sean-Cam (you'll understand when you see it) for a budget of $60K, it manages to do what many big studio films would not be able to comprehend: intrigue you and make you leave the theater thinking and discussing what you saw.  And yes, I'm talking about an intellectual prospect and not "Man, did you see the yambanas on that chick!?"  It also has a disturbing quality I've not witnessed since Jacob's Ladder.  That subtle, sneaks-up-on-you-and-makes-you-wonder-about-the-guy-next-to-you disturbing quality that is oh so effective.  Max's migraine attacks which start of with a twitching hand and wind up with bizarre hallucinations are just the tip of the paranoid iceberg.  Definitely a must see for those people who want something psychological that will involve better than Joel Silver can provide.  Please see it quickly in your local arthouse for it shan't be there long.  Typed as "Matinee" just to save a buck, but those arthouses need your money too, so ignore me and see an evening show, would you?

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