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Friday, April 4, 2014

271 of 1001 Movies: Pi (1998)

A bit late, but since Pi was released you've probably heard Darren Aronofsky's name mentioned. He was behind the creepy, Black Swan, and the recent huge release, Noah. He definitely doesn't tread lightly with the content of his films and exploring the depths of the mind. Actually, I haven't watched Noah but considering his past work where he usually gives us inner psychological weaving of the mind it should be interesting. Black Swan reminded me much of Pi though after I watched it, except a cleaner and more crisp account.

Summary: Maximillian  is despearate to find a pattern in the universe through a key number. He even has built a computer at his home that can understand all existence. Max doesn't seem to be aware of the danger he could be bringing on himself by persisting to be open and desperate to search for the meaning. A Hasidic religious group, and a Wall Street firm are now tracking him, and wanting to know how he has gotten knowledge of the number, and they are desperate to understand it for their own benefit.


Acting: The acting is good and it's very intense. Sean Gullette stars as Max. I think he does a good job at getting us into how the mind of the character works from his obsession with the number to his panic attacks and headaches caused by the knowledge of the number. Mark Margolis is Sol, who seems to be Max's confidant as he explores the existence of everything. He fits the vibe of the movie as well. There are many others in the movie, but the other memorable character is Lenny who is portrayed by Ben Shenkman. He is a guy in the Hasidic group who meets Max at a coffee shop and gains an interest in what he is doing. While the performances are good though I do have a problem with how stiff everyone seems to be. They are setting out to fit a tone and vibe, and an eerie situation that isn't very easy to relate to, or feel that the characters are real from.

Filming: The movie is shot in all grainy black and white. Now this works to set the mood, and without the movie would have just looked like a cheap, indie film that was just a bit less scary. The black and white brings out the terror and the sort of perspective the lead character is carrying. His perception of everything outside of that number seems a bit fuzzy, and that is how the movie feels. It's shot with lots of panicky up close shots, and jittery spook shots to amp up the thriller.

Plot: The plot is told from the perspective of the lead character who seems to be nearing an emotional break down. Some might not like all the mathematics though, because it does get really in depth, but for those who aren't aware might find some of the facts presented quite interesting that are told through the narrative. The problem is sometimes all the narrating does take away from the story. The character is just going on and on, and you feel like you might be sitting in math class again. Anyways, once you get toward the ending though the movie picks up a bit, and everything from the first hour seems to finally find it's place, and it isn't just going in circles anymore.

Before I close I want to say that Clint Mansell's soundtrack also helps a lot as well. It's very cool and it adds a lot to the vibe that the director is already fusing into his movie. If you're looking for an intense and intelligent thriller then this falls into that category. It's well done and memorable, but for some reason I felt disconnected the entire time. I never felt I knew the characters or felt any emotional ties to what happened to them.

Rating 7 of 10.


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