Pink Fire Pointer Pi Paroxysm ~ an Aronofsky assimilation..

Pi Paroxysm ~ an Aronofsky assimilation..

Pi (1998)         3.5  /  5
[your rating for the movie]
  I am most tempted to rate this film 3.14 / 5 ..  3.14 can be considered close to 3.5, can it not? However, the film isn't that bad. I cannot in my good conscience, skew my rating meter for a number-play with the title. I am most tempted though! :) Pi, notably, has nothing to do with the almighty Pi. That numerical constant which either bugged or baited our minds when we first learnt about dividing the circumference and diameter of a circle, exists as just a title. It's a novelty. So, let's get over it.

Darren-right; Sean(Max)-left; Matthew-with cam.
    Made by Darren Aronofsky, with  most of his friends and family supporting this, his first feature film endeavor, it does reek of an amateur indie movie. It isn't bad, per se, as such movies are the cornerstone and fountain of original talent and creativity in the movie industry. Yet, the problems I find in the movie have nothing to do with the budget or expensive resources. We'll get to them in a minute.The story is simple. Max (Sean Guilette) is an obsessed Math whiz, who also seems to tune and integrate computer circuitry on his own, and is working to create a model for the stock market. He has a mentor and a sounding-board in Sol (Mark Margolis), who was once such an obsessed Math whiz himself. He now passes his time playing Go, feeding his fish, and dishing philosophy and unsolicited advice to Max whenever he visits.

  All is well as much as it can be in this cloistered and cluttered world of Max. We notice that he suffers from some form of mental illness and related migraines, at regular intervals. He is currently on medication for it and has tried every possible alternative in the past, from grass to needles. One day, his calculation using a weird setup of computers (more for visual imagery than utilitarian, I suppose) spits out a set of numbers 216 digits long. I know what you're thinking - no, it isn't any part of the infinite decimal sequence of the Pi constant. Infact, there's no Pi involved in any of his calculations.

Max making some spiral(golden?) on stock firm listing (bemused!)
  He does do a lot of doodles that are supposed to come across as the brilliant rough work of a genius. Maybe it works for the layman. I found many laughable. Somehow, his work starts to involve golden spirals, golden ratios (look them up if you aren't aware), and he has some interested parties interested in his theories and results. There is a Jewish cult who believe the name of God is 216 digits and hence the numerical display on his computers may be that name!

  Then there is a stock broking firm who wants to invest in his work as he seems to have correctly predicted certain trends. Inevitably, he is caught between these two and most oppressively, his own mind. This conflict and the resolution, which seems weird but in line with the story, make up the rest.

  The image on the left conveys the kind of texture that envelops every frame of the film (incidentally has a spiral on it, which I thought went well with the illustration). So the grainy black and white frames in high contrast shots, make you rub your eyes aplenty. The impression Darren wanted to convey was to see through the mad genius' mind, which I felt was a bit overdone. The cinematographer, Matthew Libatique, has made a career in the tinsel town on the strength of this film as much as Darren.

  The primary reason I intended to review this movie now is due to the glowing tributes I find aplenty on the web concerning the math and the genii of the movie. Darren is simply using the math and it's genius as a blank canvas to portray the mind's irrationality and obsession - which seem to be his favorite theme. Taking a look at his brief career, all his movies are punctuated with dramatic dark protagonists, culminating in Natalie Portman winning the Oscar for 'Black Swan'. This movie launched him and was awarded the best in Sundance film fest.

  What the movie may succeed in giving us though, is the feel for Max's dark world. His visions and delusions are aplenty. It's further fueled when a rabbi from the cult passes on his number theories from the Torah (illustrated well in the diagrams above and to the left). The stock firm gives him a classified chip which would provide his computing system some electronic steroids. He ingests the illusions of grandeur and attempting to find all pattern in the universe with his 216 random digits, that 'somehow' appear from his calculations on the computer.

   This movie is about paranoia, delusions, metal instability, and irrationality (ironic, considering Math is a rational endeavor.. or is it?). I would love to see Darren's take on Dr. Nash of the famous, 'A Beautiful Mind'. It is a strange thing that historically, mathematicians seem more prone than most physicists, scientists or inventors/engineers to have a splintered mind or a delusional tendency.Perhaps it's a pursuit that is divorced from the world of the outside to that of the inside. The more 'pure' a mathematician's work is, the more he dwells within his mind's framework and constructs. Maybe that is it's greatest asset and liability. As the Joker would love to harp,"All it takes, is a little..  Push!".

      3.5 is a neutral verdict. If you wish to have a challenging experience of diving into the mind of an obsessed whiz-kid, go for it. Do not though, for it's science or math. You may at best get numerology. Good for Darren - it was bought for a million by the Artisan. Good work for a first feature length psycho-thriller.