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Pi (1998).

March 14, 2008

The Scoop:
Today is March 14 (3/14), which the math geeks among us celebrate as Pi Day. Hence, today’s post.

Rarely has intellectual genius been so compellingly displayed on film as in “Pi.” This edgy, hyperkinetic blast from the underground is like a splash of cold water in the face. It is also a tour de force debut for writer/director Darren Aronofsky.

Max Cohen (played by cowriter Sean Gullette) in a reclusive, unbalanced mathematical genius in New York obsessed with discovering the underlying numerical patterns of the stock market. Because these patterns can hold the secret to predicting the behavior of the financial markets, a group of corporate heavies is after his secrets, willing to use force if necessary. Also on his trail is a radical Jewish sect that wants him to uncover the numerology of the Kabbalah. Max just wants to be left alone with his precious numbers, but his pursuers keep him on the run, as well as make him question his relationship with his Jewish heritage and, eventually, draw him mysteriously toward the number pi.

Math is everyone’s least favorite subject in school, but Aronofsky makes it exciting, thrilling stuff. Jewish mysticism gets its due here, too. (As Aronofsky once put it in an interview, “I wanted to make a movie about God, math and badass Jews.”) The combination, accented with gritty black and white cinematography and an alluring electronic music score (by Aphex Twin, Orbital and others), is captivating.

Best Line:
“11:15, restate my assumptions: 1. Mathematics is the language of nature. 2. Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers. 3. If you graph these numbers, patterns emerge. Therefore: There are patterns everywhere in nature.”

Side Note:
Despite the heavy (and mostly accurate) mathematics in the script, Aronofsky did have to take a few liberties. For instance, Max’s attempt to list all 216-digit numbers would be impossible — it would take even the fastest computer longer than the lifetime of the universe to accomplish the task.

Companion Viewing:
“Run Lola Run” (1996).

Official site (designed by Gullette).
Darren Aronofsky Online.
A drinking game.

Take a Look:
The trailer:

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