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PI

SYNOPSIS:
Reclusive and socially awkward mathematics genius Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) has spent ten years attempting to decode the numerical system underpinning the stock market. A believer that "Everything can be understood through numbers", Max's research brings him close to a solution when he becomes the target for corporate and religious interest groups. An agressive Wall Street firm want his services to initiate global economic domination and and a Jewish Kabbalah sect believe he is on the verge of decoding a secret hidden in holy texts. Battling debilitating illness caused by staring at an eclipse as a child and losing his grip on reality Max's quest takes on sinister dimensions the closer he comes to cracking the code.

"Mathematics is no longer a boring subject thanks to Darren Aronofsky's film which is one of the most exciting independent America features in years. Ambitious in concept and execution, it opens a compelling puzzle box and tightens the screws at each turn with a blend of style and substance that's hard to find on 50 times the budget. The exciting premise combines ideas of science and nature; presenting them as unified rather than opposing elements which, when analyzed with the brilliance of someone like Max, might just hold the key to some very large questions. Aronofsky wisely knows that the best way to engage us (especially on a $60,000 shooting budget) is with emotion and has an ideal protagonist in Max Cohen whose journey makes us want to know about ancient religious scriptures and the theories of Archimedes, Pythagoras and Da Vinci as they might relate to our own confused present. Voiced-over in film noir detective style by Max, stunningly shot on high-contrast reversal black and white film stock and powered by a thumping soundtrack featuring artists like Aphex Twin and Massive Attack, this is a compelling and, most importantly, original science-fiction film which has that rare ability to also be believable. You might expect just an extended MTV-style clip workout from PI but Aronofsky proves at 28 he's got the goods all right and leaves us with plenty to think about afterwards as well."
Richard Kuipers

"No, no, this is not science fiction (beg to disagree, Richard) – this is a science thriller. Science fiction implies a futuristic setting, whereas Pi is set in the present – with a healthy glance at the past, or at least past scientific thinkers. But I do agree with everything else Richard says and would add that Mark Margolis’ old Hungarian maths whizz - and the conscience of science facing off against its enthusiasm, personified by Max - is one of the most tangible characters I’ve seen on screen. Max is not. Max is off the wall, at least my wall, but he’s a fascinating character all the same, compulsive (and compulsive to watch) and driven, frail, unstable, brilliant, intuitive and at least partially barking mad. And vaguely likeable, even understandable. And of course this feeling of getting close to him is the key to Aronofsky’s adventure in bravura low budget filmmaking. We are engaged and gripped by the mystery of Pi; heavens to betsy, that’s an achievement in itself! What’s more, the film opens windows to the world which are fascinating both intellectually and viscerally. If you care about this universe, that is. If not, you wouldn’t be reading movie reviews. I surprised myself really tripping on the soundtrack (way too contempo for my usual tastes) and getting a buzz from the fusion of mental and emotional exercises that Max goes through; and perhaps that’s the core of the film’s appeal. It completely believes in its subject matter and in its characters, sweeping you along with its passion."
Andrew L. Urban

"This massively cryptic film could be defined as exploring one man's search for peace, while at the same time, it's an exhilarating and intoxicating cinematic journey. The suspense and mood of the film are heightened by a snappy and electric score by Clint Mansell, a soundtrack that keeps one on the edge with its razor-sharp tone. The film is further enhanced by the cinematography of Matthew Libatique, who gives us an infectious feeling of paranoia with the use of glorious black and white film and the constant use of an unsteady camera to show the fast movement of Max. Pi is a fascinating and intoxicating thriller, but it's not for everyone. While it has a wonderfully edgy tone to it, the film is confusing at times, perhaps over-intellectual. But having said that, in an industry not known for catering for the more astute audience, for the filmgoer craving a truly intellectual experience, Pi is one of the most absorbing and remarkable films of the year."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0
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See Andrew L. Urban's interview with

DARREN ARONOFSKY

TRAILER

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PI
(US)

CAST: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, Pamela hart, Stephen Pearlman

DIRECTOR: Darren Aronofsky

PRODUCER: Eric Watson

SCRIPT: Darren Aronofsky

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Matthew Libatique

EDITOR: Oren Sarch

MUSIC: Clint Mansell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Matthew Marrafi

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Beyond Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: July 15, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: March 13, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Siren Entertainment







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