CULT FILM FAVES: Pi

Pi - poster

No, Prince has not adopted a new symbol as a substitute for his name.

And, no, director Ang Lee has not filmed a sequel to global box office hit Life of Pi.

Film-maker Darren Aronofsky - A Taste for Pi
Film-maker Darren Aronofsky – A Taste for Pi

Darren Aronofsky was still in his twenties when he co-wrote and directed his feature film debut. The talented and resourceful young film-maker would go on to win a Best Director Oscar nom for Black Swan but it all started with Pi (available on Netflix.)

Geeky computer whiz Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) believes everything  around us can be represented and understood through numbers. As he puts it, “Mathematics is the language of nature … graft the numbers of any system and patterns emerge.”

I think my high school math teacher said something along those lines but I’m not sure. I was too busy trying to get the attention of the girl in the next row.

Anyway, back to the plot, Max is on the verge of a breakthrough which will enable him to predict the stock market (if his blinding migraine headaches don’t kill him first.)

His work attracts the unwanted attention of a vicious Wall Street firm and a sect of orthodox Jews who believe Max’s findings can unlock the secrets of an ancient holy text.

Shot for $60,000 (barely enough to cover Brad Pitt’s coffee break), this brainy, imaginative thriller went on to win screenplay honors for Aronofsky at Independent Spirit Awards and Best Director at Sundance where it was the hit of the 1998 festival. 

Sean Gulette in Pi -  A "Head" for Figures
Sean Gullette in Pi
A “Head” for Figures

Cinematographer Matthew Libatique, whose hallucinogenic black and white cinematography in Pi earned favorable comparisons to David Lynch’s  Eraserhead, also worked with Aronofsky on the controversial Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan as well as racking up credits on his own for Iron Man 1 & 2. 

Clint Mansell, composer of Pi‘s throbbing electronic soundtrack, earned a Grammy nomination for his work on the Black Swan soundtrack and has composed the scores for MoonSmokin’Aces, The Wrestler (another Aronofsky hit)  and the French language film L’Affaire Farewell (to mention just a few)

But the road to fame for these mighty  talents behind the camera all began with this cerebral, paranoid low budget thriller

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