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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 5/27/99



Pi
1998 (1999) Harvest Filmworks (Artisan)

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Pi Film Ratings: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A-/A

Specs and Features

85 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.66:1 aspect ratio), single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), Amaray keep case packaging, two commentary tracks (one with director Darren Aronofsky, and the other with star Sean Gullette), deleted scenes (with or without commentary), cast and crew biographies, production notes, music video for Pir2, 2 theatrical trailers, behind-the-scenes footage with commentary, excerpts from the graphic novel The Book Of Ants based on the film, animated film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (36 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none, Close Captioned


Let me get one thing off my back, I suck at math -- big time. But that didn't keep me from really enjoying Pi. I liked it so much, that I'd have to say it's one of the best independent films to come out in a long time. Pi is the story of Maximilian Cohen, a brilliant mathematician who believes there is a numerical pattern to everything in life. From a wind blown tree branch all the way to the stock market, things happen for a reason, and Max thinks he can figure out a way to predict them. He and his computer are right on the verge of figuring it all out, when a glitch (giving him a pattern that couldn't possibly be correct) sends him back to the drawing board. The only problem is, it may not be have been a glitch - he might have actually figured the pattern out. To make matters worse, Max has his share of other problems as well. He's plagued with terrible migraine headaches, and he's being followed by a shady Wall Street financial group, and a Kaballah sect that needs Max to unlock the hidden numeric name of God.

Shot in stark black and white by Matthew Libatique, Pi is a kissing cousin to David Lynch's Eraserhead, and one helluva great flick. The movie flows in and out of the surreal and the real, like some sort of prima ballerina dancing on a stage -- and it's an intriguing ride all the way through. Director/writer Darren Aronofsky, and his star Sean Gullette (who portrays Max), fill the character of Max with so many little bits of trivia, that he seems that much more real. Max could be that guy on the train that you can't take your eyes off of. He could be your next door neighbor. Hell... he could be you.

I really haven't liked a movie this much in quite a long time - and I'm sorry I didn't catch it in theaters. Silly me wrote the thing off as a glorified student film, or something similar.

It's not just a great flick, either. Artisan sure knows how to pack a DVD. Along with a great looking B&W print, and a full-sounding 2.0 Dolby soundtrack, this disc comes with two commentaries that are both quite killer. One features the writer/director Aronofsky, and the other features Gullette - Max himself. There is very little cross-over in their commentaries, and both shed immense light onto the trades both practice. I recommend this disc simply for the commentaries alone. Although I have to admit, I was a bit peeved at Aronofsky for not revealing the point of the ants - I guess we'll never know.

For those of you who want more, oh, there's more. There's an interesting behind-the-scenes short that includes footage from Sundance, a set of cut scenes (which are neat - especially an extended reel of "shakycam" footage), and a music video featuring the theme song Pir2 , complete with some eerie footage of those damn, unspoken ants. There's also some bits from a graphic novel based on the film, illustrated by Edward Ross Flynn, and written by Aronofsky. All told this disc is a really great package.

Pi unleashes two powerful talents upon the film world, and it's going to be fun seeing what these two guys give us in the future. I can't wait to see what Aronofsky does with a real budget. But for now, fans like myself have this really stellar disc to tide us over.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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