This was heavily requested from this
list
of potential reviews in last week’s
column
. If you have any suggestions about what I
should review next, post below or e-mail me.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Sean Gullette as Maximillian Cohen

Mark Margolis as Sol Robeson

Ben Shenkman as Lenny Meyer

Written by Darren Aronofsky, Sean Gullette, and Eric
Watson

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Complete information is available from the
IMDB
.

This
DVD release

includes no extra language features that I noticed,
but it does have a
few commentary tracks, deleted scenes, and the like.

Premise

A man is obsessed with his search for finding an
underlying pattern in
anything he comes across.

High Point

The producers couldn’t afford more than 16mm black
and white film.
Rather than cutting some other corners, they used the
opportunity to
shoot the entire film in homage to the soviet montage
films of the
1920s, with extreme black and white contrasts and
fast editing. You
don’t need flashy effects to really shine.

Low Point

Choosing the tight close-ups with the steadycam at
the end made it
impossible for me to follow what was happening for a
few stretches.
They needed to pull back, or use a steadier camera.

The Scores

We’ve seen the brilliant recluse before, and on more
than one
occasion. We haven’t seen one quite like this,
though, particularly one
with this solution to his troubles. I give the
originality 5
out of 6.

The effects were few, and they were all
make-up effects.
Still, they were convincing enough that I didn’t see
them coming the
first time around. (Check his arm after the first
injection; that
tool actually leaves a round red mark where it was
used.) I give it 6
out of 6.

The story is interesting. It’s not terribly
complicated on
the surface, but there is some depth that exposes
itself, particularly
upon repeated viewings. (This viewing was the first
time I realized
that 216=6x6x6, for example.) Unfortunately, if you
don’t go looking
for the depth, there are large chunks that won’t make
a lot of
sense. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting was passible enough. The parts
were well played,
but most had only one attitude to bring forth during
the film. I give
it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is mostly interest in
the layers
rather than the characters, with a jolt at the
solution to the
problem. There’s little attachment to anyone in the
film. I give it 4
out of 6.

The production is exceptionally well done,
particularly given
the available resources. Darren Aronofsky is a
director I’m keeping
my eyes out for. (Incidentally, he also directed
Requiem For A
Dream
, which isn’t Bureau 42 material, but which
you should watch
anyway.) The Clint Mansell musical score is an
excellent compliment
to the film, wrapping a frantic overture over a
rythmic, structured
basic melody. As I said above, the editing,
lighting, and production
design make excellent use of the available film
stock. I give it 6
out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decent movie from a purely
entertainment
perspective, and an excellent movie from a more
technical filmmaking
perspective. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Pi receives 35 out of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

It seems that the Batman: Year One project,
to be directed by
Aronofsky from a Frank Miller script based on
Miller’s graphic novel,
isn’t going to happen. The last time I heard,
Aronofsky and Miller
were refusing to budge on the R-rated level of
violence, and the WB
refused to make a Batman flick that wasn’t family
friendly. (I guess
they made an exception for Batman and Robin,
because it was
equally unfriendly to families and any other
self-respecting
moviegoers.) Chris Nolan’s Batman:
Intimidation
is still in
the pipeline, and Liam Neeson has just joined Guy
Pearce in the cast.