Review of Pi

Pi (1998)
An artsy B&W film that can appeal to only a narrow audience.
4 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
My studies and career have been intimately entwined with mathematics and numbers. I like numbers, I understand numbers, they make sense to me. So with the many favorable comments on this movie, titled after that fundamental measure of a circle's circumference to its diameter, 'PI', I went into this eagerly. I found it on Netflix streaming movies.

Overall it is a big disappointment for me. Sean Gullette is the central character Max Cohen, a New York non-religious Jew, who is also a mathematics genius. Graduated from college at 16, a PhD at 20.

But as his voice-over tells us, as a young boy he was told not to stare at the sun, but he did anyway when he was 6. Some time later, as the bandages were removed he began slowly to see light again. And he also started having headaches. All this presumably contributed to his math genius and his borderline madness.

The meat of the story comes when he is using his computer at home and it spits out a long string of numbers, perhaps 200 or so, maybe a bit more. Then in a chance meeting with a Hasidic Jew, learns that there is a rumor that a mysterious 216-digit number matched to symbols in the Torah spells out the name of God. So Max begins to wonder if somehow his computer had spit out that number, now on a paper he had discarded.

So we follow Max as he gets confused, or angry, and yells at everyone around. Followed by a woman who wants his codes for predicting the stock market. All in all not a very satisfying viewing for me.

One thing fun was seeing veteran actor Mark Margolis as Max's former graduate adviser Sol Robeson. Margolis had a key role in the TV series "Breaking Bad" as the wheelchair bound and mute member of the Mexican drug lord family.
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