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The Duke De Mondo On “Pi”

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Way back in the olden times, when folks couldn’t go from A to B without some bloody great dragon or other blowing fire up their holes, and men were knights and women were wenches, Darren Aronofsky released his third filmic excursion, the highly-regarded fountain of nonsense that is Pi.

The Duke was alerted to the flick via gushing, orgasmic reviews in any number of glossy magazines, and set out to view this slab of mathematical mayhem. It has, however, taken until tonight, for that plan to bear fruit of any substantial nature.

Some time ago I saw Aronofsky’s follow-up film, the laughably pretentious Requiem For A Dream, released in some territories as The Mum From The Exorcist Pukes Herself Thin, and to be honest, it dampened my enthusiasm for seeking out the earlier work. I’ll get it out next time, I would say. Oh, look, Porkys 1 & 2 on the same disc! I’ll get Pi next time. What’s that? The Beyond digitally remastered, you say? Well, get it over here my good man. And I’ll be certain to pick up Pi next time.

Anyway, I finally bought it a fortnight ago, and tonight I flung it into the old DVD player and sat back to bask in its conundrums.

You may remember, back when you were at school, that teachers often yacked on about this thing by the name of “maths”. Don’t strain too hard, it’s perfectly sufficient to know that it was the one with numbers, not the one with letters. The Duke was painfully inept at this number malarkey, with its 4r X 6h carrying on. Nonsensical gibberish, The Duke hissed, and The Duke was right. It was indeed nonsensical gibberish.

And then a film came out, one made by the red-haired one from Happy Days, and it had Gladiator doing lots and lots of maths. True to form, it was utter pish. But anyone expecting similarly high quantities of urine in Aronofsky’s numbers movie would be all the wrong in the world.

This is some good shit, right here.

The plot concerns one Maximillian Cohen, as he tries to uncover the hidden pattern that lies somewhere at the heart of the stock-market. This has something to do with God, also, and is causing Max no end of anxiety. He meets up now and again with an old fella and they play board games and talk about the mathematics and such, and then he has panic attacks and injects stuff into his skull. It’s all very intriguing.

Pi is the closest film has yet come to replicating hip-hop. That’s not to say that the script is all “motherfucker” and “ho”, in fact the swearing is kept to a minimum throughout. And I don’t mean the soundtrack is all Snoopy-G or Icey Dre either, even though it does go for a rather ambient techno type affair that will probably be horribly dated in five years time. No, what I mean is that this film has a rhythm one could feasibly dance to. The editing gives the impression of a record being scratched back and forth, back and forth, to give those delightful “wikka wikka” noises, except instead of aural it’s visual. “Wikka wikka” editing, if you will. There’s a pulse here, a beat so sharp one could lose a damn finger. Shots are repeated over and over, footage speeds up, bizarre angles abound. Wikka Wikka.

On this evidence, you would assume Aronofsky to be some kind of demented genius. You might even be right. And indeed, The Duke may have to swallow the old humble pi, regurgitate it, and sit down to watch that Puke Yourself Thin flick again. The old Wikka Wikka cuts are very persuasive.

Pi brings to mind Eraserhead, whilst simultaneously hinting at Tetsuo – Iron Man, and also throws in a fair old measure of Barton Fink. But the whole is pure original genius. The high-contrast black and white photography will knock the eyes out of you for a while, and the numbers and sums and adding up and taking away will give you a pounding headache if you’re not careful, but it’s all a whole heap of worth-it.

If only Aronofsky could turn his attentions to French or Biology, perhaps the entire education system would appear as vibrant, tantalising and intriguing as the old maths now seems. I’m off to buy me a calculator and a drill.

Come visit The Duke, won’t you, at Mondo Irlando.

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