Cult Movie Essentials

Cult Movie Essentials: Pi (1998)

Written and directed by a debuting Darren Aronofsky,  Pi follows Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) an unemployed man who lives in a shabby Chinatown apartment in New York City. Max is a number theorist who believes that everything in nature can be understood through numbers. He is capable of doing simple arithmetic calculations involving large numbers in his head, a skill that impresses Jenna (Lauren Fox), a very young Chinese-American girl with a calculator who lives in his apartment building.

Max suffers from cluster headaches, as well as extreme paranoia, hallucinations, and social anxiety disorder. Other than Devi (Samia Shoaib), a young woman living next door who sometimes speaks to him, Max’s only social interaction is with Sol Robeson (Mark Margolis), his old mathematics mentor who is now an invalid.

Max begins making stock predictions based on the calculations of his computer, Euclid. In the middle of printing out its picks, Euclid suddenly crashes after spitting out a seemingly random 216-digit number, as well as a single pick at one-tenth its current value. Disgusted, Max tosses out the printout of the number. The next morning, he checks the financial pages and sees that the pick Euclid made was accurate. He searches desperately for the printout but cannot find it. Sol becomes unnerved when Max mentions the number, asking if it contained 216 digits. When Max questions him about the number, Sol indicates that he came across it many years ago…

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