Thursday, February 03, 2005

What does Pi have to do with Jewish mysticism?

tefellin and tallis
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

sheath for the tallis
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
The other night David and I watched one of the next batch of 50-odd Netflix movies I'd queued up since joining in the autumn.

Pi: Faith in Chaos is a 1998 film by Darren Aronofsky that I'd seen before, but I'd anticipated watching again with Netflix (flat rate per month for unlimited movies). It's a high-concept, low-budget indie film that commingles themes of science and religion with the fragility and complexity of humanity. Not everyone's idea of popcorn fare, but it's right up my alley. You may recognise Darren Aronofsky from his more famous and more recent work, Requiem for a Dream (2000), which is also in my Netflix queue, but reserved under the category I like to call "The best movie I never want to see again" as commented in Katy's blog. Well, it's been a few years now, so I'm bracing myself to see it again.

Anyway, I was going to explain the connection between Pi and Jewish mysticism, but it's based on mathematics and far too esoteric for me to describe properly without spoiling the film, but if you're intrigued, David wrote a review on it yesterday: Pi. The scenes in the film that dealt with Jewish rituals prompted David to bring out his Bar Mitvah tefellin and tallis. I took a few pics -- wish I had a macro lens, but this is the best I can do -- as it was the first time since then that they'd seen the light of day. As unreligious as I am, I find religious symbols fascinating and objects of beauty.

Last night we watched the last of this batch of Netflix films, my favourite of the Dogme 95 series, Thomas Vinterberg's Festen/The Celebration. If you know anything about the subject matter, you'll probably think I'm a freak for enjoying this film so much. Even after multiple viewings, it's still scathing. It's not that I revel in the scandalous, but how it portrays the family relationships is so engaging. Stiff upper lips, those Danes!

I think after those two films, David's ready for some lighter fare. I've queued up the British series The Office for some comic relief. That, and the Canadian curling comedy Men with Brooms... I haven't seen either one, and I'm ready for some Brit and Canadian humour -- with a U!