The Legacy of "Pi": Is Experimental a Dirty Word?
By Anthony Kaufman
Are "Judy Berlin" and "Treasure Island" this year's "Pi"? And if they
are, is that a curse or blessing? Just because they're shot in black
and white and told with a unique sensibility, do these two intriguing
and very dissimilar Sundance Competition entries deserve the label
"experimental" that Variety and others have bestowed upon them. And again, is that designation commercially destructive or in the case of Darren Aronofsky's "Pi," the differentiating force and saving grace
among a glut of carbon copy independents?
Eric Mendelsohn, the writer/director of "Judy Berlin," isn't so sure.
"When [Variety] came out, I was shocked," says the 34-year-old filmmaker over a pot of Lapsang Souchang tea. (Variety's one-line synopsis called it "a semi-experimental drama in black-and-white about some Long Islanders during a solar eclipse.") "There's very little in the film which is experimental," Mendelsohn comments. "I'm not pushing the envelope with this film. If it's experimental in anyway, it's in the way that, [Thorton Wilder's]