WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW? ** 1/2
STARRING: Marlee Matlin, Barry Newman
DIRECTOR: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente
RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
RATING: Unrated but R equivalent for short scenes of sexuality, nudity
THE LOWDOWN: Documentary intertwined with an "Alice in Wonderland"-type movie tries to unravel the mysteries of life.
If you find yourself often wondering "What the bleep do we know?" you could find your answer in the aptly titled concept film "What the Bleep Do We Know?" Then again, you might just ask yourself what the bleep this film is about.
After forcing myself to sit through the entirety of this documentary, I realize I don't know a darn thing. That, at least, is what the trio of filmmakers behind "Bleep" -- William Arntz, Betsy Chasse and Mark Vicente -- wants us to understand. We don't know anything.
"The Matrix" had it right -- to a point. The world around us is an illusion, one we've created through our preconditioned mind. The filmmakers make their point by offering the thoughts of 13 people who tend to spout off such indecipherable thoughts as this:
"What I thought was unreal now, for me, seems in some ways to be more real than what I think to be real, which seems now more to be unreal."
They give their thoughts on quantum physics and the subatomic world, and they answer questions, too. Where are we? Who are we? Where are we going? What is reality? Who/what is God? What is love? (As one tells us, "Emotions are holigraphically imprinted chemicals.") And, for added flavoring, they throw about words like hypothalmus, amino acids and peptides.
To illustrate points, the filmmakers have woven the interviews around a short film starring Marlee Matlin. It, like the entire film, is ponderous. Once it finally gives enough information to understand its point, it quickly becomes self-indulgent with gimmicky filmmaking.
Psychedelic images accompanying explanatory voice-overs made me yearn to watch "Altered States," the fantastic 1980 film starring a young William Hurt as a research scientist searching for the meaning of life. That film was way out there, too, but I still gleaned a lot from it.
This film, as I understand, was made for an audience called the "cultural creatives" who are seeking "enlightened entertainment." They know their ideas are as "radical as Einstein, as blasphemous as Bruno, as heretical as Galileo." So since we're used to suspending our disbelief for movies, why not do it for "Bleep" and try to understand these beliefs that exist in the real world?
It might be easier to do if this film was easier to digest. The scientific jargon is heavy, and it's tough to understand if you don't have a basic understanding of chemistry and physics.
"Bleep" is better-suited to the Discovery channel than a movie theater, but then the filmmakers would tell me I think that because I'm a prisoner of limits set in my mind. But, in my happy little fake world where I dig the idea of parallel universe -- in the creative hands of a Rod Serling-type -- if I'm going to sit through two hours of cinematic scientific mumbo-jumbo, I'd like a little disaster movie thrown into the pot as well.