[box cover]

What the Bleep Do We Know!?

This curious, sometimes provocative, intentionally dubious, and occasionally entertaining independent movie professes to explore quantum physics through a mixture of colorful documentary interviews (with talking heads one presumes are scientists) juxtaposed against a clumsy but not entirely unappealing fictional narrative. While the film's initially anonymous interlocutees enthusiastically hold forth on subjects like time, matter, being, brain chemistry, addiction, and the charms of metaphysical transcendence, Marlee Matlin co-stars as a depressed photographer who learns to manage her unruly peptides to effect a more positive emotional reality for herself. The fictional half of What the Bleep Do We Know!? shows off the directorial inexperience of writer/director/producers William Arntz and Betsy Chasse, with heavily mannered performances and slick-but-juvenile special effects dramatizing the concepts explored in the movie's interview segments. What begins as if it will be an entertaining scientific discussion of some very heady subjects, instead settles for (some sensible) paperback self-actualization principles blanketed in hifalutin' terminology with a good deal of elitist disparagement of the self-made plight of the unenlightened, and which soon assumes a creeping odor of New-Agey religious zealotry. When one (as yet unidentified) interview subject proclaims that those who don't ponder the possibilities of quantum physics are three-quarters dead, sensitive viewers may flinch, but when the dominant interview subject-to-be-named-later, following a segment dismissing conventional religion, rhetorically inquires "What's the only planet in the Milky Way that has habitation that is steeped in enormous subjugation of religion?" one may wonder by what process of investigative reduction has she determined her answer. As What the Bleep Do We Know!? concludes, we are finally revealed the identities of the movie's increasingly suspicious 14-"scientist" panel. Bubbly physicist and author Fred Alan Wolf stands alone amongst this group in matching the movie's title with his infectious enthusiasm and gracious intellectual humility; joining him, among others, are former Natural Law Party presidential candidate John Hagelin (a staunch believer in the power of "Vedic defense shields," wherein group meditation is proposed to foil enemy attacks); academic polymath Dr. Jeffrey Satinover; and, lastly, but most importantly, Ramtha, the alleged 35,000-year-old spirit warrior (as channeled through new age entrepreneur J.Z. Knight) behind Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, where Arntz, Chasse, co-director Mark Vincente have all studied. Ultimately, What the Bleep Do We Know!? may amount to little more than an ambitious stealth infomercial for what seems to be a benign cult of mystical self-improvement, not unlike Scientology. Mitigating those dubious origins, The DVD Journal's HQ of Portland, Oregon, has rarely looked as lovely and inviting in a feature film. Also with appearances by Barry Newman and Armin Shimerman. Fox presents the film in a good anamorphic transfer (1.78:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The flip side of the disc features nearly 40 minutes of unedifying interview footage with Arntz, Chasse, Vincente, Matlin and other cast members, as well as Aeon Spoke's music video "Emmanuel." Trailers, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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