“New Elsewheres Unthought”

Marlee Matlin as ‘Amanda’ in “What the Bleep Do We Know!?”I got quite excited when I chanced upon a copy of What the Bleep Do We Know!? (2004) in a charity shop… I mean, I hadn’t actually heard of the flick before, but the premise of combining talking head interviews with narrative segments to explore issues of spirituality and so-called “quantum mysticism” sounded right up my hippy-dippy street. I like to think I’m a fairly intelligent person, and I went into this experience with an eager mind, but I still found the interviews to be off-puttingly opaque, not to mention kinda tedious and wanky (for example, the Ed-Wood-esque title of this post is a direct quote from one of the “experts” interviewed here), while the narrative scenes played like nonsensical out-takes from an unnecessarily sweary, weirdly repulsive, painfully unfunny, made-for-TV-movie. Watching the cast interviews on the second disc, it’s clear that Marlee Matlin and Elaine Hendrix were genuinely invested in this project, and went into it with the best of intentions… but the finished product really doesn’t do them any favours, with its piss-poor dialogue and flimsy direction. In fact, I’d much rather have watched two hours of Matlin signing about the movie, than sat through the thing itself.

Elaine Hendrix as ‘Jennifer’ in “What the Bleep Do We Know!?”Weirdly though, one of the “exclusive” UK features on the extras disc is a compilation of video testimonials given by audience members after a screening of the movie, and they all rave about it like a super-energising coffee-enema-for-the-mind. If just one of them had expressed some reservations, I might have gone along with it… like “Well, the jokes were pretty crappy, but it had some interesting ideas”… but their unconditional, hyperbolic enthusiasm makes me very suspicious indeed. One old man even went so far as to claim that it represented “the future” of cinema! If that’s the case, then I humbly suggest that we smash the projectors and tear the screens down now, because that’s not a prophecy any of us want to see come to pass!

Sigh… I’d like to believe that it’s possible to make a properly entertaining and inspiring film about characters exploring their (non-churchy) spirituality*… but this misfire and The Celestine Prophecy are terrible examples to go by. So far, the best movie I’ve seen in this vein was Guy Ritchie’s Revolver… which is pretty unsuccessful overall, but does have a few scenes that vividly illustrate some of the major hurdles you have to overcome on the path to enlightenment.

Incidentally, if you are interested in taking practical steps to break negative thought patterns, I’d highly recommend checking out a copy of the self-help book Teach Yourself Happiness (aka How to be Happier: Teach Yourself) by Paul Jenner, which you can pick up for a couple of quid/dollars “used” on Amazon. [No, I don’t get a kick-back for that plug… just trying to be helpful!]


* I only say “non-churchy” because there are already plenty films exploring mainstream spirituality.

About Dee CrowSeer

A comic book writer with an interest in feminism, philosophy, and affirmative action. He/him.
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