"What the #$*! Do We Know?"
Dirs: Vincente, Arntz, Chasse

Don Thompson

First, a little disclaimer. This film that is the subject of this review was produced/directed by a friend of mine; this friend was also the co-producer of some of my own films and plays. So although I have no connection to this film, I may be a little biased. That said, the film What The Bleep Do We Know is something I wanted to alert our SolPix readers to, simply because it is such a breakthrough work that deals with subject matter that one will not, to say the least, find in any way shape or form in mainstream cinema today. The film is co-directed by William Arntz (my friend), Mark Vincente (whom I met briefly) and Betsy Chasse (who I have not met), and is a tour de force of what you might call "hybrid" cinema -- a film that combines forms and genres to create something new. Now quite a documentary, not quite a narrative, but very experimental and ultimately very entertaining.

The film has been making a strong showing in the Northwest U.S. (where it was made), and is making its way to Los Angeles and points East, and I predict will likely find itself screened in all major U.S. cities by the end of the year. It won the Best Documentary at the DC Independent Film Festival (where I saw it) and the Grand Jury Prize at the Ashland Film Festival and Platinum Award for Best Feature Documentary at the Houston WorldFest Film Festival, as well as rave reviews from a lot of reviewer colleagues out there.

To be honest, stylistically this is not a film I would have made, because I have a different take on filmmaking. But the message of this film syncs right up with what I personally believe is important. This film is a unique exploration, and displays a bravado and level of sheer cinematic balls quite unlike anything you're likely to see in a while. The film's subject: the truth. What is it? Where does it come from? Who is responsible for it? And when I say "the truth" I mean, well, reality. What we perceive as truth. And that wraps around so many tangential aspects of life that it winds up posing all sorts of very personal questions: How do I feel about myself? What are my addictions? To what extent am I a victim and to what extent am I in control of my life?

My friend Will has called his film "a weapon of mass reconstruction" and I believe him. The issue with so much of today's culture is that it based on "givens" that we don't question. The fundamental basic "given" of human existence is that there is some kind of objective reality we're all experiencing. And yet our science, our advanced physics that comes out of an empiricism that (ironically) had/has this belief at it core, that same physics is questioning "objective" reality and subverting the very science that spawned it. This avant garde science is becoming, in a very real sense, the basis for a new kind of spirituality that grows out of, and is not antithetical to, science. That is the nature of the radical (and yet very reputable) scientists that are interviewed in What The Bleep.

Stephen Simon, producer of What Dreams May Come and Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure said the film heralded a new cultural shift. This I also believe, because I know that the creative projects Will and I worked on together previously were of the same mindset. His new film is in some ways an extension of that, and builds on what I know has been a lot of soul-searching on his (and his co-directors) part. They spent three years making this labor of love, that includes some great special effects and great performances from Marlee Matlin and the young Robert Baily Jr.

I recommend this film if you have a chance to see it. You can check out the newest screenings on the film's website, given below.

-- Don Thompson

To find out more about What The Bleep Do We Know: [click here]

Copyright Web del Sol, 2004

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