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With: Starring Marlee Matlin, Elaine Hendrix, Barry Newman, Robert Bailey Jr., John Ross Bowie, Armin Shimerman, Robert Blanche
Written by: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente
Directed by: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: -99
Date: 03/18/2013

What the #$*! Do We Know?! (2004)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Brain Candy

By Rob Blackwelder, SPLICEDwire

Reminiscent of Carl Sagan's PBS series "Cosmos" in its dispositionand its tone of wonderment, What the #$*! Do We Know is a fascinating,nearly uncategorizable movie hybrid. A documentary about the theoreticalinter-relationship of spirituality, biology and quantum physics, itsintricate existential concepts are wrapped around a fictional story,used to illustrate and make comprehensible all the heavy-thinking wildnotions proffered by enthusiastic science wonks and philosophersinterviewed in non-fiction portions of the picture.

It's a film that fires the mind with scores of terrific, circular scientific quandaries, such as the fact that experiencing, remembering and imagining an event all trigger the exact same signals in the exact same areas of the brain. So, the movie asks, what is reality and how can one tell? It also delves into under-examined notions of biology (heroin uses the same receptors on human cells as the chemicals triggered by emotions), physics (the fundamental laws of which don't recognize time), and even religion. Jesus' preaching about the mustard seed being larger than the kingdom of heaven is "pure Quantum physics" says one interviewee. Another adds, "We're living on the tip of the quantum iceberg."

By loosely tying all this into the interwoven narrative about a deaf photographer (Marlee Matlin from Children of a Lesser God) slowly emerging from a deep and bitter post-divorce funk, writer-directors William Arntz, Betsy Chasse and Mark Vicente provide an affecting accessibility that gradually paints a very large picture of a universe more ordered and interconnected -- and yet more mysterious -- than mankind has hitherto imagined.

What the Bleep (the preferred pronunciation) sometimes slips into the realm of new-age spiritual hooey since some of its glorified interview subjects radiate the same suspicious halcyon haze as weak-willed born-again types and cult members who want to convert the whole world now that they've found a psychological band-aid for their personality problems.

But it's so thick with provocative, often profound, food for thought that the film feels like an intellectual all-you-can-eat buffet.

DVD Details: Bonus material includes a Q&A with the directors, a music video, "The Top 5 Bleeps" and the original theatrical trailer.

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