In cinematic terms, a "redux" is a film that is recut and brought back to audiences a smidgen different. Apocalypse Now did it by adding an hour of extra footage. Now that DVDs are hitting the streets with added scenes and alternate editions and whatnot, it seems a little fishy (read: money grubby) to re-release a director's cut edition to theaters, but filmmakers of What the Bleep Do We Know!?, 2004's cult hit about quantum physics, are doing just that with What the Bleep!? Down the Rabbit Hole.
This is not a sequel; this is essentially the same film, just longer. And because the film was suspect the first time around, cynicism toward the posed theories is easy.
This bleeping installment applies the same set-up as the last: a pseudo-documentary featuring a series of interviews with an interwoven narrative to illustrate the interviewees' metaphysical concepts. In fact, it features the identical narrative--the story of aggravated photographer Amanda (Marlee Matlin). She hates men, she hates her boss, she hates her body and she fruitlessly pops pills to keep her stable. Over the course of unusually handy animated lessons, Amanda comes to understand the film's thesis: that science and spirituality are not mutually exclusive and that our thoughts and attitudes directly influence our physical daily reality.
Some of the interviews are new and feature what the trio of directors bill as new scientific findings. Still, much of it is the same haphazard lecture montage as the last Bleep with the same scientists, theologians and psychologists postulating in the forefront of many an academic landscape. One guy even sits before a classroom blackboard chalked in algorithms and physics formulas, which was a good idea by the director of photography, for otherwise he would sound like a complete fruitcake.
Among the talking heads is JZ Knight, an engaging, pipe-smoking, middle-aged vixen who speaks with an indistinguishable "foreign" accent (word is she's from New Mexico). She channels the ancient warrior spirit Ramtha. She also uses Ramtha's name and runs the Ramtha School of Enlightenment in Washington. The way the film works: Ramtha offers a lesson with a quasi-scientific take on consciousness--example: We are addicted to our attitudes--and the other "experts" extrapolate while rapidly throwing around ideas like quantum mechanics, neurobiology and peptides.
The redux is an hour longer than the original, thanks to added interviews more deeply exploring concepts and delving into far more scientific wordplay, which is thought-provoking but too long and too academically thin. It is like watching a schizophrenic episode that's an hour longer than the last one you saw.
The filmmakers, Mark Vicente, William Arntz and Betsy Chasse, are all Ramtha students, which may explain why Knight's segments are the cleanest and most compelling. It also might explain why the flick feels more like a garage sale on enlightenment than an unbiased exploration.
The filmmakers have an agenda, but it doesn't really go anywhere other than clearing the path so we know it is OK to ask those pesky theological questions, like "Why are we here?", "Can we really understand reality?" and "Are we there yet?"
By the end, I only know the answer to the last one: No. Which sets up Ramtha for a sequel.
New to the film is the animated Dr. Quantum, a geezer superhero who navigates through realms of dimensions to additionally help illustrate the new age-y possibilities. Also new is the idea of the rabbit hole, a dizzying route to nonsense that perhaps makes more sense than regular sense. So what happens when you go down it? You spend your time trying to get back out, just like Alice did in Wonderland, the filmmakers say.
Boiseans can join local discussion groups that focus on What the Bleep!? Meetings will begin soon to include discussion about Down the Rabbit Hole. You can find out more about the groups and about some of the scientists in the film such as Masaru Emoto (the guy who assigned feelings to water) through Spirit at Work Books and Beyond.
Down the Rabbit Hole shows March 24-26, 2 p.m. ($10) and 7 p.m. ($12/$15/$45) at Spirit at Works, 710 N. Orchard St., 388-3884. March 24-25, actor and media director Pavel Mikoloski will be present to answer questions and sign books.
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