The Wild Blue Yonder

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BOLDLY GO Astronauts flip out.
BOLDLY GO Astronauts flip out.

“Another galaxy—a blue one!—way, way beyond your world!” That’s Brad Dourif, tripping the outer reaches of Planet Dennis Hopper, in Werner Herzog’s unclassifiable whatsit, a half-baked but oddly compelling space oddity. Dourif plays a vaguely pissed-off alien (anyone who’s seen David Lynch’s Dune knows this is fully within the actor’s grasp), haranguing Herzog’s camera with an endless monologue about Roswell, the CIA, the “sin” of raising pigs and anything else that crosses his mind.

Then suddenly, Herzog reveals his hidden ace: a surfeit of dazzling documentary footage. We see underwater swarms of sea anemones, early biplanes taking off and landing with a cute bounce, God’s-eye views from the Space Shuttle. The Wild Blue Yonder doesn’t make one whit of sense; it may not need to if you, like the several astronauts caught on film, can float along in zero-g plot conditions. The film never lacks for interest, especially when it amps up its unearthly cello score—raspy, keening harmonics by Ernst Reijsiger. Only in the context of Herzog’s talents does the movie disappoint; he’s come as close as any director to capturing a true sense of the metaphysical. Now he’s actually in the stratosphere and seems to have lost his way. (Opens Fri; IFC Center.) — Joshua Rothkopf

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