Calling All Earthlings (NR)

Documentary 74 min. June 29, 2018
By Rob Staeger
There isn't much marijuana use in Jonathan Berman's documentary Calling All Earthlings, but its elliptic, ramshackle structure could make one question the merits of legalization. The film skirts the edges of its story like a garrulous pothead, its interviews never quite getting to the point. It might help to know a little about the subject going in: In 1953, aviation engineer George Van Tassel claimed he had been visited by an alien who shared plans for the Integratron, a four-story cylindrical machine that would rejuvenate human cells and provide limitless free energy. Van Tassel purported to chanel messages from Venus and hosted desert UFO conferences to fund its construction near the edge of an Air Force base, which brought him to the attention of the FBI. Just as the machine was nearing completion, the story goes, Van Tassel (mysteriously?) died. Calling All Earthlings invites us to gawk at the crackpots in his wake, but delights in adding fuel to their conspiratorial fire. A busybody's letters to the FBI, for instance, are presented with fast-cut closeups of typewritten words, lending them a Beautiful Mind–style fervor. Van Tassel himself is the frustrating hole at the center; his actual channelings and conferences are given short shrift in favor of his followers' obsessions.
Jonathan Berman Ted Markland, Eric Burdon Freestyle Digital Media

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >