RATING |

Like an outsider artist working in video instead of paint or clay, Cybela Clare - the glamorous Rittenhouse Square resident and writer/director/star of Bird's Eye View - has transcended technical and narrative norms to deliver a far-out faux documentary fable about UFOs, government cover-ups, alien abductions, enemy clones, End of Days scenarios, and how to take a bubble bath with your pet cockatoo.

A wacky amalgam of Dan Brown and The X-Files, with an ardent Brigitte Bardot-ish animal rights agenda and a humorous appreciation for the cheesy production aesthetics of infomercials and porn, Bird's Eye View takes the viewer (not to mention the "remote viewers" cited in the film) from the tony precincts of Manhattan to the Cyclades Islands of Greece, from Iran to Tunisia to Montauk, Long Island.

Clare's Bird's Eye View is like some absurdist international spy thriller, strewn with conspiracy theorists, long-haired mystics, telepathic ETs, and code-breaking college professors. But it also plays like an autobiographical doc - with Clare as Cleo, a woman who communes with animals and makes comedy videos about interspecies intimacy. There are scolding, disapproving parental figures and flashbacks to an idyllic childhood interrupted by an incident with a flying saucer. ("My world would never be the same, and neither would I," Clare's Cleo recounts in breathier-than-Marilyn Monroe voice-over.)

Bird's Eye View begins with a quotation from Schopenhauer: "All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident." That's heady stuff, but for my money, the best lines come later, when Cleo is in imminent danger in an apartment building hallway, a psycho with a gun poised to pounce.

Her rescuer is the environmental scientist and "International University" professor Alex Hale (George Dudley). He approaches Cleo from behind, startling her.

"What are you doing here?" she exclaims.

"I'm here for our date," he says.

"What date?"

"Our date to save you from death's door."

Mind you, this scene takes place in front of a door. Later, the mysterious bearded monk Yanni (Yanni Posnakoff), whose role in this huggermugger is key, uses the expression killing two birds with one stone. And Cleo, of course, has two birds - Baby Rainbow and Spooky.

How brilliant is that?EndText

Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com.