Combustible Celluloid
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With: Crispin Glover, David Paymer, Glenne Headly, Maury Chaykin, Joe Piscopo, Seymour Cassel, Carrie Snodgress, Dick Martin, Greta Danielle Newgren, Ken Murakami, Josh Kornbluth
Written by: Jonathan Parker, Catherine di Napoli, based on a story by Herman Melville
Directed by: Jonathan Parker
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual content
Running Time: 83
Date: 03/10/2001

Bartleby (2002)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

I Would Prefer Not To

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Bartleby (Crispin Glover) gets a job as an office clerk. At first he works very hard, but suddenly, when asked to perform a certain task, he merely replies, "I would prefer not to." It goes on to the point where Bartleby refuses to do anything at all -- simply standing and staring at an air conditioning vent. His behavior is never explained. As in Herman Melville's original 1856 story "Bartleby the Scrivener," Bartleby's boss (played in the film by David Paymer) narrates the tale. Making his feature debut, director Jonathan Parker updates the story to a modern-day office setting with a surreal edge, using computers to help create the strange office building, surrounded by a freeway and inaccessible by foot. The interiors are decorated with 1970s-inspired fashions, including a huge wall mural. It turns into a bone-dry comedy with enough weird touches to earn it a deserved cult status.

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