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2002 SIFF Movie Review: Bartleby

Posted by June 26th, 2003 No Comments »

Bartleby (2001)
Starring: Crispin Glover, David Paymer, Glenne Hedley, Joe Piscopo, Maury Chaykin, Seymour Cassel, Carrie Snodgress
Directed: Jonathan Parker
By Todd Bunker & Angie Bunker

TB: I really enjoyed this movie. The whole craziness of the office environment and co-worker insanity really carried through nicely from the short story onto the screen. Given that the story is from the late 1800s, I have to admit that Herman Melville’s tale of a passive-aggressive, troublesome worker and the complications he brings to his by-the-book boss was way ahead of his time. That, or people never really change.

AB: I also really liked this movie. Not only did I relate in a HUGE way to the office environment ennui, but I’m also a big Crispin Glover fan. I get more convinced each time I see one of his movies that he’s not really acting. This movie had amazing visuals too; everything in that 1950s/60s-style vivid color. Crispin’s character Bartleby was the only one not in Technicolor outfits, and with his pale visage he looked like he was shot in black and white.

TB: Yeah, Glover is one of those actors that are so distinct (in a generally weird way, for Glover) that he just has to show up and put his spin on the lines and you enjoy watching him. Typecast? Maybe. But fun to watch, nonetheless, and he doesn’t seem to mind or even care. The visuals were definitely part of the appeal of the movie. Since the content wasn’t all that out of ordinary, the director had to make do with the set and all those over the top co-workers of Bartleby’s. It almost felt like a play, really.

AB: Yes, you’re right, the story itself (boring office environment, disturbing co-workers, tedious tasks) is our everyday life. But Bartleby deals with his mind-numbing position in an extraordinary way most of us could only dream about. I wish I had the bravado to reply to my superior “I would prefer not to” every time I’m assigned a new, inane task.

TB: So he’s a working man’s hero, in a sort of whacked-out way? I agree with that. Did the work make him insane, or is he drawn to that insanely boring bureaucratic sort of work? Is there any other alternative? Probably something we all ask our self at one point or another. Shout outs to the fine supporting actors, all of whom we’ve seen in other movies/on TV before. I guess since they did most of the acting, you could call it an ensemble cast. Glover didn’t really seem to do or say much, rather was just an omnipotent presence. Would you like to add anything else?

AB: I would prefer not to.

TB: (8/10)

AB: (8/10)

More info on the SIFF

Official Bartleby website

Other SIFF films reviewed in this series:

Gaudi Afternoon
Sex, Shame & Tears
Hedwig and the Angry Inch

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