Bartleby [2001]

Cult figure Crispin Glover lends his eerie presence to Bartleby, a modern adaptation of the classic short story "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville (author of Moby Dick). The unnamed manager of a public records firm (David Paymer), after receiving a commission from the city government, hires a new clerk--an inarticulate man named Bartleby (Glover), who proves to be an efficient filer. But gradually, Bartleby begins to withdraw from the world, first refusing to do additional tasks, then finally refusing to do any work at all--yet due to Bartleby's utterly passive means of refusal (he simply says, "I would prefer not to"), the manager feels incapable of firing him. The movie inconsistently captures the subtle tone of Melville's story, but at its best Bartleby becomes quietly mesmerizing and unsettling. Also featuring Glenne Headley, Seymour Cassel, Maury Chaykin, and Joe Piscopo. --Bret Fetzer

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