What Is It? is a bewildering, unnerving, surreal, blackly comic film from the visionary mind of Crispin Glover that tells the inner and outer struggles of a young man facing villains and demons on multiple planes.
At a public records office, a seemingly normal boss has hired a new employee named Bartleby. Bartleby however, is eccentric and with each passing day, he begins to refuse his boss' orders which only gets worse. Eventually, the boss finds himself clueless as to what to do about Bartleby as he discovers even stranger things about him.Written by
When the boss's date is straddling him in his office, sometimes her hair is wrapped in a scarf and sometimes it's not. See more »
I don't drive.
You don't drive? Well, then how did you get here? Did you walk? There are no sidewalks!
[speaks into the intercom]
Vivian, can you take a bus here?
[speaking through the intercom]
Ah... yes. From my house I would take the 36 to the terminal in town. Then transfer there to the 80 and get off at the shopping center then catch the 48. There's only one - at 7:10 AM. The ride is roughly an hour and a half from the mall, so to get here by nine, I have to leave the house by 4:45. My car ...
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Special thanks to Christina, Walter and Tricia See more »
I loved this film and I cannot believe how so few critics liked it. What were they thinking? Apparently one critic thought since it was based on a short story that the film should be shorter. Of course, once one critic says its too long, every other critic has to agree. I guess David Mamet is an exception to the rule. Bartleby is not too long. It deserves it's running time so that we can absorb the story more closely. When we hear Bartleby repeat the same words: "I'd prefer not to" we are not given any explanation for the comment but yet it becomes extremely poignant. Eventually everyone in the office begins to use the word "prefer" and we see how Bartleby has affected the workplace like a disease. The film is very bizarre particularly because of the way the boss reacts to Bartleby. Instead of just firing the guy for not doing his job, he tries to reason with him. Eventually Barlteby gets in an even more bizarre predicament that has even more to do with just "prefering not to" work. The boss is obsessed with Bartleby and the film turns very Kafkaesque. We see a capitalist scenario where people topple on another for greed, power and respect. The film is based on the short story "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville. It was appropriate to mention the source because the story seems very relevant not only to our modern culture but also to what Melville went after writing Moby Dick. The film also has a wonderful score with a Theramin instrument and a brilliant cinematography.
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