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|Index||110 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I rented this film on Rodgers, I have to say I had no idea what I was about to be watching. I figured, with Jack Black, it was going to be some kind of mockery of serial killing--Kind of like Luke Ricci's How to Be A Serial Killer (a really cool film, by the way). As it turned out, this southern small town tale (a true story, funny enough)had it's elements of comedy but maintained a dramatic story line that Black carried with surprising skill.Shirley McClain, minor role as she was, is solid as Black's wealthy widow lady friend who also happens to be crazy and shot four times in the back by Black's character when her "evilness" pushes him over the edge. Filmed like a mockumentray, it was slow-paced but engaging enough to keep me curious. Matthew McConaughey also stars as a nerdy-looking attorney with Bernie's name on his hit list. Probably most hilarious is the assorted townspeople--how even though Bernie shot an elderly woman four times in the back and continued to spend her money on the community, they rallied behind him and forgave him for the murder. Jack Black gives a performance that both shows off his flair for inhabiting character and giving this Jesus-loving, flamboyant mortician an offbeat portrayal. Quirky but pleasantly enjoyable, Bernie is definitely a treat for somebody looking for a decent film to sit back on the couch with a bowl of popcorn with. B+
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jack Black is absolutely outstanding as the title character
'Bernie'.'Bernie' is often very quirky and funny in the darkest of
ways. Director Richard Linklater has a really tough sell here, how does
one present a fictionalized account of a story so sensational and
eccentric as this bizarre real life murder? For the film to work we
don't really need to like Bernie but we have to believe a human being
is capable of such an abnormal level of niceness. Black excels here.
Never do we suspect the character of Bernie of entering this
questionable relationship with Marjorie Nugent based on money or
selfishness. Linklater and Black frame a story around a man who is just
too nice for his own good and snaps because of it. The story and
Black's performance seem like the stuff the breed of quirky country
tales are made of and I was struck to find out there really was a
Bernie Tiede. The fact that I laughed and was so engaged with Black is
a testament to his skills because the subject matter is extremely
morbid. The film raises questions that aren't answered by Black and his
performance and part of 'Bernie's charm is that these questions are
raised. 'Bernie' works best as the kind of film that takes a slice of
humanity and presents it to the world. It explores the depths of
weirdness human beings are capable of.
There are obviously more sinister implications Linklater could have gone to in his script but he wisely chooses not to. 'Bernie' is as much about the small town of Carthage as it is about it's title character. The fact that people were so taken in by this character is so fascinating. How could Marjorie Nugent be so mean spirited that people actually wished her confessed murderer to go free in spite of everything? Linklater interviews Carthage residents and they become a spiritual character in the story. Communities create their own morals and codes and Carthage was willing to warp theirs to serve Bernie Tiede because he was such a magnetic personality who seemed so damn nice. Linklater could have created a clearly motivated Bernie and yet he doesn't. He's quirky and nice and this exterior might be hiding something else. Linklater leaves it the populace of Carthage to dissect Bernie for us and since this story is so good it becomes sensationalized in the telling and re-tellings over the course of the film. It is just so entertaining and perplexing to see residents who would normally gobble a story like this up and sensationalized a murderer turn around and sensationalize the victim. Jack Black gives a performance where we could see this conceivably happen.
What a fun movie this was to watch, between the great performance of Jack Black as Bernie and the real life interviews with the people in Texas who knew the real Bernie, it made for a greatly entertaining and funny film. Mainstream films are more and more cliché and boring and repetitive, so its great to see some low key films like this come out and offer some originality and even obtain notable stars like Jack Black & Matthew McConaughey take part in a smaller budget film like this. As of right now the average rating on IMDb for this film is 6.8 and that is ridiculous! I Highly recommend this film if you are looking for something original and good to watch and are tired of big Hollywood blockbusters that are nothing memorable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jack Black delivers probably the best performance of his entire career, as he teams up with his "School of Rock" director Richard Linklater, in the dark comedy "Bernie", a quirky comedy-drama based on an actual murder that occurred in 1996 Carthage, East Texas. Although this movie has a few minor gripes, "Bernie" is one of the more better films of the year. Jack Black plays the title character, Bernie Tiede, a funeral director loved by all residents of Carthage, and seems to be the nicest guy to everyone in town. Now, we are introduced to the meanest woman in town, Marjorie Nujent, a mean-spirited widower, played perfectly by Shirley MaClaine. Bernie, being the nice guy that he is, decides to comfort Marjorie by being a loyal friend, by traveling the world together, and always hang out with one another. But it's years later that Bernie feels more like Marjorie's personal slave, instead of a friend. Marjorie starts to become overly obsessive over Bernie, forcing him to become her servant to pick out her clothes, shoot armadillos in her yard, cut her nails, and even trim her chin hairs. As much as he would rather attend in town gatherings, annual concerts, and befriending the elderly, he is trapped in a world of torture with one vicious old woman. Now, watch out, here comes a big...SPOILER ALERT! Bernie has realized he's had enough of the torture, and ends up murdering Marjorie, shooting her four times in the back. Feeling bad about the murder, Bernie must try his best to hide the fact that Marjorie is dead, without being caught by the local district attorney, portrayed in a surprisingly excellent performance provided by Matthew McConaughey. Half of this movie feels like a documentary where we get interviews with the actual residents from Carthage, and the other half is the cast re-enacting the story. For this being a movie based on an actual event, we don't usually see something like this, so I have to congratulate this movie for being totally unique in this type of delivery. Director Richard Linklater has clearly made a competent motion picture. The writing is crisp and invigorating, the directing is unique, the tone is great, and the realism of it all is told perfectly. As for the performances, Jack Black takes a break from his usual type-casted raunchy comedies, and brings a more serious and dramatic performance to the screen. This movie is easily the highlight of his career. Shirley MaClaine is still really great in her role, but at the same time, she didn't feel used a lot in this movie, than I thought she would be. Although delivered some screen-time, Matthew McConaughey finally delivers an excellent and wise-cracking performance, where this time, he's not type-casted as the hip ladies' man, and now he's a serious district attorney hoping to crack the case of this unusual mystery. Speaking of which, the movie hardly contains any mystery or drama to keep up with the suspense of wondering what will happen next. Since this is based on a true event, the audience can already guess and visualize what will happen now. Overall, "Bernie" could have been nothing but a dark comedy "gimmick", but it turns out that with it's interesting characters and well-told plot, "Bernie" is both an entertaining and interesting motion picture. "Bernie", in my review, "interestingly captivating entertainment, if flawed".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just want to say that this is more of a drama than a comedy, so don't expect non-stop laughs or anything like that. I started watching this expecting a comedy and I got a few light chuckles, but as the movie went on I realized that this was more of a drama. Jack Black does a good job as Bernie and he should do more roles like this. I really cared about his character since I could understand why he wanted to kill his wife, but after he does I feel the same way he does. I actually did not know that this was a true story until the movie mentioned it at the end. One of the things I didn't like about this movie was Matthew McConaughey's performance. I didn't think he did a good job and I felt that they could've done the whole movie without him. Other than that it's a good movie and it's defiantly in the top 10 of best films this year.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With Jack Black, I never know what to expect. He plays the same
character over and over with "Tenacious D" and "School of Rock." He
plays an evil maniac in "King Kong" which was a little different from
other parts he has played. He was hilarious in "Year One" playing off
the sweet Michael Cera. In "The Holiday," Black departs from his
usually crude, brattiness to surprise us with a courtly romantic lead.
Black normally does not show much range, and his box office figures
show that he does not need range.
"Bernie" was a big surprise. Black breaks out into new territory. The story involves a closeted gay man living in a small Texas town where he works as the assistant funeral director. Based on a real life Bernie, the story is made in documentary style with filmed interviews. The people of the community discuss Bernie, after something terrible has happened.
Most of the people in the community love Bernie and his huge contribution to community life. Their affection for him is in contrast to his conviction for killing an elderly woman played by Shirley MacLaine.
In Texas, some people need killing, and the Shirley MacLaine character is one of them.
Many of the other characters are plucked from the small town, making the dialogue and the accents perfect.
Very funny movie. Great cast.
This is a great film. I got to see it last week in Austin, and let me
tell you, there was never a better crowd to see it with. I'm sure it
isn't for everyone, but I can't imagine who. As someone who has spent 6
years in Texas now, let me tell you the characters are just incredible.
I've never seen small town personalities captured like this ever
before. Where a lot of reviewers get mixed up in trashing the interview
clips, I love them. I can think of people by name who closely resemble
all the characters.
The movie tells a good story, and the actors/tresses make it into a fantastic story. You don't get to see films like this very often, so go and see it. If you're expecting school of rock, stay home and watch it again for the umpteenth time. If you want to go see a great film, go and see this one. Just great, or as Bernie would say, fabulous.
Jack Black is at his best in these types of roles. Matthew McConahey is fantastic as his nemesis. This was an excellent film with a great ensemble cast and the local "townspeople" make this movie. I haven't experienced such a broad range of emotions at a film for awhile (laughing out load, sadness, etc.). I will undoubtedly see this again as once you get through the movie it's hard to believe it's based on a true story. It's an art-house film with appeal. This is one you have to sit and pay attention to because there are small details, facial expressions and knowing looks that have to be seen that advance the story. It's paced perfectly. Finally, the singing and music is very lovely. I knew Jack Black sang, but not with so much emotion as the film required. I highly recommend.
Richard Linklater reunites with his School of Rock star Jack Black, and
provided the latter with what would probably be his best film role to
date, without the need to go over the top in comedy, but having to rely
on his dramatic acting, and great singing voice. Yes you read that
right. Jack Black isn't always the comedian on film, and has a couple
of more serious roles under his belt which usually are quite
understated. Then there's his singing voice, put to good use here
singing soulful renditions of hymns given the nature of the job role of
his titular character.
What would transpire in the film would be larger than life instead, but in truth it's based on a real incident, about the circumstances behind a cold blooded murder that would be seen almost like a bade joke. No offence meant to the victim's relatives of course, as Bernie takes on what would be a docu-drama style, interviewing real people on their memory about the incident and their feelings toward Bernie Tiede, where in a small town community of Carthage, Texas, everyone presumably knows everyone else in consummate terms, truth, rumour or both.
Interspersed with these engaging talking head moments and interviews, are the fictional re- enactments of these scenes, or played out with drama or comedy just to make the presentation fresh despite having a documentary-like feel. And you have to salute Linklater's ability to extract plenty of honest emotions especially when talking about people the interviewees dislike, and to do so on camera. I would have rooted for more because these moments in the film made it what it is, and is akin to neighbourhood gossipy moments where one listens in to hear the latest on what goes on, only that we cannot add our two cents worth since it's not interactive.
Jack Black's Bernie is a character with good intentions. Trained as a mortician, and then becoming assistant funeral director, we learn a lot about his background given the focus on his early days in the profession. Linklater went for the morbid jugular with having Bernie dress up a corpse as an introduction to what he does, through an instructional session given to students, providing plenty of insights on the process that I didn't know about. He's good natured, from what we see and hear, until something within him snapped when he got a wee bit too friendly with town grouch Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) who coincidentally is one of the richest widows around.
The film doesn't go all out to paint Bernie as a gold digger, but I suppose he lived long enough to see himself become the villain, especially so when Marjorie's reach becomes all encompassing and stifling, monitoring every move Bernie makes, coupled with unreasonable demands that makes PMS handling look like a walk in the park. Shirley MacLaine plays this role to perfection, so much so that you'll grow to hate her, and maybe it's Linklater's intent to make the viewer sympathize and throw in support at Bernie's corner. MacLaine nails the irritating nature of the character, complete with passive-aggressive behaviour that makes claws on chalkboard more tolerable, and to watch her acting cute, just sends shivers.
While Matthew McConaugney probably overdid his Southern Drawl as the district attorney keen to nail Bernie and get to the truth, his hamming it up served as one of the highlights of the film, as do the real talking heads interviews conducted to give us all a little bit of a reality check of a very skewed modern day Robin Hood of sorts. Recommended for its unique perspective and presentation.
Greetings again from the darkness. It's 1996 in Carthage and scandal
has hit smack dab in the middle of town square. That's rural east Texas
where everyone knows everything about everyone. Well almost everything
and almost everyone. Two years later, Skip Hollandsworth wrote an
article for Texas Monthly about the fascinating, too-strange-to-believe
story that shook this community. Now, 16 years after the murder,
Hollandsworth co-wrote a screenplay with director Richard Linklater and
they present a visual representation that allows us to wrap our heads
around the events.
Linklater is always an interesting filmmaker. His resume includes Dazed and Confused, and School of Rock. Here he re-teams with Jack Black, who stars at Bernie Tiede, the nicest man in Carthage. You need not take my word for it. Linklater interviews several actual Carthage residents who swear Bernie was the sweetest, most generous man they ever met. Some even state they will never believe he committed the murder ... despite his confession. Whatever you think of Mr. Black as an actor, his performance here is unlike any of his previous work. He is somehow subtle and believable while playing a real life over-the-top assistant funeral home director. His walk, speech pattern and mannerisms tell us all we need know about Bernie Tiede.
The basic story is that Bernie befriends the wealthiest, wickedest widow in town. They become very close as friends, travel partners and even live together. Bernie gains Marjorie Nugent's trust and is eventually in charge of her finances and written in as her sole beneficiary. What makes this odd? Well, Bernie is 38. Marjorie (played by Shirley MacLaine) is 81. Oh, and he is gay. This odd arrangement somehow is accepted in this community for one reason ... he is just so a nice man! He truly is nice. Right up until the point where he's not so nice.
This is one of those movies where the links are stronger than the chain. Black's performance is stellar and worth the price of admission. Equally entertaining are the "interviews" with the local townspeople. And adding intrigue to all of that is the best ever performance from Matthew McConaughey as local DA, Danny Buck Davidson. Those three elements make this oddball movie a sight to behold. There is humor to make us laugh and oddity to raise eyebrows.
The downside is that the docudrama approach actually takes away from what should have been the key aspects of the story. More screen time watching the relationship between Bernie and Marjorie could have proved enlightening. Instead, the development is reduced to snapshots of vacations and a snippet of a couples massage. The dark elements are only hinted at until the shock of the deed.
Movies based on truth are all the more enticing when the characters are themselves quite interesting and different. That's certainly the case with Bernie Tiede, Danny Buck Davidson, and the locals in Carthage. For a taste of small town East Texas living and dying, questionable morals, battles between legalities and religion, and the hypocrisy and clouded judgment that occurs when a nice guy gets dirty ... this is as good as it gets.
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