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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Aug 22: Bernie


Aug 22: Bernie

"In small-town Texas, the local mortician strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow, though when he kills her, he goes to great lengths to create the illusion that she's alive."
Directed by: Richard Linklater, Rated: PG-13, 104 minutes

I'm going to go out on a very long limb and say that Bernie features one of the best performances of the year with Jack Black. Yes, the Jack Black of Tenacious D and Kung Fu Frickin' Panda. He gives out the best performance of his career and turns an otherwise forgettable movie into something worth watching. It's a black comedy to the extreme, incorporating the humor of a small town in the South and injecting it with a tad of McConaughy. And as crazy as parts of the story may seem, it's all based off true events. Not the kind of "true events" every horror movies these days are based off of either but genuine people that actually exist. 

As many of you may want to believe, this shit's not based in reality. 

Bernie is about Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), an assistant funeral director who's loved by everyone in his little town of Carthage, TX. He's genuinely pleasant, always giving, and does whatever he can for his small community. As a funeral director, he succeeds at every turn at comforting those around him when loved ones are lost and continues to make them feel that comfort well after the funeral. In Carthage lives Majorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), a woman who's all kinds of mean and refuses to be nice to anyone in her little community. After her widow dies, Bernie attempts to console her with many visits, bearing flowers and gifts. After multiple visits, he's welcomed into her home and the two begin a rather unusual friendship. What starts off as something joyous between the two turns into Bernie playing servant for the old hag. After months of playing man-servant, Bernie cracks and murders Majorie, shooting her four times in the back. He then continues his life as though she's still alive, canceling her appointments and even spending her money. As the mystery surrounding Majorie grows and the local police department, led by sheriff Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey), look into the case, Bernie's character is questioned. 

Is Bernie a Bible loving, choir singing, funeral directing... psychopath.?

Writer and director, Richard Linklater is a master of capturing the little nuances of the South, as the man is from Texas himself. With Bernie, he literally pulls the story of Bernie from the headlines and incorporates it with actual interviews with the people that knew him in real life. A lot of these townspeople are quite the characters themselves and in their brief moments on screen, steal the spotlight and inject the film with hilarious narrations and an honest look at the town and title character. This is a method of storytelling I've never seen in a film and it works wonders for the film, never distracting or taking anything away from it. It's also quite surprising to see how many of the Carthage citizens support Bernie, even after what he's done. Apparently the real Marjorie was quite the bitch and some people would have killed her themselves for just "five dollars". 

Learning the geography of Texas from a local can only bring a smile to your face

As you can imagine, I would highly recommend this little gem. Bernie danced around the festival circuit for quite some time and I can only imagine had it gotten a larger release, more people would have been able to see this great movie. I have always been a fan of Linklater and that was the strongest selling point of the movie for me, but after watching Bernie I can say that Jack Black is deserving of some recognition. He simply makes the film something worth watching and I would love to see more performances, like Bernie, from him. Do yourself a favor and rent this, it's worth every bit of your time and money. 

The Good:
a quirky story that's actually based in reality 
The Better:
hearing the stories of the actual townspeople who knew the real characters and having the town of Carthage recreated through their words
The Best:
Jack Black in the titular role, blending his usual humor (and lots of singing) with a naive, always loving Southern attitude that you can't help but love

Overall: 8.0/10


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At August 22, 2012 at 4:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you liked it, too! I loved the geography lesson.

At August 22, 2012 at 4:42 PM , Blogger Nick said...

All of the townspeople were perfect, but that guy was certainly one of the highlights.

At August 22, 2012 at 10:42 PM , Blogger TheVern said...

I have allways wanted to catch this but never got the chance to in theatres. will hopefully see this now that it's on redbox. Glad to see Linklatter and Black work again

At August 22, 2012 at 10:45 PM , Blogger Nick said...

I hate myself for forgetting School of Rock! So true though, I forget their pairing up again. Same with McConaughey!

At August 24, 2012 at 8:21 AM , Blogger Sati. said...

I really liked the movie and while it's certainl Black's best work I wasn't very impressed by his work, I mean he was good but for me McConaughey was the best out of three main stars. Those interviews with people in the city were hilarious.

At August 24, 2012 at 9:05 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Aw, I thought he was amazing. McConaughey was good, but just McConaughey lol. The interviews were certainly the best part.

At September 13, 2012 at 11:49 AM , Blogger Andy Watches Movies said...

Since I got this from Netflix I didn't get any special features, but I bet the making of this film is really interesting too...
Nice one, Nick!

At September 13, 2012 at 10:03 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yeah, I never saw the special features (even though I Redboxed it). But I can imagine that some special features are fun. I need to work on watching more of them.


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