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Plot: In the tiny, rural town of Carthage, Texas, assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede was one of the town's most beloved residents. He taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir and was always willing to lend a helping hand. Everyone loved and appreciated Bernie, so it came as no surprise when he befriended Marjorie Nugent, an affluent widow who was as well known for her sour attitude as her fortune. Bernie frequently traveled with Marjorie and even managed her banking affairs. Marjorie quickly became fully dependent on Bernie and his generosity and Bernie struggled to meet her increasing demands. Bernie continued to handle her affairs, and the townspeople went months without seeing Marjorie. Runtime: 104 mins Release Date: 03 May 2011
I had the privilege of seeing this film in Austin last month. Mr. Linklater was among the thousands devastated by the fires in Bastrop county and with his hard work and help from Jack Black and crew they turned the screening into a fundraiser to help the fire victims. They raised over $155,000. It was a great event. The movie was the best part. If you live or have lived in a small town anywhere in America you'll 'get' this movie and you won't be able to stop laughing. If you're in Texas or you hate Texas, it'll be just that much better. The characters are real, the <more>
acting is superb. Jack is at the top of his game and Mathew did an outstanding job. He played his role right on the edge, always close to going over the top but never getting there. Shirley is a gem and acted like I've never seen her before. Thank you Richard for your film and your efforts in Bastrop. My farm survived, but too many friends lost everything. Oh, and thanks for letting me be in this film. Woohoo that's me at the end Ma!!
Last Friday a theater full of cinemaphiles in what one old codger in the film calls "the People's Republic of Austin" LOVED it! It was Jack Black's best performance in the most demanding role he's ever attempted. Shirley MacLain was brilliant in developing a complex character in what was almost a non-speaking role. Supporting players, the funeral director, the broker, the sheriff, were first rate - but the major character in the film is the Greek Chorus, dubbed "The Gossips" by director Linklater, comprised of a score of actors and local townspeople who <more>
narrate the reenactment of real events in a docudrama, combining interviews that have the look and feel of modern Reality TV with techniques that were used in the earliest silent films, like the use of title cards to indicate the passage of time and the shifting focus of the story. A brilliant job by Linklater in creating a noir comedy like "What's the Trouble With Harry?" while sustaining a clear trace of the human tragedy and sadness that underlies the story. WARNING: Don't miss the opening! It's a grabber!
Bernie delivers a story so crazy it has to be true (by rgblakey)
There are movies that come along that fall in the comedy category, but are based on series material so take a big risk at trying to make it work. Richard Linklater and Jack Black have reteamed up for Bernie bringing along Matthew McConaughey and Shirley MacLaine with them. This film is based on true events that are based on an unfunny concept, but is striving to deliver just that. Is it possible to have this cast and director together and not deliver a good movie or is there a reason it didn't get a wider release? Bernie follows the story of a beloved funeral director who befriended a <more>
widow known for being just the opposite with a sour attitude on life. After slowly taking over her affairs, she becomes fully dependent on him increasing her demands to almost unbelievable proportions. After the towns people do not see her for months her body is discovered and none other than Bernie is charged with the murder. This movie is crafted in a genius way that tells this unique dark funny tale as well as makes it feel almost like a documentary. Throughout the film there are testimonials with various townspeople that are really entertaining and become the center piece to making this film work. Jack Black brings the strange yet likable aspect to this weird little man to brilliant life with one of his best performances to date. Working side by side with Shirley MacLaine he held his own like a champ with both of them having some strange chemistry that just worked really well. McConaughey brought another lovable quirkiness to his character that worked so well. This is an interesting film that is really funny and so over the top that it sucks you in that this really happened.Bernie is one of those unique movies that just work on every level. It seemingly does what they are trying to do, both funny and dark without ever getting too deep into either aspect. Full of great characters, brilliant dialogue, and a story like no other, Bernie is a must see film for not only fans of the actors involved, but for everyone.http://www.examiner.com/movie-in-dallas/bobby-blakey
One of the best performances of Jack Black's career! (by natasha-bishop)
I saw the world premiere of "Bernie" last night at the Los Angeles Film Festival. I must confess, after Jack Black's run of "Year One", "Gulliver's Travels", and "Kung Fu Panda", I was starting to lose hope of ever seeing the "School of Rock" guy I fell in love with. When I heard Richard Linklater School of Rock and Jack Black were teaming up again, I felt a glimmer of hope. I am happy to report, I was not disappointed last night! Jack Black gives one of the best performances of his career in "Bernie." Shirley MacLaine was <more>
the icing on the cake and Matthew McConaughey was the cherry on top. I loved this movie! "Bernie" is based on the true story of Bernie Tiede, an assistant funeral director and general do-gooder, who confessed to killing Marjorie Nugent, a very rich and mean old lady. Bernie was a bit eccentric but beloved by his entire community of Carthage, Texas. Jack Black nails this performance. He really shows us what he is capable of as an actor. It was such a pleasure to watch him transform into Bernie Tiede. Great moments of physical comedy and also some twisted, dark moments of catching a glimpse into Bernie's spiraling psyche. Shirley MacLaine was Marjorie Nugent who was known as a mean, bitter lady with no friends and a family who tried to sue her for her money. You can't go wrong with Shirley MacLaine â€“ she's just brilliant. The chemistry between MacLaine and Black was fantastic. I truly enjoyed watching them on the screen together. Even at the world premiere last night they had great chemistry in person. It seems like they truly loved working together on this film. Matthew McConaughey was great as the D.A. Danny Buck Davidson, the character didn't seem to be a huge stretch for him, but who cares â€“ he was great! I'm not sure when it is due to be released, but I will be recommending it to my friends when it hits theatres.
This was a surprisingly good movie. Director Richard Linklater blends semi-documentary style with dark comedy and tragic real-life events in an exceptional way. Based on the murder of a wealthy widow in Carthage Texas in 1996. This movie gives you an interesting glimpse into small town life and how the people there dealt with this unique situation. Jack Black proves he can act, Matthew McConaughy looked to be enjoying himself, and Shirley MacLaine, while not having much to do, is still a welcome addition to the cast. Linklater even uses real townsfolk to help narrate the story through their <more>
own recollections of the events. This is one of those independent films that is a must see.
One could technically label Bernie a docudrama, as it is definitely more than meets the eye in terms of bringing facts to the table. The film is intercut with segments featuring the townspeople of Carthage, Texas discussing their relationship with the real Bernie Tiede and how his cheery eccentricities rubbed off on the town. Some of them are clearly actors, one of them being Matthew McConaughey's mother, but many are authentic folk off the street. Linklater very early on breeds variety into a film with so many unique and cute subtleties that after a while, you contemplate what you may <more>
have missed. EnthusiasticallyTiede is an assistant funeral director in Carthage, and can't be more proud of what he does. He's the man who fixes up the dead to make them look sometimes better than they did alive. Bernie is notorious for connecting deeply with his customers who have come to him after the death of a loved one, and even manages to stay in contact with many of them long after the funeral, dropping by and even bringing them flowers occasionally. He's a genial, kind soul and effortlessly brightens everyone's day. Almost like that guy on the street, at the office, on the bus, or in the neighborhood you don't know personally, don't know their history, or quite possibly even know their name, but you make the humane nuance to wave or say hello to them frequently. Tiede is an ode to that person in your life.Bernie becomes friends with Marjorie Nugent MacLaine , a wealthy old widow, who is mean-spirited and, after occupying a certain disdain for him, gives into his cheeriness and they begin hanging out with each other. It isn't long before Bernie grows weary of Mrs. Nugent's browbeating comments and shoots her four times in the back. Devastated at what he has done out of pure anger, he manages to conceal the body for months before the district attorney Danny Buck played extremely well by McConaughey, whose character somewhat resembles Woody Harrelson's cold-blooded cop from Rampart , a cowboy-hatted, tall, and thin man always dapper, becomes suspicious of Bernie. He believes his nice appearance is just a put-on for the heartless deviant he really is.The character of Bernie is played by Jack Black, in a role that is beyond any description I can helpfully provide. His character needs to be seen. Black takes a character, whose story and personality is likely unknown to many people in 2012, and invents this kind, charismatic person in the blink of an eye. Bernie is perhaps the nicest movie character I have been greeted with this year, and even after he kills an old woman, it's hard to even have harsh feelings for the sap. What he did was wrong, but it has become apparent that when a film features a cold-blooded killer, we are robbed of backstory and reason as to why he is doing this or how he got here. We learn so much about Bernie and his life before the inevitable murder that we almost can't hate the man despite his unforgivable actions.Richard Linklater, who previously worked with Black in the impressive School of Rock, directs this black comedy with a serene bite, providing it with a rich script, and three lovable performances by three fine actors. Its deep south cinematography reminds me of the kind used in the drama Seven Days in Utopia, only more expressively used and healthier for the tone of the picture, not to mention the involving narrative carried throughout the excursion truly compliments the quiet rural nature of its setting. Bernie is one of the most enthusiastically quirky pictures of the year.Starring: Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and Matthew McConaughey. Directed by: Richard Linklater.
A dark comedy, "Bernie" is a mix of true crime and documentary. It's based on a true story and weaves a tale of a character both sympathetic and guilty, and supporting characters who are stubborn and compassionate. Grab your cowboy hats, belt buckles, and King James Bible because we are off to Carthage, Texas for a story about funerals, murder and homosexuality.Bernie Jack Black is an odd sort of fellow. He's a mortician who sends off the deceased from small town Texas to Heaven in style. Little old ladies love him; he goes to church, donates his time and money and is <more>
liked by everybody. He's quiet, but sings sweetly, and appears to be happy just being himself. Larger-than-life comedians take note of Black's subdued, character-enlightening and hilarious performance.Bernie meets wealthy widow Marjorie Shirley MacLaine and like with all little old ladies, he wants to make sure that she's properly cared for during this tough time. The difference is that this time she's trying to keep distance from his flirtations rather than the other way around. She's not nice, and the other residents are pretty sure there is only word that suitably describes her. She has one son and four grandkids; some of whom have attempted to sue her, and the others have actually sued her.Bernie and Marjorie have a need for each other; money, companionship, and who knows what else. Their relationship is simultaneously unclear and creepy. This is where the plot develops. Bernie is up to something and the townsfolk are either going to stand by their man or paint him as a criminal or homosexual, because in Carthage, Texas they're pretty much one in the same . Bernie's main adversary is District Attorney Danny Buck Matthew McConaughey . He's sure that Bernie is gay and he's also sure that Bernie is up to no good and will pay for whatever crime he has committed. McConaughey was extremely funny and was able to play into his Texas background but was completely different from anything he has done before. There's something special about an actor who can follow up the success of "Magic Mike" 2012 with something like this.Linklater has followed this true story to the letter, even using real town residents to introduce us to the character of Bernie. His genius comes through in the writing. The dialogue is unbelievably funny and he uses people's need to laugh rather than their commitment to empathy to get us to connect to this film. Considering how funny and enjoyable the rest of "Bernie" was, the ending seemed out of place. Upon further reflection, it was exactly the kind of jolt back to reality that was needed.
Morbidly Seriocomic True-Crime Story Gives Black an Ideal Role for His Quirky Persona (by EUyeshima)
Casting Jack Black in the title role of this 2012 dark comedy turns out to be a masterstroke on the part of director and co-screenwriter Richard Linklater because the real-life character of Bernie Tiede is a comically ambiguous figure not only sexually but more to the point, as a jovial child-man personality beloved by his small Texas town of Carthage while at the same time, strangely insistent in his constant presence in their lives. His pointed need for universal acceptance and unconditional love is what makes Bernie unique as a screen creation. It takes Black's oddly discomfiting <more>
screen persona to make the character work as a protagonist of closeted complexity, and in turn, he delivers his most accomplished screen work to date. No stranger to Texas-size guffaws intermingled with wry observations about human nature, the versatile Linklater "Before Sunrise/Sunset" tells this hard-to-believe, true-crime story with both morbid humor and surprising conviction.Based on a seriocomic 1998 Texas Monthly article by co-screenwriter Skip Hollandsworth, the plot revolves around the unlikely relationship between Bernie, a relentlessly thoughtful assistant funeral director, and Marjorie Nugent, recently widowed and one of the richest women in Carthage. As Bernie becomes indispensable to the fabric of the community with his acts of charitable kindness, his Broadway-style choir solos, and his gentlemanly way of comforting widows in the throes of their grief, the ever-scowling Marjorie is always ready for battle with not only the townsfolk who impede on her life but even her immediate family who can't stand her. Bernie, however, is able to breakthrough her icy veneer with his cheery persistence, and their relationship evolves into an unhealthy codependence to put it mildly. As Marjorie lavishes Bernie with expensive gifts and luxurious vacations, she grows increasingly manipulative in her need to control his every move to meet her every need.Even Bernie has his limits about what he is willing to do under her iron fist, and needless to say, consequences ensue. For all the dire consequences, Linklater keeps the mood buoyant with the insertion of intertitles to signal what question the movie will address next and with the brief interviews he includes with both actors and true residents of Carthage, all showing their unqualified support of Bernie through his burgeoning troubles. Much like Warren Beatty did in "Reds", Linklater uses them as a cumulative Greek chorus who on one hand, provide some of the film's biggest laughs, and on the other, illustrate just how myopic and oppressive a small town can be in its rumor mongering ways, so much so that Bernie's trial has to be moved fifty miles away in order to allow the light of objectivity to filter into the proceedings. As Bernie, Black finally has a multi-dimensional role that fits him perfectly, and I would be hard pressed to identify anyone else who could have played the character to the seriocomic depths he achieves here.Well into her seventh decade of movie stardom, Shirley MacLaine is not particularly challenged in portraying Marjorie's sourpuss nature since she's been playing variations on the same role since her turn as the ornery Ouisa in "Steel Magnolias". However, in one key scene, she lets loose all her insecurities that exposes the impenetrable cage in which she has put the increasingly desperate Bernie. Linklater favorite Matthew McConnaughey "Dazed and Confused" plays the showboating district attorney Danny Buck with gusto, although I wish he was reined in a bit more to provide more of a contrast to the other two principal actors. The movie is a fascinating meld of the Coen Brothers' "Fargo" and Hal Ashby's "Harold and Maude" with an unexpected dose of Christopher Guest's mockumentaries. While Linklater does not completely avoid making Carthage the object of ridicule, he has made a black comedy with surprising resonance when all is said and done, especially when you see the real Tiede in an archival video clip at the end.
Most entertaining movie of 2012 so far (by bobbobwhite)
Jack Black could not be surpassed in his spot-on perfect role as a smooth, calm, perfectly groomed and organized, sycophantic, servile, gay/asexual "assistant funeral director" in this small East TX community composed mostly of country oddballs and other distinctive rural folk that were hilarious in their own right. The story was based on real events, and real townspeople who knew the real Bernie were used for extras/characters, and some were so good that it was clear that they could have been real actors if they had chosen that direction instead of staying in Carthage, TX and <more>
knowing the real Bernie. They gave hilarious insights into Bernie and his story that otherwise would not have been so uniquely entertaining and effective if actors were used instead.Jack as Bernie exposed some serious singing/dancing chops too, as he not only was a meticulous funeral home star, he also starred in church and social activities that only someone who had his great talent to please and entertain in his heart could ever do. But, Bernie perhaps showed his greatest talent as the only person in town who could tolerate and even befriend Mrs. Nugent a really old Shirley MacLaine , the town's presiding meanest old bitch. After he slowly became irreplaceable to her by always agreeably doing her ridiculous bidding, she hired Bernie to travel the world with her on her dime and to be her personal manservant/slave, which sadly decomposed to a low point where the shocking and unbelievable event that caused Bernie's downfall was sure to happen.This hilarious mockumentary is making a serious surge to the head of the line for "Best Movie of 2012 So Far". Don't miss it.