April 28, 2012
Weekend Movie Pick: Jack Black In BERNIE!
By Anne M. Raso
Jack Black is in his finest hour since Shallow Hal and School Of Rock in Bernie, a film we here at themacwire.com consider the very best of 2012 (well, so far). You can call it a "gigolo comedy" but it's really unclear if the lead character--real life convicted murderer Bernie Tiede who is played by Black--is a nice guy or gigolo. His whole hometown seemed to love him, even after he murdered gal-pal Marjorie Nugent and put her body in a freezer in his garage. The speculation over whether Bernie's a good or bad guy is really what the film is about but what really makes it special is the fact that director Richard Linklater decided to use real townspeople of Carthage, Texas--where the crime occurred--to tell a lot of the story onscreen. It's like a documentary within a big budget film and this "method" works wonders and gives the audience lots of laughs!
In the film, Shirley MacLaine plays Mrs. Nugent (Bernie's love interest whose deceased husband Bernie overseas as assistant funeral director and then lives with), and Matthew McConaughey plays the town’s blustery real-life District Attorney, Danny Buck Davidson, who was determined to get to the bottom of the crime.
We were lucky enough to catch up with the affable JB at the New York press day for Bernie and he clearly enjoyed playing the character. He met with Tiede in jail a couple of times to research the role and they have corresponded via phone calls a couple of times since then. Linklater tried to set up a Bernie screening in the Texas penitentiary Tiede is incarcerated in, but it got denied by the prison board. Too bad! It would have been a cool place for both a screening AND a premiere!
Black remarked to us about visiting Tiede in jail and that he turned out to be just as he imagined him to be: "I was thankful that it reinforced what we had thought--you know, that he was this sweet, soft-spoken guy who was the most popular guy in prison just as he was the most popular guy in the small town of Carthage. That’s just who he is. He has a thing, I think, that he likes to be liked, you know--and maybe too much. I have the same thing. I like to be liked. If I get the feeling that someone is mad at me or doesn’t like me for some reason, I’ll try to win them over."
Black told us he was an honor to work with co-star MacLaine: "She’s had an incredible career, so it was intimidating at first but then she was very complimentary to me and made me feel like I was worthy to be in her presence and relaxed me by laughing at my stupid jokes. And we had fun."
Check Bernie out ASAP--it will be one of the most memorable movies of your life. It hits home on a lot of different levels--including the fact that very good and caring people can be VERY bad sometimes!
(Movie still courtesy Millennium Entertainment; headshot of Jack Black after our roundtable interview at the Four Seasons in NYC by Anne Raso.)