For those who only have perused the mini-guide, Richard Linklater's latest film, the dark comedy BERNIE is a late addition to the festival, screening once on Saturday, April 21st, at 9:30 pm at the Kabuki.
I went into this press preview knowing nothing about the life story of Bernie Tiede. I didn't even know this movie was based on a true story. So I enjoyed the mystery and discovery, and if you want to enjoy it the same way don't click here.
Bernie (Jack Black,) as we are told by countless people in semi-documentary style, is just the nicest guy to ever live in Carthage, Texas. He's an assistant funeral director and always makes sure to give people the nicest funerals possible. He even follows up with the widows and makes sure they're doing okay. They build up how nice he is so much that you know something has to give. For a good length of the movie I figured the big reveal would be Bernie is gay, and there is a part that discusses that--particularly district attorney Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey) who asserts that Bernie converted two previously straight men--but in general the people just think he's really, really nice.
Let's see, what else can I say without spoiling it (or going beyond the "capsule" reviews only rule?) Shirley MacLaine is great as a rich widow who everyone else thinks is a total bitch but Bernie manages to charm. But what I found most interesting was the statements of the townspeople (mostly actual Carthage residents) that gave it not only a semi-documentary feel but made the town gossip pool the main narrator.
Oh, and Jack Black's performance of 76 Trombones is worth the price of admission alone. Perfectly timed in the movie for maximum dark humor, and executed brilliantly.
Running Time: 99 minutes
My Total Minutes: 276,837