Tag Archives: A Week at Bernie’s

A Week at Bernie’s: Bernie

Here we go with the last entry for A Week at Bernie’s. Massive thanks to all the guest bloggers who have helped out this week. All the articles have been fantastic and please make an effort to support their work. Don’t forget that there are double entries up for grabs for this post, so be sure to get involved.

mcIf you are a regular reader of this site, you will already know that I am a big fan of Bernie (2011), so much so that it was my number 4 film of last year. Sorry to ruin any suspense of whether I was a fan or not. This review will give me a chance to expand out upon my reasons for liking the film so much in more detail. I will be giving a spoiler so I can make it easier to discuss why I am such a big fan of the film. If you know anything about the film, then you will know what it is because it is the major plot point, that is revealed about halfway through. But if you are desperate to see the film without knowing anything of what goes on, then it is probably best to save this article for later.

Bernie is the based on fact tale of Bernie Tiede, played by Jack Black. Bernie is the assistant funeral director in the small Texas town of Carthage. After burying her husband, Bernie strikes up a friendship with the most hated woman in town, Marjorie Nugent played by Shirley MacLaine in a rare screen role. After a ‘honeymoon’ period, Marjorie becomes incredibly controlling of the kind natured Bernie, so much so, that he shoots her dead. Distraught at what he has done, Bernie hides her body in the freezer and goes on living for another 9 months before eventually being caught. It is an incredible story, even more incredible given it is based on a true story.

free bernie

There are a couple of things that really make the film for me. The first is the script and structure used by director Richard Linklater. Instead of a straight narrative, the film is presented in a sort of mockumentary style. Real townsfolk are used to give their opinions on Bernie himself and the case more broadly. On my first viewing I thought these were unscripted, but I actually think I was mistaken and they were scripted. Having said that though they feel so true to life. The Texan vernacular and raw spirit of these non-professional actors is intoxicating and elevates the film to another level. These gossiping townspeople also get across just how beloved Tiede was amongst all of the people of Carthage and their feelings about what came to befall him.

The second reason I love this film so much is the incredible performance by Jack Black. From the very first scene you can tell that it is a special performance and a wonderful transformation by an actor widely perceived (probably with a reasonable amount of merit) as only having one setting. What Black’s performance, in conjunction with the screenplay, achieves is that it presents a really three dimensional character, where a caricature could have so easily ended up coming through. There are so many nuances to the character of Bernie – great at his job, beloved by the whole town, closet homosexual, incredibly kind, a man of great faith, a talented musician – which provokes so much thought in the viewer. Much of this is in the script, but it is also down to Black. See his performance in the immediate aftermath of when he murders Marjorie. The immediate reaction is shock and horror at what he has done. Straight after he is panic stricken with what the reaction will be from his god. Finally his thoughts turn to how to get himself out of the hole he has created for himself. Jack Black conveys all of this really well, without another actor to spar with, just him and the camera.

The third and final aspect of the film that I love and will discuss is just how much it does leave the audience with to think about. Marjorie treats Bernie terribly in the film with many of her actions falling into the realm of what you would call domestic violence. She controls him financially and using great guilt, essentially rendering him a prisoner in the situation he finds himself in. Does that absolve Tiede of what it drove him to do? No, but it does give rise to pondering the nature of his crime and the nature of the justice that is metered out to him. Just how easily Bernie gets away with his crimes, also makes you wonder about the notion of trust and how we trust those that we think we know or should trust. It is a theme that has been presenting itself to me a lot lately, especially in Compliance (2012) which I will be reviewing soon, and to a lesser extent Serpico (1973). In this film, the fact that it is the town’s beloved Bernie that is doling out the excuses that explain Marjorie’s continued non-appearance means that his crime is able to go undetected for so long. No one really questions all of this, except the smarmy money-grubbing accountant, who is just chasing his commission. It is only through this level of (misguided?) trust that such a genuine, almost naive man was able to carry on his life after the murder for nine months so easily.

bern n marj

An exceptionally rendered, simultaneously darkly comic & touching, tale of a friendship that grows under strange circumstances and comes shuddering to a halt due to the abuse of one of the parties. The cast are all fantastic, but it is Jack Black who steals the show, in what is definitely not a ‘Jack Black film’. Check out this highly original flick if you have not already done so.

Longneck of Melbourne Bitter

Want to win a copy of Bernie thanks to Madman Entertainment? Check out the details here on how to enter.

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A Week at Bernie’s Trailer(s) for Your Weekend

Woah young Jack Black

Woah young Jack Black

My first thought for this post was to post a trailer for an upcoming Jack Black film. But turns out there are none. So, I thought I would watch and then share a bunch of trailers for Jack Black films that I have not yet seen. I have to admit, based on this evidence there are not too many Jack Black films that I haven’t seen that I am desperate to catch up on.

Anyways, rack up some competition entries by letting me know which of these five you have seen and what you thought of them. Who knows, there might be a Week at Bernie’s 2 in which case I will have to check some of these out.

Want to win a copy of Bernie thanks to Madman Entertainment? Check out the details here on how to enter.

Like what you read? Then please like Not Now I’m Drinking a Beer and Watching a Movie on facebook here.

A Week at Bernie’s Guest Post: Be Kind Rewind

I remember being so excited when I heard Jack Black and Mos Def were doing a comedy together, being a big fan of both men. Misty from the phenomenal Cinema Schminema (killer blog name) takes a look at the results.

Rewind poster

Be Kind Rewind (2008) features Jack Black doing what Jack Black does best – running around all crazy like in a feel good flick.  The unfortunate part is that the feel good part wears off relatively quickly and the movie goes the way of tedium.

Ghost BustersSo Jerry (Black) hangs out with his friend Mike (Mos Def) in the video store where Mike works.  Jerry’s kind of klutzy and kind of paranoid. After attempting to sabotage a nearby electrical substation, believing its energy to be melting his brain, Jerry becomes magnetized, and when he enters the store the next day, he inadvertently erases all the VHS tapes in the store.  Uh-oh!  Mike quickly discovers the disaster, and is further pressed when Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow), Mr. Fletcher’s friend, wants to rent Ghostbusters. To prevent her from reporting a problem to Mr. Fletcher, Mike comes up with an idea: as Miss Falewicz has never seen the movie, he proposes to recreate the film using himself and Jerry as the actors and cheap special effects hoping to fool her. They complete the movie just in time when another customer asks for Rush Hour 2. Mike and Jerry repeat their filming, enlisting the help of Alma (Melonie Diaz), a local woman, for some of the parts.  Soon word spreads of their epic remaking adventures and everyone in the neighborhood has a request.  Hilarity ensues.  Or something like that.

I mean, sure it’s fun at first watching Black and Def redo Ghostbusters with only themselves but as time passes the schtick gets old.  Then there’s another storyline about the video store being forced to move or go out of business and another storyline about a jazz musician and then Sigourney Weaver shows up as some government official claiming copyright infringement for all these remade flicks and proceeds to destroy them all with a bulldozer.  That was obviously the simplest way to go about destroying them…


Not the best Jack Black flick ever made and certainly nothing noteworthy happening here.  Mostly, after having watched I just want to gather up my friends and go remake some classic movies on the cheap.  Simple fun for a rainy day?

Verdict: Schooner of Carlton Draught

Want to win a copy of Bernie thanks to Madman Entertainment? Check out the details here on how to enter.

Misty is the creator and writer of the wonderful Cinema Schminema, a blog focusing on fantastic B Movies and the odd classic. Be sure to check it out and like her page on Facebook here.

A Week at Bernie’s: Kung Fu Panda

From the very first minute, two things are pretty clear about Kung Fu Panda (2008). First, the script delivers a wonderfully spot on pastiche and homage to classic kung fu film conventions. And secondly the voice of Po, the titular ass kicking panda, is one Jack Black was born to deliver.

Mr Black and creepy looking alter ego

Mr Black and creepy looking alter ego

I’m a real lover of both traditional animation and the more contemporary computer generated stuff. So it is so fantastic to see the lovingly created traditional animation prologue to this film, narrated by Black’s expressive voiceover. In just a couple of minutes, Po is established as a dreamer, who yearns to be a kung fu master like those he idealises. The one criticism I would make of the film is that from this point, it is quite slow establishing the narrative. It is a fantastic, traditional ‘warrior’ journey that the character of Po takes in the film. But for me, it just took a little too long for the conflict to pick up. I think this somewhat ponderous opening half is probably whilst I slightly prefer the sequel over this film. Obviously it had the advantage of not having to set all of this backstory up and I think the resultant higher pace means I prefer that film slightly, over this still really quite good one. But when the conflict does start, so does one of the other great joys of the film – the fight sequences. These are some of the best choreographed in recent memory. All of the characters have their own specific styles which actually manifest themselves in the battles. I can only assume that The Furious Five are very much inspired by the wonderful Five Deadly Venoms (1978) and the fight scenes are similarly influenced by the wondrous martial arts in that movie. They are also ‘shot’ (can you say shot when talking about animation?) with awesome usage of slow motion and freeze frames to emphasise the big blows. I think the filmmakers should have been applauded for all this, because instead of fight scenes just slapped together and tacked on the end, we get intricate chopstick and dumpling battles and other such awesomeness.

Po and masterIt is not often that I talk about performances when reviewing animated films. But Jack Black’s voice performance in this film is really wonderful. He brings so much enthusiasm to the role and uses the tonality of his voice well, but he is not endlessly over the top. Black is also able to convey the trials and tribulations that Po must face on his journey to possible greatness. I’m a big fan of Jack Black’s but he definitely gets too much for me sometimes. I think in many ways animation suits him for that reason. You still get a wonderfully bombastic comedic performance, but it is only channelled through one aspect of the film. The film looks decent enough. Even in just a couple of years though, animation has come a pretty long way. And I don’t think that Dreamworks have ever had the ambition to measure up to Pixar in the visual sense. But watching this film did get me to thinking about Dreamworks, and I think that overall they are actually a quite underrated animation outfit. Of course they (rightly) dwell in the shadow of Pixar. But we are pretty unlucky to have a crew putting out films the standard of Dreamworks, and have them still only be (at best) second best at it. I don’t think they get the credit they deserve though, for making films such as this one, Shrek (2001), Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011), Antz (1998), Megamind (2010), Puss in Boots (2011) and the Madagascar films.

Best. Merch. Ever.

Best. Merch. Ever.

Kung Fu Panda is a whole lot of fun and in a week celebrating the films of Jack Black, it is worth seeing for his turn as Po alone. The intricate and original fight sequences also definitely make this checking out, because they are just not what you would expect from a mainstream American animation film.

Verdict: Stubby of Reschs

Want to win a copy of Bernie thanks to Madman Entertainment? Check out the details here on how to enter.

Like what you read? Then please like Not Now I’m Drinking a Beer and Watching a Movie on facebook here.

A Week at Bernie’s: Intro and Competition

Jack Black, pulling a pretty Jack Blackesque face.

Jack Black, pulling a pretty Jack Blackesque face.

Jack Black is an actor that divides opinions sharply.  His schtick infuriates some whilst winning the hearts and minds of others. This week will be a celebration of Mr Black’s films, from the inspired to the erm… less so. This post included, there will be eight posts in all, including a bunch from a few really great guest bloggers. So you won’t be subjected to too much of my writing without respite. However, I will be kicking things off later today with a review of Kung Fu Panda (2008).

To make things even better, thanks to Madman Entertainment I have a copy of Jack Black’s latest film, the inspired Bernie which featured in my top 5 of 2012 last week, on DVD to give away. The way to win is similar to the last few competitions I have run, but I have included the details for you below in case you weren’t reading then. Be sure to enter as many times as you want. Entry is open to  you, no matter where in the world you live.

To enter, simply do the following:

  • ‘Like’ the post on Facebook for one entry.
  • Comment on the post on Facebook for two entries.
  • Share the post on Facebook for two entries.
  • Retweet the post on Twitter for two entries.
  • Like the post on this site for one entry.
  • Comment on the post on this site for two entries.

There will be double entries for the Bernie review that will close off A Week at Bernie’s on Saturday and entries will remain open until midnight on Thursday 17 January (Australian time). If you have any questions about the competition, ask me in the comments section or fire and email to drinkingbeerwatchingmovie@gmail.com.

To kick off some entries, tell me in the comments section your favourite and least favourite Jack Black flicks.

Like what you read? Then please like Not Now I’m Drinking a Beer and Watching a Movie on facebook here.