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Archive for June, 2014

Movie: Bernie (2011)

“They’re making it out worse than it really is. He only shot her four times, not five.” – Townsperson

Bernie

Richard Linklater’s latest film doesn’t quite work for me. His careening style, adaptable as it is proficient, has made for some of my favorite films of the last 20 years. Here, however, things are a little… off. And that’s just perfect for Jack Black in the title role, careening splendidly around the screen as an asst. funeral director who truly is too good to be true. One of the joys of this film, besides exploring the Winesburg, Ohio– esque secret rivalries of a small town, is the way Linklater exposes documentary conventions to force the audience to continually re-examine and re-consider the story as they know it. Also, Matthew McConaughey is pretty terrific in one of the few exciting roles that keeps the story moving. As a Texas lawyer, the career MM once envisioned for himself before switching to film, he’s spot-on. I’m sure his dad would be proud.

On the other hand, what will likely make this a love/hate film is its quirky tone. A lot of folks seemed really refreshed by this, by Jack Black’s idiosyncratic performance, and the generally aimless pace of the feature. That sort of knowing sluggishness informs the entire film and at times genuinely kills the mood of the film. What begins as a mildly interesting character study devolves quickly as the shtick becomes tiresome. Indeed, being “in” on the hoax with Bernie is no more enjoyable than the tiresome process by which the townspeople find out.

Linklater provides fine, efficient filmmaking that effectively apes documentary setting, style, and feeling. In fact, a small surprise at the end credits really impressed me in its commitment to documentary form. Plenty of folks lauded this film for its quasi-gothic atmosphere, and Faulkner-esque depiction of the south as a place of languid, laconic characters. It’s no “Rose for Emily”, though, and no amount of funereal dressing can save this clunker from the grave.

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The dead grasshopper in my coffee had legs just like yours.

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(Oh, gosh. I made this video review, and will probably keep making them because I want to start working more in video during my spare time. It’ll be a good experiment. My job right now is in video editing, but I don’t actually have much in the way of video editing software at my home. Hence the really shoddy quality. Working on improving that, incidentally. Anyway, after years of trying to get people to make videos with me, I decided to just start making my own. I’ll take the trade-off of maybe making something really, genuinely, thoroughly terrible for the small win that is finally getting up the guts to make videos.)

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Scrap #3

Little girls in
airports with
stuffed giraffes
remind me of
my dad.

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Scrap #2

Someday I will learn my lesson.
That day is not today.

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Scrap #1

No one will ever
wear their hair
the way you
wear it

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Giving away a gift
in the spirit of
absence.

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