Monday, September 03, 2012

Bernie, or: Behind the "Pine Curtain"

Bernie (2011, DVD 2012), directed by Richard Linklater, based on Skip Hollandsworth's "Midnight in the Garden of East Texas" (Texas Monthly 1998), starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey. 

"Midnight in the Garden of East Texas"  

Marjorie Nugent was the richest widow in an eccentric town full of rich widows. Bernie Tiede was an assistant funeral home director who became her companion. When she disappeared, nobody seemed alarmed. When he confessed to killing her, nobody seemed outraged.  For the entire article, see:

Bernie is a good-hearted, lightly satiric but occasionally macabre indie film set behind the Pine Curtain of East Texas near the Louisiana borderlands. Jack Black has the title role and runs with it. The film is interspersed with interview style quips by inhabitants of Carthage, Texas, mostly in support of Bernie and derisive of a San Augustine, Texas, jury late in the game. Even in 2012, Carthage has about 7,000 people to San Augustine's 2,500. I think I've met a lot of the townspeople from both in passing -- or so it seems!

The film obliquely brings up questions about community and personal relationships. Also, wealth gone awry. Whenever a lot of excess money is involved, there's going to be trouble, especially with loners. I'm reminded not so much of Howard Hughes and Michael Jackson as of Doris Duke and her "manservant" Bernard Lafferty -- as portrayed in Bob Balaban's HBO film Bernard and Doris (2006-2007). Excessive wealth often unspools the inner weirdo, whether meek or nasty, I suppose. 

Today's Rune: Partnership.   

No comments: