|We call it "Pop" down here, y'all.|
It is set up like an old A&E episode of City Confidential (Renee and I loved that program), and even employs a very subtle, witty sleight of hand in direction and acting style that means our leads (Jack Black, Shirley Maclaine, Matthew McConaughy) seem more like Canadian talent reenacting these developments for a real-life crime show like City Confidential or Investigative Reports, or what have you.
Dick Pope's cinematography is perfect for this theme of subject matter, too. Gone are his sun kissed, lambent baths of gold, and the rich saturated colors used for his last two features, Happy-Go-Lucky (dir Mike Leigh) and Me & Orson Welles (also dir by Linklater). Pope has toned down the heat, and there is a grainy, cheap, dirty kind of air to the quality. Nothing looks affected or sexed up.
It is absolute genius to use the real citizens of Carthage, Texas, as witnesses, too. (Plus we get to meet Matthew McConaughy's real Mum. Swearing and smoking on a bench on the patio.) It is fantastic to see Linklater and McConaughy return to Texas; to see a plastic bottle of Big Red "pop" on McConaughy's courtroom desk, the accents, the beautiful witty colorful language, the blatant only in Texas prides and prejudices in full display. "Those folks have more tattoos than teeth, "; "The People's Republic of Austin,"; "Well, Jesus never married and he wore sandals, and Jesus wasn't like that, so, "; and, etc, ...
It is certainly Jack Black's finest performance, but Shirley Maclaine was great, also, and looked great, too. McConaughy was good and thankfully agreed to soft-pedal his hotness for the role. In fact, that was another great thing about this film. There are no hotties in this movie, no one looks like a Hollywood movie star, it is just a lot of real life East Texas folks, overweight, bad teeth, big hair, just regular very sweet God fearing honest folks.
(I said to Renee, as we sat down in the theater, "Gosh, I know, it is a Sunday matinee and all, but this film just opened. Look at this crowd. We are the youngest people here. This is the guy who made Slacker and Dazed and Confused!" Renee said, "Yeah, well, Richard Linklater isn't twenty-five years old any more, either." I love my Wife. She is so frickin' insightful and smart.)
Bernie is a great motion picture. And, along with Me & Orson Wells, that means Linklater is on a hell of a roll now. This film could be a bust. Me & Orson Welles was, so see it quickly. Our crowd really seemed to enjoy it, though, so maybe it will play for a good long time. They did make the typical reaction to a line talking about San Francisco, of course.
Ya gotta love civic pride, right?