Comedy-Drama Based on Magazine Article
The Sunrise Theater launches its stellar lineup of July films with the charming production "Bernie," a comedy-drama crime film, loosely "docu-dramatic" and interspersed with nonfictionalized interviews.
The film is based on a 1998 Texas Monthly magazine article by Skip Hollandsworth, "Midnight in the Garden of East Texas," that chronicles the 1996 murder of 81-year-old millionaire Marjorie Nugent by her 39-year-old, employed close companion, who confessed to the murder.
"Bernie" will be shown from Thursday, July 5, through Monday, July 9, with shows on weekdays at 7:30 p.m. and weekends at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.
"Please note that there will be no Friday showing due to First Friday," says a spokesman.
The film is rated PG 13 and runs for 104 minutes.
This intriguing film, which one critic called "a dark comedy that's not entirely dark and not quite a comedy, either" opened to very good reviews.
The cast includes Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, Richard Robichaux, Shirley MacLaine, Brady Coleman and Rick Dial. It was directed by Richard Linklater, and co-written by Hollandsworth and Linklater.
The film is set in the tiny, rural town of Carthage, Texas, where assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) was one of the town's most beloved residents. He taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir and was always willing to lend a helping hand.
Everyone loved and appreciated Bernie, so it came as no surprise when he befriended Marjorie Nugent (Shirley McLaine), an affluent widow who was as well known for her sour attitude as her fortune.
Bernie frequently traveled with Marjorie and even managed her banking affairs. Marjorie quickly became fully dependent on Bernie and his generosity, and Bernie struggled to meet her increasing demands. Bernie continued to handle her affairs, and the townspeople went months without seeing Marjorie.
The people of Carthage were shocked when it was reported that Marjorie Nugent had been dead for some time, and Bernie Tiede was being charged with the murder.
John Anderson of New York Newsday calls Bernie "a triumph for Black and his director, Richard Linklater, both of whom straddle genres with competence, confidence and no shortage of charm.
Alynda Wheat of People writes that "Jack Black doesn't have to uncork his usual oddball mania to give the finest performance of his career. The story is insane enough."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone notes that Bernie is "one of the gentlest true-crime stories ever to find its way to celluloid ... no use trying to describe it. It's a one-of-a-kind inspiration. You will never feel closer to a convicted killer."
And Roger Ebert rates the film outstanding and "surely one of the performances of the year. I had to forget what I knew about Black. He creates this character out of thin air; it's like nothing he's done before."
The historic Sunrise Theater, located at 250 NW Broad St. in Southern Pines, is nonprofit.
Ticket prices are $7 and are only available at the box office prior to shows. Refreshments, including beer and wine, are available.
For information, call (910) 692-3611 or visit the website www.sunrisetheater.com.
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