Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine (Written and directed by Richard Linklater; Castle Rock and Mandalay Pictures)
“Midnight in the Garden of East Texas” is what Skip Hollandsworth called his true-crime story published in Texas Monthly in 1998. And now Richard Linklater, the constantly surprising director of “Slacker,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Before Sunset,” “School of Rock,” “Fast Food Nation,” “A Scanner Darkly” and “Me and Orson Welles,” will bring his boldly sensitive touch to the off-center tale of Bernie Tiede, the playful Carthage, Texas undertaker who courted and, many say, murdered Marjorie Nugent, the town’s leading, drippingly wealthy citizen.
Bernie and Marjorie will undoubtedly make a smashing screen twosome, seeing as how they are being played by Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine. Black, of course, rolled into the positively big time with his mercurial, crazed performance as a musical guru to disadvantaged yet gifted kids in Linklater’s “School of Rock” (2003). As for MacLaine, she has been spotlighted as a flirty but soul-deep superstar under the direction of such Hollywood masters as Billy Wilder, Vincente Minnelli, Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler, Hal Ashby, Bob Fosse, Mike Nichols, James L. Brooks, Don Siegel, Robert Wise and George Marshall. So how could "Bernie" possibly bomb? Opening date to be announced Click here for my 2003 interview with Jack Black; click here for my 1977 interview with Shirley MacLaine.--Guy Flatley