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DID YOU READ

Richard Linklater and Jack Black talk “Bernie” and a “School of Rock” sequel

bernie jack black

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By Jennifer Vineyard

A small-town funeral director kills the wealthiest widow around, stuffs her body in a freezer, and pretends she’s still alive so he can keep spending her money. Not only is that the plot of Richard Linklater’s latest comedy “Bernie” starring Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine, but it’s also a true story: Bernie Tiede is currently serving a life sentence in Texas for the murder of Marjorie Nugent, for which he’ll be eligible for parole in 2027.

But more than just ripping a story from the headlines, Linklater created the film as a fiction/documentary hybrid, in which the townspeople themselves help tell the story.

“I always thought of it as a drama with these locals as a kind of an East Texas Greek chorus, the way [the Warren Beatty film] ‘Reds’ has witnesses, too,” Linklater told IFC. “Other films do that, but a lot of this was just gossip, so it’s to tell the story via the gossips. In fact, they are played by a lot of real people from the area — the hairdresser, a neighbor, somebody who traveled with them, people who attended the church with them — but not all of them knew Bernie. Some of them just knew about it.”

“That would be a cool DVD feature,” Black said. “This person did know, this person didn’t know. It could be a game.”

The gossips have a unique spin on the murder because in the town of Carthage, Texas, Bernie was so incredibly popular, while Marjorie inspired new levels of hate — so much so that even after people knew about the murder, nobody wanted to blame Bernie for the crime, forcing the district attorney (played by Matthew McConaughey) to seek a change of venue for the trial. Matthew’s mom Kay even makes a cameo, playing one of the gossips who confronts the D.A.

“Can you tell by looking at her?” Black asked. “I didn’t know it was her, but she is one of my favorites. It really runs in the blood in that family. And you know, she’s really keen on getting something going, the two of us. We’re talking about doing some kind of side project. I don’t know if it’s going to be a movie or a band or what, but it’s going to be something. She’s got it.”

Because Bernie sang at church and funeral services, Black has quite a few gospel numbers in the film. “This felt like a musical to some degree,” Linklater said. It whetted the singer/actor’s appetite to put out a soundtrack of the material (“because the songs are so great, and I love singing the gospel”) as well as getting together with Linklater for that much-discussed “School of Rock” sequel.

“It’s not like this one had anything to do with that one, because music is the only thing they share,” Black said, “but really, I’d love to work with Rick again on ‘SOR’ or whatever.” Linklater, who was present, nodded yes. “That would have been a very awkward pause if he didn’t say yes!” Black laughed.

But when could that happen? After all, Mike White had a screenplay for the project at one point, but that idea seemed to have fizzled out.

“Whenever Tenacious D did interviews, people would ask us, ‘When is the next album?’ And we would just say, ‘Definitely the summer of 2012,’ as a joke, because it was so far away,” Black said. “But now, it is happening, and in that relative time frame, despite it being a fictitious date” (since “Rize of the Fenix” hit shelves May 15). “But I don’t see a movie happening for this one. I could see Tenacious D in an animated web series, having another adventure, but the union would frown upon Jack Black — sorry to use myself in the third person — they would frown upon first, second, and third person versions of myself, and fourth, on film. But the web series wouldn’t be until 2013.”

“School of Rock,” he said, wouldn’t be until 2020, because his “natural cycle” of working with Linklater is every eight years. “So look for us in 2020!” Black laughed.

“I feel lucky that after eight, nine years, we actually got to do this one,” Linklater said.

Linklater said he’s on a similar nine-year cycle with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, with whom he made the “Before Sunrise and “Before Sunset” films (and may still make a third in the series). “We’re calling it ‘More BS,'” he joked. “Or ‘Before Lunch.’ Nothing’s set it stone on that one yet, but it’s one of the least successful films ever made that spun sequels. How about ‘Before Breaking Dawn’?”

In the meantime, Linklater continues to shoot a few days a year with Hawke on a project alternately called “The 12 Year Project,” “Boyhood,” and “Growing Up,” in which the director chronicles a boy, played by Ellar Salmon, throughout his childhood (Hawke plays his father, and Patricia Arquette his mother). They’ve been shooting for ten years now, and Linklater estimates he’s got two more years left.

“That one is an intriguing process,” he said. “It’s a three day shoot, every year, at different times of the year. And we’re almost done.”

Chime in with your thoughts on this interview with Jack Black and Richard Linklater below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…