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Showing posts from June, 2012


Richard Linklater's most impressive accomplishment with Bernie, his 14th (or so) full-length feature, might well be wrangling the outsized persona of Jack Black into a distinct, watchable character.  The success of this endeavor, beyond the considerable credit due to Mr. Black himself, may have something to do with the responsibility of portraying a living person.  That living person, Bernie Tiede, happens to be serving a life sentence in Texas.  In 1996, Tiede murdered his 81-year-old employer and companion, Marjorie Nugent.  Among images of the real-life principals of the case we see during the closing credits is a photo of Black meeting Tiede.  

At the outset of Bernie, there is the faux folksiness of a title card which reads, "What you're fixin' to see is a true story."  Given Mr. Linklater's typically impressive handling of actors, professional and amateur alike, as well as the gentle comedy which ensues, it's hard to say whether one should take that …

Gerhard Richter Painting

"We have to talk about the film," says the reluctant subject during a moment of frustration in Corinna Belz's documentary, Gerhard Richter Painting.  The filmmaker, whose voice is occasionally heard, clearly knows what talking about the film means.  It means, at least in that moment, that Richter has had enough of being observed trying to create large canvases of art in his stark, white studio, a place where neither the filmmaker nor her subject has any place to hide.  Belz responds indirectly to Richter's calmly-spoken imperative, asking questions to clarify the artist's process, not the validity of filming that process.  It works:  after a brief exchange Richter is settled enough to proceed with his work and allow the filming to continue.       
Had Gerhard Richter Painting proceeded no further from that relatively early roadblock, Ms. Belz's documentary would have had significant footage to its credit.  By that point, we have indeed seen the German artist…