Jack Black’s latest movie, “Bernie” is, well, interesting.  What makes it interesting is the way it turns your expectations upside down.  Based on a 1998 Atlantic Monthly article written by Skip Hollingsworth about a murder trial in Carthage, Texas, “Bernie” is part pseudo-documentary, part character study, part social commentary, part comedy, part courtroom drama, and part true crime story. The story is pretty straightforward.  Bernie Tiede is an outgoing, affable, but somewhat effete funeral director in the small town of Carthage.  He is well-loved by the entire community, exhibiting tender loving care for the bereaved families, leading the church choir, and directing the community theater.  Marjorie Nugent is a filthy rich and recently widowed woman at least twice Bernie’s age displaying all the social charm and local popularity of Ebenezer Scrooge.  The two polar opposites become close companions until Marjorie suddenly disappears.  Enter headline-grabbing district attorney Danny Buck, who prosecutes Bernie for Marjorie’s murder.  Well, that’s the basics.  What makes “Bernie” unique is its approach to telling this story.Interlaced with scenes of the plot unfolding are interviews with numerous colorful townspeople who are not shy about sharing their perspective on things.  While this is not a completely original methodology (used with great effect by Woody Allen in “Take the Money and Run” and Rob Reiner in “When Harry Met Sally”) it is still very effective.  Writer/Director Richard Linklater (“Me and Orson Welles,” “Fast Food Nation”)  cleverly uses this device to pull the viewer into the movie; it is as though the movie audience is listening in on some juicy tidbits of gossip, creating a sense of personal involvement and adding offbeat humor to what should be very serious business.  Some will contend that these common folk from east Texas are shown in a condescending manner, but others will find them entertaining and in a certain limited sense, as affirming the goodness of human nature.Jack Black (“The Holiday,” “Nacho Libre”) is at his best as Bernie.  He uses a precisely enunciated and highly effeminate tenor voice and combines it with an innocent yet smug facial expression and precise body movements to masterfully create the duality of Bernie Tiede.  In the opening scenes, Bernie is a laughable caricature; but as the plot advances, we see the complexities in the man, and are able to see him as those interviewed in the movie see him: both as a dangerous killer and as a nice guy who finds himself in a situation beyond his conscious control.Matthew McConaughey (“The Lincoln Lawyer”) portrays attention-seeking district attorney Danny Buck as an over-competitive self-righteous glory hound.  Shirley MacLaine (“Valentine’s Day,” “In Her Shoes”) is appropriately shrewish as the prune-faced Marjorie Nugent.  The bevy of supporting actors are all given moments to shine in their individual interviews and do not disappoint, dropping Texas colloquialisms like horse apples from an overfed mare and fulfilling “country” stereotypes of brash, larger-than-life characters with big teeth, big hair, and big stories to tell.What makes this movie work is the obvious affection the creative talents have for these people and their stories.  You get the sense that Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey in particular knew and loved people in real life who presented the same outward appearance as their characters.  Richard Linklater’s approach, emphasizing the nonjudgmental nature of these rural east Texas characters shows an affinity for the type of person shown.  It is a unique film that can revere its origins and parody them at the same time.  Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” achieved this, exhibiting a fondness for old horror movies while simultaneously spoofing them.  “Bernie” duplicates that feeling, laughing with, not at the human foibles depicted.