30th May2015

San Andreas (Film)

by timbaros

sanandreasThe eagerly-awaited film San Andreas is one of the worst scripted films in recent memory. It’s also a very frightening and almost realistic look at what could happen to California if a major earthquake takes place.

San Andreas, in case you didn’t know, is a fault line that runs roughly 801 miles through California. It’s a tectonic plate that, scientists confirm, will shift, hence causing a major earthquake in that region. The film San Andreas imagines this catastrophe, which practically ruins the state of California, first by earthquakes, and then by a massive tsunami. It’s bone-chilling yet stupid.

The film begins with a young woman driving along a cliff who is distracted by her cellphone. A rock slide takes place, causing her to drive off the cliff with the car nestling on the edge of some rocks, hanging by a thread. Swooping in is Ray Gaines (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), a Los Angeles Fire Department search and rescue helicopter pilot, who comes to the rescue with his team and saves the girl. It’s a metaphor for real events in his life; his youngest daughter drowned and he’s still feeling mega guilty about it. It was also an event that led to the breakup of his marriage to Emma (Carla Gugino), and led her into the arms of mega millionaire building developer Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffudd). Ray soon discovers that Emma will be moving in with Riddick, taking along their only daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario).

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Meanwhile, scientist Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) and his team discover a previously undetected fault line near Nevada’s Hoover dam. They go there to inspect it, and while they are there, on top and inside the dam, a major earthquake hits. Lawrence is sparred but a member of his team is killed while trying to save a young girl. This earthquake triggers the San Andreas fault line to become active, setting off a massive earthquake up and down the coast of California. Buildings shake violently then fall down, many people die by getting crushed, while Emma is dining at a posh restaurant (with Kylie Minogue). She phones Ray for help and is preposterously saved by him and his helicopter while the building underneath her is collapsing. They then go on a mission to find their daughter, who is in San Francisco with Riddick.

San Andreas then becomes not just a disaster movie but an unintentional comedy. In one scene, Blake asks Riddick why he never had any children. He points to a brochure of his buildings and says ‘these are my children.’ Also, in what can be described as the worst line in screen history, Ray tells Emma ‘It’s been awhile since I got you to second base’ after parachuting into San Francisco’s AT&T Baseball park after enduring death and destruction and also almost losing their lives. And it gets worse. The San Francisco skyline changes from scene to scene (and not just because some buildings fall down) – San Andreas gets worse and unbelievable as the characters continue to survive.

And when you think the characters (and yourself) have had enough, a Tsunami starts to form. Emma and Ray ride into the tsunami on a boat that literally pitches up vertically, only to be sucked under a massive cargo ship – and they survive. And most stupid of all is that, they actually do find their daughter, trapped inside a building with a young British man and his younger brother (both with posh British accents) – and they seem to be the only people who have survived in San Francisco. The filmmakers have obviously applied creative license to a real-world threat, but with a horrible script and unbelievable life and death situations, San Andreas is a fault that never should’ve woken up.

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28th May2015

McQueen (Theatre)

by timbaros

Lee Alexander McQueenFashion Designer Alexander McQueen committed suicide in February, 2010 at the age of 39. But his work and memory lives on, including in a new play simply called McQueen.

Stephen Wright plays (and looks just like) McQueen, who was one of the most celebrated UK fashion designers of our time. McQueen, though very successful, had a troubled life; drugs, depression, the suicide of his friend and muse Isabella Blow, who practically helped McQueen become the success that he was, and the death of his mother are some of the factors that probably led him to take his own life in his Central London flat on Feb. 11, 2010.

McQueen is written not as a play about his life but more about the journey McQueen took to build his career. The journey is brought on by fictional character Dahlia (Dianna Agron) – the idea taken from McQueen’s 2008 collection ‘The Girl Who Lived in the Tree.’ She’s basically a stalker who breaks into McQueen’s flat. He’s startled at first, but her childlike personality and beautiful looks and curvy body appeal to McQueen in a visual sense.

So McQueen and Dahlia travel through a few important milestones in McQueen’s life; the tailor shop where McQueen got his start and where, on the spot, he makes a dress for Dahlia. They go to his mother’s home, where she is upstairs in bed, sick. And McQueen gets to be reunited with the ghost that is Blow (a smashing Tracy-Ann Oberman), the woman who bought up all of McQueen’s first collection but who still wants to know why he didn’t take her with him to the top, and why did he leave her behind when it was she who made him what he was. In between these pit stops we are visually treated to very slow moving dancers who change the set and morph with, through and in between each other. Visually it’s stunning, you don’t realize the set is changing because the movements are so mesmerizing. But this doesn’t make up for the fact that McQueen the play is a bit too thin and doesn’t provide the theatregoer with a true celebration and story of McQueen’s life.

Wright is amazing as McQueen. In fact he looks exactly like McQueen did in his later years. Wright captures all of his mannerisms and idiosyncrasies, including the scene where he instantaneously creates a dress for Dahlia. It’s an excellent performance. Agron as Dahlia is given lots of soliloquy dialogue to recite – is she talking to McQueen, the audience, or to herself? And yes, she does recite, likes she’s reading from a teleprompter. Hers is not a great performance as she’s with the amazing Wright during the whole show. But Oberman practically steals the show from Wright in her all-too brief turn as Bow. It’s a showstopping performance, with Oberman dressed in a sexy negligee. Playwright James Phillips and Director John Caird have produced a play that is weak in biography but beautiful in its presentation, but we’re still left wanting to know more about McQueen and his life and his fashions. We will have to do with the V&A Museum’s Savage Beauty exhibition as well as the highly-acclaimed book about McQueen; Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin, by Andrew Wilson, as well as Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, by Dana Thomas.

McQueen is playing at the St. James Theatre until June 27th:

http://www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/theatre/mcqueen/

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25th May2015

The New Girlfriend (Film)

by timbaros

JSFFrancois Ozon is back with a film that follows the same winning formula of his previous films – quirky, sweet, funny and dramatic, and a bit off the wall.

In The New Girlfriend, we get best friends Laura (Insild Le Besco) and Claire (Anais Bemoustier). They grew up together, went to school together, and basically shared their lives together. Laura was the first to get married, to David (Romain Duris), and the first to have a baby. Claire eventually got married, to the very handsome Gilles (Raphael Personnaz). They both remained very very close after their marriages, but unfortunately Laura gets very sick. Claire makes a promise to Laura that she will look after her baby and David in case things take a turn for the worse. They do, as Laura passes away.

So Claire owns up to her promise, and a few days after the funeral she decides to go to David’s house to check up on him and the baby as she’s not heard from him. She enters the house via an unlocked front door and discovers David dressed as a woman! So in typical Ozon fashion, the plot takes a turn for the wacky as Claire accepts, and even encourages David to dress up as a woman, naming him Virginia, and even accompanying him on his first trip outside the house dressed as a woman. It’s a different type of relationship that develops between Claire and David. It’s a relationship not just between a man and a woman, but between two women. Their relationship takes a turn for the emotional and the sexual, and Claire is torn as to what to do. She has to make a decision, stay with Gilles, or start a new life with David and the baby.

Ozon, at the age of 47, has given us many memorable films, including 2012’s In The House and 2002’s 8 Women. His films are different, not mainstream, and he tend to include LGBT characters in them. And they almost always include twists to the storyline that are unexpected but provide for full entertainment. The New Girlfriend’s plot doesn’t stray far from this. It’s a film that, while relatively simple, engages us with characters who are interesting and a plot that is very different. And the actors, like in any other Ozon film, are in top form. Duris is superb and perfect as David/Virginia. He looks good as a man but perhaps even better dressed as a woman. Demoustier is perfect as Claire – the woman torn between feelings for her husband yet fascinated by this new ‘person’ in her life. And Personnaz is very good as Claire’s husband – he doesn’t have much to do, but he’s very good at it. The New Girlfriend is a fun movie that you will thoroughly enjoy.

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16th May2015

Cannes Film Festival (Film)

by timbaros

Exe_30x18_FDC15_72dpiThe 68th Cannes FIlm Festival has already begun, and here is a brief run down of some of the films that will be shown.

The glitz. The glamour. The red carpets. The very famous celebrities. The perfect weather. Yes, it’s time for the most glamorous event of the year – the Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off today.

As usual, there will be loads of parties, every night, taking place in every nook in cranny in Cannes, as well as on the boats that dock around the port. Parties also take place outside of Cannes, some at the ultra posh and expensive Hotel du Cap, a good distance away from Cannes. Every famous celebrity in the world will be attending these parties, with the women usually dripping in diamonds and the men dripping with women. Oh, let’s not forget about the films. Yes, it is a film festival after all, and not just an excuse to party (though there’s more of the later and less of the former). The line-up of films were announced in April and here are some of the highlights:

Opening night film

La Tête Haute (Emmanuelle Bercot, France) – starring the most glamourous French Actress that has ever lived – Catherine Deneuve – La Tête Haute (Standing Tall) is about a young juvenile delinquent as he comes of age. It’s a French film, how appropriate to open up this French film festival.

Closing night film

La Glace et le Ciel (Luc Jacquet, France) – Another French film, closing the festival, La Glace et le Ciel (Ice and the Sky) is by the director of 2006 Oscar winner for Best Documentary March of the Penguins (Luc Jacquet) and documents the scientific discoveries of French explorer Clause Lorius, who was an expert on Antartica and global warming before it became a hot topic.

Other films showing at the festival include:

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Carol (Todd Haynes, US-UK) – tells the simple story of a 1950’s department store clerk who falls for an older woman. This one stars the can’t miss Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, and is directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven).

The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece-UK-Ireland-Netherlands-France) – this film could win the award for the most far-fetched plot: In the future, single people have to find a partner within 45 days or are then transformed into animals and released into the woods. This one stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. With their very good lucks there is no doubt they will find a match, within one day no doubt.

Macbeth (Justin Kurzel, UK-France-US) – Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard star in Shakespeare’s greatest work . Directed by relative newcomer Justin Kurzel.

The Sea of Trees (Gus Van Sant, US) – Oscar winner and crowd favorite Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts star in Gus Van Sant’s film about a suicidal American who befriends a Japanese man (Ken Watanabe) lost in the forest near Mt. Fuji. No doubt McConaughey and Watts will look stunning together on the red carpet.

Sicario (Denis Villeneuve, US) – A young female agent (Emily Blunt) joins a secret CIA operation to take down a Mexican cartel. Also starring Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro.

The Valley of Love (Guillaume Nicloux, France) – Ex French citizen Gerard Depardieu (who was excellent in last year’s Welcome to New York) stars in this film about an estranged couple who go to Death Valley, California at the invitation of their son. Also stars Isabelle Huppert, another glamorous French actress.

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Youth (Paolo Sorrentino, Italy-France-Switzerland-UK) – Rachel Weisz (again) stars, alongside Michael Caine, Jane Fonda and Harvey Keitel about two men, one a composer, one a film director, who converse with fellow hotel guests and re-examine their lives and the lives of their children.

Inside Out – an animated film about a girl who moves to a new home but finds it hard to settle in. With the voices of Diane Lane, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling.

The Little Prince – another animated film, this one with the voices of James Franco, Rachel McAdams and Paul Rudd, about a pilot who crashes in the desert and meets a little boy from a distant planet.

Irrational Man – Woody Allen’s latest is about a tormented professor (Joaquin Phoenix) who finds the will to live when he commits an existential act. Also starring Emma Stone.

Mad Max: Fury Road – a continuation of the Max Max films from 1979 that starred Mel Gibson. This one stars Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult. Expect big box office for this one when it opens up in the U.S. and the UK on May 15th.

Amy – a documentary about the deceased music star Amy Winehouse, which has been critised by her father Mitch Winehouse.

Other British stars to have their films screened at the festival include Emily Blunt in Denis Villenueve’s crime drama SIcario, Toby Jones and Shirley Henderson in Il Racconto Dei Racconti (Tale of Tales), and Tim Roth and Rachel Pickup in Chronic.

Dozens and dozens of other films, all from around the world, will be shown at the festival – which is the most famous and best-attended film festival in the world. It’s also the most glamorous, and many of the films have their premiere here, with film stars in attendance, walking up the steps at the Palais des Festivals on the red carpet with hundreds of papprazi taking photos of their every move. There are also midnight screenings, short films, screenings on the beach (which is about the only event non-acrredited people can attend), the Marche du Film (which is the festival’s marketplace) and the Cinefondation selection – which targets film schools.

This is the festival’s 68th year, and the judges for this year are filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, Spanish actress Rossy de Palma, French actress Sophie Marceau, Sienna Miller, and Malian singer and songwriter Rokia Traore. What an eclectic bunch.

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16th May2015

Carrie the Musical (Theatre)

by timbaros

Evelyn Hoskins as Carrie and Greg Miller Burns as Tommy in CARRIE - THE MUSICAL. Photo Credit Claire BilyardA musical adaptation of Stephen King’s supernatural novel Carrie, which was a hit 1976 film, has just opened, and it’s very good!

It’s hard to believe that music could be used effectively to tell the story of Carrie White, a high school student who’s picked on by her fellow classmates. But the songs in the show work, telling the tale of this strange young woman, who lacks self-confidence and has an overprotective and very religious mother, helped by a super-talented cast who look like they have just stepped out of the pages of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue.

Evelyn Hoskins, in the role that made Sissy Spacek a star (as well as receiving an Oscar nomination for her performance) plays White. Timid, meak, and small in stature, she’s not like the rest of the girls in her school.

Carrie the Musical, told in narrative form by one of the girls who survives the climactic ending, opens (as does the film) with Carrie experiencing her first period in the gym showers. She has no idea what is happening to her body, and this gives her female classmates the opportunity to ridicule her, and to call her names, including Scary White. Carrie is angry about this, and uses her supernatural powers to make the lightbulbs explode. Meanwhile, one of the girls videotapes it and soon enough the other students are watching it on their mobile phones.

The female classmates are led by Chris (Gabriella Williams). She’s mean, evil, yet glamorous and very popular. She’s got a ‘thing’ for teasing Carrie, and the rest of her friends follow suit. Carrie is taken under the wing of gym teacher Ms. Gardner (Jodie Jacobs), who makes the girls reluctantly apologize to Carrie. All but Chris apologizes, so Ms. Gardner bans her from the upcoming prom. Chris vows to get even with Carrie. Meanwhile Sue (Sarah McNicholas) feels sorry for Carrie, and feels bad for making fun of her in the locker room. So she asks her boyfriend Tommy (Greg Miller-Burns) to take Carrie to the prom. At first he says no, but then agrees to take her after Carrie is inspired by a poem he had written that he read aloud in class, which is one of the shows most poignant scenes.

Carrie’s mom (Kim Criswell), just about treats her daughter like a small child, not listening to her but praying for her sins and singing religious songs. She’s fanatical yet motherly in a creepy kind of way.

So Tommy asks Carrie to the prom, and she says yes, much to the utter dismay of her mother. There’s no surprise what takes place at the prom if you’ve already seen the film or read the book. Carrie and Tommy go to the prom and Carrie gets blood dumped on her as they stand on stage after being voted Prom King and Queen (with the vote being manipulated by Chris’s gang of girls). Carrie uses her powers to cause mayhem, death, and destruction, and it’s all expertly executed by the cast and crew of the show.

Hoskins is perfect as Carrie. Though while at times her singing is reminiscent of a watching a high school musical, she really comes into her own as the show proceeds, especially after showing some real emotion when Tommy asks her to the prom. As her mom, Criswell is superb. She’s Piper Laurie (who played the mother in the film) with pipes, especially when singing ‘ When There’s No One.’ Williams is fantastic as well. She’s the bully, yet she’s also the beauty. Carrie is William’s professional debut. But Miller-Burns is the standout among the cast. As the young man who takes Carrie to the prom, we see a sparkle in his eye, a richness and emotion to his voice, and he’s the perfect actor to play Tommy, the man every boy wants to be like and the man every girl wants to be with.

The stage becomes, from one minute, the locker room, then a class room, then Carrie’s dining room, to the finale – the school’s gymnasium where the prom is held. The dumping of the blood on Carrie’s head and the mayhem that follows is superbly executed, and extremely intense. Director and Choreographer Gary Lloyd has done an amazing job in putting together this production. Carrie the Musical, with music by Michael Gore and Lyrics by Dean Pitchford (of Fame fame), was a big flop when it debuted on Broadway in 1988 and subsequently in an Off-Broadway production in 2012. But with it’s London debut the show looks ready to hit the West End. Let’s hope it does, with the same cast and crew – it’s bound to be a hit.

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12th May2015

The Beat Beneath My Feet (Film)

by timbaros

The-Beat-Beneath-My-Feet-_26C0493-3_960x612The Beat Beneath My Feet is a film about a faded rock star living beneath an aspiring musician/student in an East London council estate. It’s also one of the best original films of the year.

Newcomer Nicholas Galitzine plays Tom, a nerdy student who gets pushed around by the other students at his school, including the girls. Tom, who lives with his mom Mary (Lisa Dillon), loves music, so much so that he’s wants to enter the battle of the bands competition at his school. At around the same time, washed up American musician Max Stone (played by a very good Luke Perry), moves in downstairs from Lisa and Tom’s flat. Max has the look of a faded rock star – unshaven and unkempt – he is no longer the rock star he used to be. He’s depressed because his young son, many years ago, fell into a swimming pool and died. So Max is guilt-ridden, depressed, almost never leaves his flat, and is in hiding (and assumed dead). And he plays music as loud as possible, during the day and into the night. Mary and Tom knock on his door to ask him to turn down the music several times, but Max just ignores them. Mary even calls the council to ask them to step in, but they are no help. Max’s music is so loud that Mary and Tom’s flat practically shakes. Tom, however, discovers who Max really is. And as Tom is interested in being a musician, much to his mom’s dismay, he’s intent on meeting the downstairs celebrity rock star.

It’s not easy. Max has no desire to let anyone into his flat, much less into his life. But Tom perseveres slowly, slowly enough to win Max’s trust. And soon enough, they form a bond for their love of music. Even Mary takes a fancy to him and invites him over for dinner. But Mary’s wish is for her son to join the church choir, and not to take the path her ex-husband took – that of a wanna-be musician who’s got nothing. Tom’s father is so unreliable that when Tom gives him money to buy him an amp, he runs off to Paris with his girlfriend.

Max continues to teach Tom music. So much so that they sit on their roof and sing, and record a song together. The song goes viral and it’s then that Max is exposed and his secret is revealed – he’s in hiding from the authorities for tax evasion. He runs away and Tom is left on his own, losing his mentor, losing his friend, and losing his interest in music. But he’s determined to go through the battle of the bands contest, even though a fellow contestant has ripped off his song from the video. Will Tom be able to go through the performance? Will he get his confidence back? Will Max show up and turn himself in to the authorities?

The Beat Beneath my Feet is a fantastic movie. It’s got the look and feel of an In-Betweeners episode, but in this film it is Galitzine who takes the spotlight. Galitzine, in his debut film performance, is very good, and also sings all the songs in the film. Galitzine masterly plays Tom through his ups and downs throughout the film, including scenes of him cutting his wrist. Perry, whose last film performance was in 2013’s little seen Red Wing, ups his acting credibitily in this film. He looks and acts like an ageing rock star – his Beverly Hills 90210 days are way behind him. And The chemistry between Galitzine and Perry is palpable, Max as a mentor to the young and innocent Tom. The Wind Beneath My Feet uniquely, expertly, and originally uses animation in some of it’s musical scenes, to fantastic effect. “The Devil Cheated Me” is the most memorable – Galizitine in the backseat with the Devil driving him down a darkened highway through Las Vegas, and “The Dream” with Galzitine performing in Max’s living room, which morphs into a huge outdoor concert stage. Director John Williams and writer Michael Muller, in this British made film, have created an original and unique film, sure to be one of the year’s best, with a soundtrack by the amazing Galitzine to match. I plan to watch this film again, and to buy the soundtrack.

Watch The Devil Cheated Me Here:

The Beat Beneath My Feet opens in select theatres on Tuesday, May 12th, 2015.

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09th May2015

Phoenix – Film

by timbaros

PHOENIXPhoenix is a brutal story of a disfigured ex-concentration camp survivor who attempts to fit back into society, and to find out who betrayed her.

Nina Hoss is Nelly, a singer, is a 30-ish year old Jewish woman with willowy hair, slender body, and pale white skin. Nelly survived the horrors at Auschwitz, where she was shot in the face and disfigured beyond recognition. She is put into the care of surgeons who attempt to repair her face, though they tell her that she will never look like her previous self. Nelly, along with Lena, an employee of a Jewish agency and Nelly’s friend from pre-war days, helps her to settle back into society, and back into life, with the goal of leaving Germany and settling in a new land created specifically for the Jews, called Palestine. But Nelly wants to look for her husband, who she hears has survived the war. She’s told that he is alive and well and working at a carabet club called Phoenix.

So Nelly goes out, trepidly, and finds him working in the club, and she calls out to him by his name, Johnny, however, he tells her that his name is Johanne (played by Ronald Zehrfeld). He doesn’t recognize Nelly, even though she was his wife. But ironically he asks her to pretend to be his wife so that he can get access to her family’s fortune, as they all had perished in the camps, and he thinks Nelly did so as well. So Nelly goes along with his plan, where he makes her dress like Nelly, act like Nelly, and he even has her practice her handwriting to be just like Nelly’s. All he wants is her inheritance, and he’s willing to give her some money for her assistance. However, Nelly still’s not too sure if he was the one who gave her up to the Nazis, so she continues to go along with his plan to find out. It’s clear that Johannes has no idea Nelly is his wife and that he’s just in love with getting the inheritance. Nell eventually learns that him, and assorted other friends, had betrayed her during the war, gave her up to the Nazi’s, who eventually sent her to Auschwitz. Nelly then decides that no, she’s doesn’t want to go back to Johannes but that she will go along with his plan until the very end. And it’s at the very end of Phoenix that we really understand the true horrors of what Nelly went through, not just at Auschwitz but by her husband and friends betrayal.

Phoenix is based on an essay by Harun Karocki called ‘Return from the Ashes.’ Director and writer Christian Petzold has turned this essay into a remarkable film, that whilst may not be based on an actual person, might have happened to real life concentration camp survivors, what they endured in the camps, and their return to their communities. Hoss is perfect as Nelly. Her eyes appear to be hollow, we can only imagine what she’s been through, and what she is going through. The rest of the cast is very good, as is the production values of the film. At a short 98 minutes, Phoenix, in German with English subtitles, is a timely film to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It’s haunting and memorable.

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09th May2015

Rosewater – Film

by timbaros

RW_LM_20130810_0238.jpgIranian-born London journalist Maziar Bahari appeared in a skit on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show discussing spies. It was a skit that, a week later, would end in Bahari’s arrest by the Iranian authorities. His story is told in the new film Rosewater.

Bahari (played by Gael Garcia Bernal), was in Iran covering the 2009 election when he was interviewed by The Daily Show’s Jason Jones (who was dressed up as a spy). The interview, which took place in Tehran, was in The Daily Show’s comedic style of acerbic wit. In it Jones and Bahari discussed spies in Iran, and unfortunately the interview was seen by the Iranian authorities. Bahari was later arrested and imprisoned for 118 days, between June and October 2009.

Stewart, who has never written or directed a motion picture before (he wrote and directed Rosewater), has hosted The Daily Show since 1999. Stewart has written books, produced other television shows, and has hosted the Grammy and Academy Awards. But what made him want to venture into unchartered territory to write and direct his first motion picture? Perhaps he was feeling very guilty about Bahari’s arrest and imprisonment. Whatever the reason, Rosewater is a very good debut into the film world for Stewart.

In the beginning of Rosewater, we see Bahari in his London home being very affectionate to his pregnant wife Paola (Claire Foy). As a journalist, he’s about to go to Tehran to cover Iran’s 2009 election. He’s sent there by Newsweek, and since he is part Iranian, it’s a natural choice for him to go. On a fluke, he’s interviewed by The Daily Show, which leads to the drastic consequences. A week later, at his family’s home, he is arrested and sent to a Tehran prison where he is interrogated non-stop by a man who doesn’t give his name, but the movie calls him Rosewater (played by Kim Bodnia) because, according to the real Bahari, he smelled of Rosewater. Bahari is interrogated daily, Rosewater wants to know names of spies as he (and the government) is convinced that Bahari is not who he says he is – a journalist. So the film Rosewater focuses mostly on Bahari’s imprisonment, where he’s blindfolded, tortured, threatened with execution, and ordered to confess to being a spy on television. It’s disturbing to see Bahari getting beaten up – it’s almost a sure thing that he will never make it out of the Iranian prison system. But after 118 days, he is released, and he heads back to London to be with his wife and new baby. It’s, however, an anti-climactic ending as we are robbed of any emotional released-from-prison scenes – it’s just Bahari out of prison and on a plane back to London.

Garcia Bernal is a perfect choice to portray Bahari. Even though he is Mexican, he looks a bit Iranian – so the story is totally believable. It’s a role that most actors would’ve loved to play, but Garcia runs with it. But it’s not Garcia’s movie, it’s Stewart’s movie. He took 12 weeks off from The Daily Show to shoot the film, and it’s an impressive debut. Rosewater is dramatic, taut, well written and directed. And though the ending is a bit of a letdown (perhaps this is how Bahari wanted his release to be portrayed – quietly – as he still has family members who live in Tehran). But that’s a minor quibble for a film that tells a real life nightmare of a story of what one journalist went through when he was just doing his job.

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