Wednesday, April 15, 2015


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Look behind you!  Ha, I'm kidding.  There's nothing behind you.

Rosewater – 3 out of 5

I’m a big fan of Jon Stewart and will miss him terribly when he leaves The Daily Show. When he left for a brief period to write and direct Rosewater, the adapted story of journalist Maziar Bahari being detained as a potential spy in Iran, I was sold and instantly intrigued due to nothing other than how I highly regard the man. Stewart is known for being an eloquent, intelligent, and, most of all, funny man that slings hysterical barbs at the news media. I harbored no illusions that this comedian would be making a film that was funny but I was pretty interested to see how this new director would bring to light the drama and horrors that Bahari went through.

Pictured:  Rose
Not Pictured:  Water...unless you count the dew droplets.

Elections are not a reason to riot...sports is the only
reason to riot.  Amirit, white people?
I kinda gave the synopsis away in that last paragraph but let me go into a little more detail…Maziar Bahari (Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal—who, you might recall if you’re a fan of my blog, played a character I wanted to see die in such a bad way in Blindness) is a Iranian-Canadian journalist who travels to his home country to cover the 2009 election. However, after he covers the protests that followed the election results and reported it, he is arrested and held in Evin Prison for 118 days. There, he is brutally interrogated by a driven man who is out to prove that Bahari is a spy trying to bring down Iran. All hope seems lost until he learns that the media is on his side and making his case public knowledge…

Normally I would put a joke here just doesn't feel right at all.

The story of Bahari is a pretty amazing one and it’s pretty fitting that Jon Stewart took the time to write and direct the film adaptation since the show he’s on indirectly caused a lot of Bahari’s problems (Bahari had been on a segment for the show and it was used as evidence during his interrogation to show that he was a spy—satire and humor is not a strong suit there, apparently). However, as interesting as the film is, I didn’t find it as moving as I hoped I would have.

Dammit, Jason Jones, I knew that someday your delightful humor would end
up hurting someone!

For being Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, he did a great job. He helped show that Bahari was just a normal guy who was scared to really get involved with any potential revolutionary actions in Iran (and it was sort of justified) and Stewart has some beautiful camera work that really highlights the horrors Bahari is going through. However, when I look at the film from an overall perspective, there isn’t much that stands out and is instantly attention-grabbing like a lot of other directors. Granted, this was Stewart’s first time directing a film and he has yet to establish a style, so I don’t really see this as a drawback. For what it is, Stewart crafted a great film.

I think the gate symbolizes...well...most likely a gate.

Additionally, Bernal is fantastic as Bahari. He really nailed the loss of hope and the sudden re-discovery of it while he was imprisoned. Bernal was capable of being charming and sympathetic and made for some touching moments.  He even was capable of making some mildly amusing moments when he is messing with his captor, who is played by Kim Bodnia—who, himself, was excellent in the film.

He tortured Bahari by making him watch Paul Blart and its sequel over and over again.

Bahari is actually in the Iranian version of Cash Cab.
I had a hard time really pinpointing what made this film resonate to a lesser extent than I was hoping for but, after some pondering, I realized the music might have been the culprit. While I felt all the appropriate emotions one is suppose to feel watching Bahari’s story, I didn’t feel those emotions swell the way I have in other films and this was mostly due to a soundtrack that wasn’t hitting all the right emotional notes. While the music is never terrible or distracting, it felt like it wasn’t pulling its weight to compliment the imagery on the screen. So, when Bahari is finally set free and is reunited with his family, it’s still an emotional moment that makes you have all the feels (as the kids say) but those feels weren’t cranked up to 11 because the music accompanying it was a little lacking.  Don't get me wrong, the music is very beautiful and I understand it is not meant to be a grandiose score like you would hear in an epic tale.  Bahari's story is a simple tale of the indomitable human spirit and the music is reflecting that to an extent with me but, in reality, the music just wasn't as complimentary as I thought it would have been.

But, dammit, it was still complimentary enough to make me cry!

In the end, that was really my only complaint about Rosewater. The only other issue would be a great lack of replay value. Usually, heavy dramas like this that are based on real-life events don’t rank highly with the "I’m bored, I’ll watch this movie again" category and this is no exception. Occasionally I will find myself watching a film like this again at some point in my life but other than possibly comparing it to the inevitable later works of Stewart, that will no doubt happen, I don’t think I will ever watch this film again anytime soon. However, that being said, the film is tremendously acted, has a great and poignant story, and is a fantastic first outing for Jon Stewart.

It was a little odd that my eyes got dry and watery when the reuniting scene happened, though.

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