This is the first feature film directed by Jon Stewart who is better known as the host of The Daily Show and one of our more brilliant satirists. Rosewater is the dramatization of the recent imprisonment and torture of Iranian/Canadian journalist, Maziar Bahari. Bahari went to Iran as a journalist for Newsweek magazine and while there was arrested on the charge of being a spy. The connection to Jon Stewart was through the fact that The Daily Show did a segment on Iranian politics during the election of 2009. As part of that they did a comic interview with Bahari in which they asked him why he was spying in Iran. A clip of the interview was among the pieces of evidence the regime used to justify imprisoning Bahari. While farcical now it led to 6 months of torture for the journalist. The film is very powerful at portraying how isolation and fear can be used to torture and breakdown a victim. It is also however a story full of hope and ultimately a happy ending for Bahari. Stewart took several months off his TV show to direct this film in Jordan last summer and the result may result in an new career for Stewart who also wrote the script. The movie is highly recommended.
Timothy Spalding stars in this incredible story of the 19th century landscape painter, J.M.W. Turner. Turner was a true eccentric and iconoclast who had a remarkably successful career as a painter and made an incredible fortune. He was also a remarkable artist and creative genius who took landscape painting and particularly the use of light in new directions. His personal life was complicated with a very close relationship with his father, a broken marriage, two daughters he basically denied the existence of and an affair at the end of his life with a women he was deeply in love with. He himself, if the film is to be believed was a remarkably unlikeable individual. The movie is stunning. The cinematography is spectacular as Leigh clearly tries to compete on film with what Turner created on canvas. This film is hypnotic, well written and acted and wonderfully filmed. I will have trouble choosing the best movie I have seen this week but this one definitely rates as one of the best movies at this year’s festival.