Jon Stewart’s directorial debut Rosewater premiered at the Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day weekend to reportedly “some of the longest lines in Telluride history.” This is the movie that he was working on when he took last summer off, giving us the rise of John Oliver.
Rosewater tells the story of Maziar Bahari, a journalist who was working in Iran when The Daily Show sent Jason Jones to Tehran for a satirical video bit. Jones interviewed Bahari for one segment and, as with all Daily Show correspondent bits, it was really silly, and obviously a joke. But that wasn’t obvious to the Iranian government who proceeded to imprison and torture Bahari as a suspected spy. Stewart then wrote a screenplay based off of Bahari’s memoir, in a nice media-snake-eats-its-own-tale maneuver.
Reviews are coming out and it looks like people like it for the most part. Variety calls it an “alternately somber and darkly funny drama,” while Hitfix says it’s “a somewhat bumpy road for the first time filmmaker, but it’s surprisingly effective when it needs to be.” More than anything there’s entertainment journalists talking Oscar, it remains to be seen if it’s got that kind of clout, but it is being compared a lot to Best Picture winner Argo. Mercifully Scott Foundas thinks it’s like Argo, “minus the caper antics and flag waving of Ben Affleck’s populist Oscar winner.”
Personally, we hope it’s good, but not big enough that Stewart quits his day job. You can check the trailer out up top, but the clips Stewart showed on The Daily Show are better, highlighting the humor strangely missing from the trailer.