1) ROSEWATER (R)
Comic Jon Stewart, the acclaimed host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” took a leave of absence from his popular series to work on his film directorial debut, “Rosewater." The drama tells the true story of Mazair Bahari, an Iranian journalist accused of being an American spy after appearing on…you guessed it...“The Daily Show.” Gael Garcia Bernal plays Bahari who was arrested and spent 118 harrowing days in a notorious Iranian prison. While there, a brutal interrogator who smelled of rosewater tormented him and forced him to make false confessions. The movie serves as a salute to journalists who take on great risks to bring us the news.
Bernal has a likable quality of naïveté that serves him well in this role and Stewart acquits himself nicely for his first time behind the camera. While the film lacks the pace and intensity that would have made it a truly riveting drama, “Rosewater” is a competent and heartfelt story told with sincerity. Incidentally, since Bhari was released from prison and the movie showed up a film festivals, Iranian authorities have claimed that the movie is part of a Zionist plot. Barhai fled the country, was tried in absentia and sentenced to 13 years in prison should he ever return.
Shawn says: "'Rosewater' is a nice start for Jon Stewart who delivers an interesting and thought-provoking film. It's not grand cinema but executed with enough verve that proves that the Comedy Central star is legit."
RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags
2) DUMB AND DUMBER TO (PG-13)
So, has the gross-out humor of "Dumb and Dumber" mellowed after 20 years? No, with "Dumb and Dumber To," it seems to have deteriorated. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels return as two of the cinemas most successful simpletons, but they flounder this time out. The Farrelly Brothers, the unapologetic writers and directors of this opus, put these two talented performers through such low brow antics that even homeboy Rob Riggle can't save them. "Dumb and Dumber To" is full of gags that may make you gag.
Shawn says, "Not a complete waste of time, but close. Yes, you get exactly what you would expect but now after 20 years it all seems a bit odd, tremendously forced and sadly not funny. Think someone serving Taco Bell for Thanksgiving dinner. You'll eat it but won't enjoy it."
RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 1 Popcorn Bag
3) WHIPLASH (R)
Sony Pictures Classics
Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons give riveting performances in the intense and unsettling drama, "Whiplash." Teller plays a student studying jazz drumming at a noted New York college. He's tormented by a bullying music professor who seems to have learned his teaching skills from a sadistic drill sergeant.
Writer/director Damien Chazelle uses sharp editing to give the movie the feel of a blistering Buddy Rich solo, a violent drive that jazz lovers will appreciate.
RUSS: 4 Popcorn Bags
ALSO OPENING THIS WEEK:
“Art and Craft” is a documentary about Mark Landis, one of the most productive American art forgers who gave away hundreds of phony masterpieces over a career that lasted decades before he was exposed. “Beyond the Lights” is a showbiz drama about a musical superstar who suffers the consequences of fame. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Minnie Driver and Danny Glover star.
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