(directed by Jon Stewart, 2014)
***+ (out of 5)
> Celebrated social critic and witty funnyman Jon Stewart took a leave of absence from The Daily Show to make this, his first, (and based on the results, one hopes, not his last), feature film. I gather that The brilliant social satirist felt a bit let down by the reception for his debut, which was a bit restrained, the box office tepid. But the fact is- Jon Stewart made a very good film here, deserving of your support.
. When an Iranian journalist was jailed and tortured for daring to do a comic segment on The Daily Show, Stewart felt a deep responsibility and personal obligation to do everything he could do to help free this unjustly imprisoned man. As a storyteller, telling the story of Maziar Bahari was the best and most obvious thing he could do, and he does a great job of putting his ego away and telling a compelling story in a straightforward and effective way.
. Perfectly cast for his wonderful ability to engender empathy, Gael García Bernal gives another fine performance as a man straddling two cultures, who finds himself trapped in an almost surreal nightmare of lunacy and ignorance. The Iranian authorities must hate this film, for the unblinkingly negative view it takes of them, showing them as so paranoid and dogmatic, they can’t differentiate between comedy and reality. (After this, I sure can’t imagine Jon Stewart ever being granted a visa to visit Iran!) Bahari’s interrogator likes to believe he is serving his country, and convinces himself that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” he uses are not torture… (Hm. Where have we seen this before, DICK CHENEY and DONALD TRUMP?) But that’s just self-delusion and denial- something people are very good at.
. This film serves as an important reminder that we are not helpless. We CAN promote social justice and effect real change when we band together to make our voices heard. Thanks, Jon Stewart, for making the voice of your conscience heard.
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