Monday, September 15, 2014

Crazy Horse Returns Triumphant in Downtown Boise

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Julia LiBassi, of The Raven and the Writing Desk, lets slide with her "strong, sultry wail" at the opening night of the new Crazy Horse. - BEN SCHULTZ
  • Ben Schultz
  • Julia LiBassi, of The Raven and the Writing Desk, lets slide with her "strong, sultry wail" at the opening night of the new Crazy Horse.

A couple of songs into The Raven and the Writing Desk’s set on Friday, Sept. 12, drummer Scott Roush stopped for a moment and looked at the audience.

“I’m going to take a picture of you guys from back here behind the drums,” he said. “Will you guys look like you’re partying really hard?”

That didn’t take much effort. An over-capacity crowd turned out to celebrate the new Crazy Horse’s grand opening. Bar staff scrambled to pour drinks and bus empty glasses as people chatted, smoked out on the patio and listened to live music from a bill ranging from young Twin Falls transplant Meth House Party Band to iconic local stoner rock trio Caustic Resin.

The variety of acts that performed suited Crazy Horse co-owner Wes Malvini’s expressed desire to pay “homage and respect for the history of Boise’s music.”

While each band delivered an enjoyable performance, the two clear highlights were the sets by Caustic Resin and Denver, Colo.-based cabaret-metal quartet The Raven and the Writing Desk.

Brett Netson didn’t seem to have as much trouble keeping his guitar in tune as he did during Caustic Resin’s set at Treefort 2014’s History of Boise Rock Showcase. This left much less space between the barrages of ear-scathing distortion. The oozing bass lines and propulsive, yet subtle drumming were just as impressive.

The Raven and the Writing Desk’s combination of snarling metal guitar and somber, cabaret-tinged tunes may seem unlikely, but it worked as well here as it did at the band’s Treefort 2014 set. The steady, supple rhythms, which quickly got the crowd dancing, undoubtedly helped. So did lead singer Julia LiBassi’s strong, sultry wail.

The night’s music had a couple of hitches: The speakers cut out during Caustic Resin and Storie Grubb and the Holy Wars’ sets. The problem was quickly fixed each time, though, giving the crowd ample opportunity to note the clarity and power of the sound system.

“Better days are ahead of us,” sang Storie Grubb during his band’s set. As far as the Crazy Horse goes, it’s hard to imagine a better one than this. Time will tell.
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Mr. Cope’s Cave: Do You Know Who I Am!

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 10:25 AM

What is that really saying?… Do you know who I am? 

Oh, there are circumstances, I suppose, when it’s an innocent enough question. Excuse me, sir, but I have amnesia and can’t remember my name. Do you happen to know who I am?

Or at the 50-year class reunion, with that grandmother who was your frog-dissecting partner in old Mr. Beeker’s sophomore biology class, but haven’t seen since graduation. No fair looking at the nametag, now. Do you know who I am?

But that’s not how we usually hear it, is it? The usual way we hear “Do you know who I am?” is when someone who considers themselves to be quite the somebody—an eminence so grand that the receiver of the question sure as hell should know who he, or she, is.

Furthermore, that grand eminence wouldn’t be saying it if he (or she) wasn’t in a situation where he (or she) didn’t feel he (or she) was getting the proper respect, the proper deference, perhaps the proper acquiescence or submission from another individual.

By some accounts, the line was the first thing out of Larry Craig’s mouth when he got caught by a vice cop soliciting companionship in an airport men’s room. And I have a friend—a Republican friend, I should add—who says he witnessed at close range Jim Risch, when told he had to pay for the gas he needed inside the convenience store because of the late hour, demanded of the poor clerk over the intercom, “Do you know who I am?” (And that was before he had even become an accidental governor for a few months, or a do-nothing senator for six years.)

The question—which I think we should always consider a rhetorical one, as it’s hardly ever asked without the implication that whoever is being asked it isn’t worth waiting for an answer from—made news twice last week. Maybe you didn’t hear the one about George Zimmerman (the man-sized slug who murdered Trayvon Martin and got away with it) saying the line to a workmate in an argument that included a threat from Zimmerman to kill the other guy. But surely you heard about Sarah Palin saying it during what sounded like a Hatfields/McCoys outbreak up in Wasilla. And Sarah’s incident, during which her cheesiness was on vivid display, came in the same week she made an ass out of herself yet again in a statement—unsolicited by anyone, that I’m aware of—in which she, in a nut shell, suggested that the world would be so much better off if the McCain/Palin administration was dealing with current international crises instead of you-know-who.

Yeah, right… Bobblehead and Bimbo take on the world.
I’m not surprised that Wasilla Sarah would say it. I suspect it’s not the first time. (A Palin spokesperson has claimed that’s not what she said. But when having to decide who is lying in a he-said/she-said dispute, I tend to go with the one who has the most to lose, and I can’t imagine Ms. Palin wanting her public image to fade any more than it already has.) Nor does it shock to hear that George Zimmerman is stupid enough to say it. He’ll probably be saying it for the rest of his grubby little life.

I also believe my friend about Risch saying it because he didn’t get the proper acknowledgement from some lowly clerk, and of course I believe the Minneapolis cop who was treated to Larry Craig’s rendition of it. But I hadn’t thought about Li’l Jimmy Risch using it for years, or Craig, either. Either of them saying “Do you know who I am?” seems as likely and natural as hearing a rooster crow.

It was the Palin/Zimmerman eruption that got me to considering what sort of an incredibly arrogant asshole would resort to an argument that relied solely on who they are—as in “I’m Sarah Palin, and that’s all you need to know, buster!”

And does it also not speak to an almost incomprehensible lack of character?… so often coming, as it does, from the sneering lips of those whose eminence has been established by questioning the character of others.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

TIFF 2014: Midnight Madness With a Finnish Woodsman, a Walrus and Samuel L. Jackson

Posted By on Sat, Sep 13, 2014 at 7:30 AM

The saying "nothing good happens after midnight" is hooey.

Just ask the thousands of half-crazed fans who queue up for Toronto International Film Festival's Midnight Madness series, now in its 26th year of sci-fi, horror and bizarre offerings. This year, I chose to be a bit more sleep-deprived than usual to catch a couple of midnight showings. I wasn't disappointed.

Justin Long stars in Tusk.
  • Justin Long stars in Tusk.

I'm still trying to shake off some of the scenes from Tusk, the latest shock-and-awe from director Kevin Smith that inspires as many laughs as it does screams. If I gave you three guesses what Tusk was about, you might eventually get it right. There are tusks involved; in particular, walrus tusks. The movie stars Justin Long, Michael Parks and Johnny Depp as an eccentric Quebec homicide detective. The audience was in stitches ... as is the bloodied victim in this thriller. I must confess I'm easily scared, but I'm convinced Tusk is destined for cult greatness.

Making Tusk all the more provocative is that Smith has also unveiled an historic marketing ploy: two cannabis strains with the Tusk brand. Smith said that he intends to make the medical marijuana available in a Los Angeles dispensary under the names Mr. Tusk and White Walrus. That is genius/madness.

My other all-nighter at TIFF Midnight Madness was a new Samuel L. Jackson action thriller Big Game. And it had the audience squealing with laughter. Here, Jackson plays the U.S. President whose Air Force One is brought down by a terrorist's missile. He crash-lands in the Finnish wilderness where he is rescued by a 13-year-old woodsman (Onni Tommila), who has been sent into the wild to prove his manhood. The film was craftily-packed with 1980s genre cliches and Jackson and Tommila are hilarious. And, right on cue, Jackson gets to further build his collection of motherfuckers. If you can laugh at Big Game for what it is—a blowhard piece of good guy vs. bad guy nonsense—you'll have quite a ride through this funhouse.

Onni Tommila and Samuel L. Jackson star in Big Game.
  • Onni Tommila and Samuel L. Jackson star in Big Game.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

TIFF 2014: Bill Murray Is a Saint Among Us

Posted By on Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Bill Murray is St. Vincent.
  • Bill Murray is St. Vincent.

The soundtrack to Vincent McKenna's life includes "One Toke Over the Line" playing on the jukebox; the soft, quick grind of his cigarette lighter; the call to the post at Belmont Race Track; and his Russian stripper girlfriend moaning "giddyup" during some pretty pathetic lovemaking.

Vincent is no saint, yet he's the centerpiece of St. Vincent, the best film Bill Murray has made in years and certain to be a huge audience-pleaser. But honestly, who else plays a colorful loser better than Murray? He's the ultimate inappropriate role model that captures our heart while probably lifting our wallet.

When Vincent isn't nursing a whiskey at the corner bar or losing big at the track, he's watching his rather pregnant Russian girlfriend (Naomi Watts) do her thing at the local strip club. Then up rolls Maggie (the wonderful Melissa McCarthy is a nicely restrained serio-comic performance) and young Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), Vincent's new neighbors.

Maggie is a single mom who needs someone to keep an eye on Oliver (and Vincent could use some extra cash). Thus begins an irresponsible adventure in babysitting that only Murray can pull off. In no time at all, Oliver is joining Vincent at the bar and the track, and, soon enough, learns that Vincent's girlfriend is a "lady of the night" but isn't exactly sure what that means. 

Chris O'Dowd is also along for this wonderful ride as an eager-to-please Irish priest/teacher.

"Dumbness does not play well in heaven" he charges his impressionable students.

St. Vincent was a perfect way to wrap up the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival: a splendorous story that inspires genuine laughter and a softball-size lump in the throat. And come on, it stars Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy. How good was that?

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Boise's World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial Completed

Posted By on Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Boise's World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial - BOISE CITY DEPARTMENT OF ARTS AND HISTORY
  • Boise City Department of Arts and History
  • Boise's World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial
In the proposal to the Boise City Department of Arts and History for what would become the "World Trade Center Memorial," Jensen Belts Associates and artist Amber Conger described the concept as "Brave souls all ripples in a pond."

The $30,000 public artwork was paid for by the Percent for Art program and the Boise Fire Department and once access to Riverside Park is restored following scheduled Greenbelt maintenance, the public is invited to see the newly completed memorial. 

The 9/11 memorial has been in the works for months and was created at the behest of the Boise Fire Department to honor emergency responders who died during rescue efforts at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The Idaho Fallen Firefighter Foundation and Boise Fire Department spearheaded getting the centerpiece of the memorial: a section of I-beam from the original World Trade Center,  

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Mr. Cope’s Cave: Dear Diary

Posted By on Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Monday: Just zipped today’s blog over to editor. Done with that. Load off my back. Yipee. Gotta start thinking now what to do for Friday blog. Especially with company coming in tonight. There goes some primo writing time. Phhhht! But it’ll be good to see A_____ again. Knew her back in Ohio. It’s been about 35 years since I’ve seen her. It’ll be interesting to hear what she thinks of Olivia Newton-John movies, Reagan, punk rock, Cheers, personal computers, meth, the first Gulf War, my 24-year-old daughter, Seinfeld, Monica Lewinski, break dancing, the 100 pounds I’ve gained since I saw her last, Iran-Contra, Boy George, the Internet, 9/11, the final episode of M*A*S*H, Cats, the Delorean, that war between Saddam Hussein and the Ayatollah, that genocide in Rawanda, Vanilla Ice, the fall of the Soviet Union, Hurricane Katrina, death metal, Star Trek: TNG, when we invaded Grenada, Princess Di getting pregnant with William, China turning into a super power, The English Patient, everything about Robin Williams from Mork on, Bush, the other Bush, Hillary’s health care plan, that genocide in the Bosnia, Twin Peaks, Huey Lewis and the News, AIDS, Leno getting the Tonight Show instead of Letterman, John Updike’s last 19 novels… phew, I hope there’s enough time. She leaves tomorrow morning and doesn’t even get here until tonight. We went out once. Before my wife and I got together. I think she has grown-up kids. Christ, she might even have grandkids. I suppose I should ask her about that, too.

Tuesday: They ended up not coming last night, A_____ and her husband. They got lost somewhere between Mount Shasta and here. They’re coming tonight instead. There goes some more primo writing time. Phhhht! But it’ll be still be good to see A_____ again. I also want to ask her if she’s seen Joyce, Jim, Pat, Caroline, Les, Ron, Sam, Snooky, John, Paul, Henry, Ginny, Larry, that other Larry, Tom, that guy whose name I can never remember, and Patti. I also want to ask her if she remembers where we went that time I took her out. At least I think it was her. Now that I think about it, it might have been Snooky I took out. One thing for sure, I better come up with something for Friday’s blog. Running out of time here and it’ll only get worse with company coming. Also have to mow the damn lawn before they get here.

Wednesday: They finally came last night, A______ and her husband. Nice guy. First thing I did was ask her if she’s seen Joyce, Jim, Pat, Caroline, Les, Ron, Sam, Snooky, John, Paul, Henry, Ginny, that guy whose name I can never remember, and Patti. Only I forgot to ask her if she’d seen Larry and the other Larry. Just as well. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure she ever knew Larry and Larry. I was hoping to take her and her husband over to Boise just to drive around and look at things. Maybe up to Lucky Peak. Maybe even up to Idaho City. That’s where I always take anybody from back east who’ve never seen anything like Idaho City before. She’s been living in Georgia for the past 35 years, so I was pretty sure she’d never seen anything like Idaho City before. But they got here later than we expected, then we started talking. Before we knew it, it was dark. No point in taking anybody to see things in the dark. One good thing about it. They couldn’t see the damn lawn either. Which never got mowed.

Thursday: Forgot to mention yesterday that A_____ and her husband left. Yesterday. Early. They were going to Portland to catch a plane back to Georgia. On their way from Mount Shasta to Portland, they decided to swing over here and see us. Big swing. That’s when they got lost. I guess I’d forgotten A_____ is sort of impulsive. And I don’t think I ever knew 35 years ago she couldn’t tell north from south. Or maybe I knew but forgot. In 35 years, you can forget a lot. We went to breakfast before they left and I told them how to get from Meridian to the freeway. I think I gave pretty good directions, but still, I hope they didn’t get lost. Now I am free to get to work on Friday’s blog. Soon as I mow the damn lawn. Be right back.

Friday: Forgot to mention yesterday that it was 9/11. That’s what I should have written about for today’s blog. 9/11. Letting 9/11 pass without saying something about 9/11 is like letting Dec. 7 pass without saying something about Pearl Harbor, or Nov. 22 pass without saying something about JFK. But I don’t know what to say. I think everything’s already been said. I hate writing stuff everybody already knows, or expressing feelings about something everybody has the same feelings about. It’s like writing, “Know what I’m talking about?” knowing the answer is, “Of course we do. Who doesn’t?” So I think I’ll skip 9/11 this year. Maybe two years from now I’ll say something. You know, when it’s been 15 years. Then again when it’s been 20 years. That’s always the best time to write something about things like Pearl Harbor and 9/11. On anniversaries that end with a “0” or “5.” The 25-year anniversary will be a big one, you can count on that. But I’ll be pushing my luck to get that far. And you know something else? There oughta be a word for things like 9/11 and Pearl Harbor other than “anniversary.” Either that, or they should come up with a new word for the day you got married. When someone says “We got a big anniversary coming up,” you don’t know whether to say “Congratulations!” or “Oh, wasn’t that just terrible?” One good thing about the 9/11 anniversary yesterday. I finally got the lawn mowed. Oh, never did come up with something to write about though, so have decided to call these last few diary entries my Friday blog. Will zip it over to my editor soon as I’m finished. Load off my back. Yipee. Wonder if A_____ and her husband ever found Portland.   
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

TIFF 2014: 'The Imitation Game' Is the Real Thing

Posted By on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch et al star in The Imitation Game.
  • Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch et al star in The Imitation Game.

In 1951, British police investigated what appeared to be a garden-variety burglary at the flat of Alan Turing, a nondescript professor. 

"I think Professor Turing is hiding something," says one of the local detectives.

They had no idea.

History tells us that Turing was, in large part, responsible for cracking the German "Enigma" code, thus helping to win World War II. Far fewer history books tell us that Turing was also convicted of being a homosexual, years after saving most of the civilized world from tyranny.

That is the story of The Imitation Game, which premiered this week at the Toronto International Film Festival and has Oscar written all over it: Best Picture, Best Director (Morten Tyldum), Best Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley) and above all, Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing.

"I like solving problems," Turing tells a British commander. "And Enigma is the most difficult problem in the world."

Part of the difficulty was that the Nazis would change the code each day at midnight, meaning Turing and his small team of geniuses had less than 24-hours to crack the code or start all over again at midnight, which they had to do over and over for years. In The Imitation Game, nearly everyone in the British military doubts Turing, but he builds a machine to try and disseminate the Nazi's logic, instead of the specific code. In fact, Turing built one of the world's first digital, logical computers. 

"Think of it, an electrical brain," says Turing, trying to convince his colleagues.

The Imitation Game looks great, sounds great—it has a beautiful score from Alexandre Desplat—and although Cumberbatch is great with even average material, when he has something as important and engrossing as The Imitation Game, he's tops among his peers.

At a TIFF press conference, a journalist asked Cumberbatch  if he was afraid of being typecast in "smart roles," considering he just pulled down another Emmy Award for his tile role in the TV show Sherlock Holmes. The question was inane and made about as much sense as asking Laurence Oliver if he was afraid of being cast in more Shakespeare productions. 

If you love historical dramas, smart storytelling and textured filmmaking, The Imitation Game has to be at the top of your must-see list. It's set to open nationwide in the United States in late November. 

Benedict Cumberbatch walked the red carpet for the  premiere of The Imitation Game at the Toronto International  Film Festival.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch walked the red carpet for the premiere of The Imitation Game at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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TIFF 2014: Chris Rock Stars In, Writes, Directs TIFF's Hottest Comedy

Posted By on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 7:39 AM

Some of the funniest men and women on the planet have skipped across the border to attend this year's Toronto International Film Festival: Jon Stewart (who is unveiling his freshman directorial effort Rosewater), Adam Sandler (who appears in no fewer than three films), Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell (who produced Wiig's latest comedy, Welcome to Me), Ben Stiller (who stars in director Noah Baumbach's latest film, While We're Young), Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy (St. Vincent) and Steve Carell (who gives a chilling dramatic performance in Foxcatcher).

Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson star in Top Five.
  • Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson star in Top Five.

The best and freshest comedy at this year's TIFF, though, came from Chris Rock, who directs and stars in Top Five, an irreverent, heartfelt film that could easily be dubbed a 21st Century Annie Hall. The buzz started to build quickly following the premiere of Top Five at TIFF and within hours, Paramount Pictures won what Hollywood Reporter called "a frenzied bidding war" to distribute the film. It's the best thing Chris Rock has done, by far, and co-stars Rosario Dawson, J.B. Smoove, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric the Entertainer, Sherri Shepherd, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler. It also contains the funniest scene involving a bottle of hot sauce ever in a film. I'm still laughing just thinking about it.

Kristen Wiig stars in Welcome to Me.
  • Kristen Wiig stars in Welcome to Me.

Ever since her smash hit Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig has been looking to mine comedy gold again, and Welcome to Me is her second best effort. It's not the greatest comedy of all time, but it includes some pretty good laughs. Here, Wiig plays a California lottery winner who is clearly off her meds and is surrounded by people who are more than happy to tell her what she wants to hear—that includes letting her host her own two-hour talk show ... with no guests. It's just Wiig, rambling about anything swirling through her brain, some of which is is inappropriately hilarious. The name of the talk show is Welcome to Me, of course.

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts star in While We're Young.
  • Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts star in While We're Young.

Writer-director Noah Baumbach is a favorite at TIFF. He was here in 2012 for one of my favorites, Frances Ha; and he has received great acclaim for other festival hits such as The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg, where he successfully teamed up with Ben Stiller. Baumbach and Stiller have re-teamed for their latest effort, While We're Young and fans of the two will particularly like this one. Stiller co-stars with Naomi Watts as a childless couple who have less and less in common with other couples their age. Stiller and Watts gravitate to a 20-something couple played by Amanda Seyfried and white-hot comic actor Adam Driver, who want nothing more than to be like the older couple. It's a grass-is-greener fable, but with Baumbach in charge, it has the right amount of quirk and bite. 

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

TIFF 2014: 'Still Alice' Is Julianne Moore's Best Work

Posted By on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Julianne Moore and Kate Bosworth star in Still Alice.
  • Julianne Moore and Kate Bosworth star in Still Alice.

In a conversation with Dr. Troy Rohn three summers ago, the Boise State researcher said that at the time, Idaho had between 25,000 and 32,000 people in Idaho diagnosed with Alzheimer's (enough to fill Boise State's Albertsons Stadium). He said that number would triple by 2050. When I asked if we had an epidemic, he took a breath and said, "It's a good word to use."

That haunting conversation was at the front of my mind as I watched Still Alice, starring Julianne Moore in the best performance of her career and co-starring co-stars Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart and Kate Bosworth.

It's hard to believe Moore hasn't already won an Oscar, given her work in The Hours, The End of the Affair, Far From Heaven, The Kids Are All Right and MagnoliaStill Alice might be the one that earns her the prize. 

I admit to being skeptical when I approached Still Alice. I was expecting an earnest, sentimental offering, but this movie is simply wonderful. It's based on the 2005 bestselling debut novel by Dr. Lisa Genova, and the screenplay was crafted with tremendous care by Wash Westmoreland, who also directed, and Richard Glatzer who suffers from ALS but completed the film even though his hands and arms were barely functional.

Moore plays Alice Howland, a vivacious, happily married linguistics professor who one day forgets a word while giving a lecture. Soon, the words begin to fall away like leaves. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, she is wracked with guilt, telling her children they may have inherited the gene that will soon rob Alice of much of her memory.

Don't be afraid of this film because of its subject matter. Embrace it and be swept away by one of the most beautiful performances ever captured on film.
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TIFF 2014: That Jon Stewart Movie Is Pretty Great

Posted By on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 11:38 AM

Jon Stewart directed and wrote the screenplay for Rosewater, which opens nationwide in November.
  • Jon Stewart directed and wrote the screenplay for Rosewater, which opens nationwide in November.

Some Hollywood media have dismissed Rosewater, helmed by Jon Stewart, as a novelty since it's attracting an extraordinary amount of attention primarily because its director is a star in his own right. The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy went so far as to write, "If this same film had been made by an unknown director, it would pass in the night with only scant notice," and's Eric Snider wrote "Rosewater is a fine first film, but that's about it."

Asking us to ignore the fact that Stewart directed Rosewater is as illogical as asking Stewart to ignore the fact that Maziar Bahari appeared on The Daily Show, which did not go unnoticed by Bahari's captors and tormentors, who held him in a Tehran prison for five months in 2009.

"There was an immediate sense of panic when we first found out about his imprisonment," Stewart told Boise Weekly minutes before the curtain went up at Monday night's premiere of Rosewater at the Toronto International Film Festival. 

Bahari was tossed into solitary confinement after the Iranian government accused him of being an American spy—he was, in fact, a Newsweek journalist from Canada. While imprisoned, Bahari looked at some words scratched into the cell wall: 

"خدا رحمت من ممکن است." Translation: "May God have mercy on me."

What followed was a stunning chronicle of how Bahari survived to tell his story in his bestselling memoir, Then They Came for Me. After a return appearance on The Daily Show, Bahari later asked Stewart if he knew anyone who might be interested in turning his book into a screenplay.

"When he asked me to help him turn his book into a movie, I said, 'Sure. Yeah,'" Stewart told BW. "I knew nothing about making a movie."

After being turned down by several screenwriters, Stewart completed the treatment himself, periodically sending drafts to Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron Howard, who gave the script his blessing. The result is really something. It crackles with urgency.

Stewart, who talks to some of the world's best filmmakers for a living, admitted he's a bit intimidated by the film festival scene.

"This is a very big deal," he said, eyes widening with a blend of fear and pride as he surveyed a crush of photographers and fans. "Our hope is that Maziar's story gets out with the widest berth possible. So, yes, this pretty exciting."

When Rosewater opens nationwide in November, it will probably be known as "that Jon Stewart movie," which I think is pretty high praise indeed.

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