- on Friday, 23 October 2015 16:45
- by Frank Wilkins
There’s a somber irony that permeates nearly every frame of Steve Jobs, Danny Boyle’s new film about the famed Apple Computer co-founder (Michael Fassbender) and innovator of so many of the precious electronic comfort items we take for granted today.
The marketing and creative genius is almost single-handedly responsible for changing the way we communicate with one another in today’s world, yet many of Jobs’s own personal interactions were deeply dysfunctional at best and absolutely contemptible at worst. The guy rubbed nearly everyone he met the wrong way and couldn’t lend a compliment if his life depended on it.
It’s true that many of those around him regarded Jobs as an absolute monster. But Alan Sorkin’s script (based loosely on Walter Isaacson’s book of the same name) takes its full two hours and paints a devastatingly fascinating portrait of a character with his own gravitational pull that – regardless of what you thought of him – brings respect and even a slight measure of sympathy to the man who inspired devotion and creativity from everyone around him. Apple co-founder and Jobs colleague Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) believes that someone can be both a gifted genius and decent person at the same time. Sorkin tells us that Jobs was not one of those people.
Unlike 2013’s Jobs (starring Ashton Kutcher) that reeled out its story as a rote, point-to-point historical narrative of Apple’s milestones, Boyle’s fast-paced, dialogue-driven Steve Jobs plays out backstage in three 40-minute real-time acts, each built around a significant product unveiling: 1984’s Macintosh; 1988’s NeXTcube, and the groundbreaking iMac in 1998. Three individual days over the span of 14 years condensed down to 2 mesmerizing hours. Boyle films each segment in the technology of the day which bathes each period in a palpable atmosphere.
The opening scene (shot on 16mm film) was filmed at De Anza Community College’s Flint auditorium which was where the actual Macintosh launch took place back in 1984. We know the product was initially a failure (as nearly was the launch itself), but the event sparked a revolution of sorts and Sorkin’s influence is felt in the sharp, snappy dialogue from characters who pass one another in the dark hallways. Jobs pumps himself up and barks orders to fix last-minute glitches as the clock ticks down on the curtain call.
Next up is the San Francisco Opera House (shot on 35mm film) where Jobs is set to announce his NeXT computer with the full revenge-motivated intention of it being his way back into Apple after his firing from the company he founded years earlier.
Fittingly, the final act was shot on digital which perfectly compliments the clean lines and sharp simplicity of the iMac which not only represented Jobs’s return to Apple, but debuted the device that would eventually transform personal computing.
It’s not a coincidence that Sorkin’s script plays out like a stage play, after all he comes from Broadway theater. But in watching the performances, it quickly becomes evident that the actors are relishing the opportunity to sink their teeth into the meaty bites of smart, witty dialogue.
Tying all three acts together is a hovering melange of characters that played central roles if Jobs’s life. Kate Winslet (wavering Polish accent and all) is marketing guru Joanna Hoffman, one of the few to survive standing up to Jobs, while Rogen is the most welcomed surprise of the entire film as Woz.
Jeff Daniels brings passion to his role as former Apple CEO Steve Scully (forever known as the man who fired Jobs from Apple) and father figure of sorts to Jobs. Scully is the catalyst for the exploration of Jobs’s adopted childhood which gets ample attention as the cause of his megalomaniacal tendencies.
But never does Jobs feel more human than when daughter Lisa – who bears the name of Apple’s first computer – is on the screen. Played as an adult by Perla Haney-Jardine, she becomes the story’s emotional center and eventually the grounding force for an egomaniac on the loose. It’s particularly heartwarming to see the emotional arc shared by the two.
You don’t have to use Apple products or even like Steve Jobs the person to appreciate Steve Jobs the Movie. It’s a brilliant masterpiece and intimate, warts-and-all portrait of a broken person who literally changed the world through his tremendous intelligence, passion for creativity, and ferocious drive for perfection. It’s only when we acknowledge our own flaws that we can truly begin to understand ourselves.
MPAA Rating: R for language.
Runtime: 122 mins
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Alan Sorkin
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen
Genre: Biography | Drama
Tagline: Can a great man be a good man?
Memorable Movie Quote: "Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen"
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Official Site: http://www.stevejobsthefilm.com/
Release Date: October 23, 2015
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available
Synopsis: His passion and ingenuity have been the driving force behind the digital age. However his drive to revolutionize technology was sacrificial. Ultimately it affected his family life and possibly his health. In this revealing film we explore the trials and triumphs of a modern day genius, the late CEO of Apple inc. Steven Paul Jobs.