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Movie Review of the Week – “Steve Jobs”

Movie Review of the Week – “Steve Jobs”
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BY ALISON BAILES

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs couldn’t have a better name. His single-minded devotion to his work at the expense of personal relationships in his life is well known. After the Ashton Kutcher starrer “Jobs” (2013) and Alex Gibney’s documentary “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine” (2015), it might seem that we have seen all there is to see. But Danny Boyle’s riveting new film zooms in tight on the man, allowing us a clarity of focus that is as awful as it is awesome.

Written with trademark panache and typical speedy rhythms by Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”, “The West Wing”), this non-biopic biopic unfolds like a brilliant piece of theatre. Divided into three “acts”, we witness Jobs at important, turning-point moments in his career. Each “scene” takes place in the 40 minutes or so leading up to a new product launch: the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT computer in 1988 and the iMac in 1998. Backstage before his presentations, Jobs juggles last minute snags, family issues and professional relationships. The picture that emerges is of a driven man, obsessed with perfection and demanding of his own place in tech history. He is shown to be unforgiving of others, uncaring towards his own child and unable to show gratitude.

Sorkin and Boyle develop these themes throughout the three acts with Michael Fassbender (“Shame”) stepping into Jobs’ black turtleneck and Levis. Fassbender, at first glance seems like an odd choice; he looks nothing like Jobs. But gradually we forget that we are looking at the movie star and become lost in the all-encompassing performance. Fassbender exudes quick-witted intelligence and the brio of a man who doesn’t suffer fools or former colleagues gladly.

Joining Fassbender in this granular dissection are Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels. Rogen, playing Steve Wozniak the other co-founder of Apple, has never been better. His scenes with Jobs ring with impassioned intensity as he calls out his former friend and professional partner for a lack of due appreciation. Daniels plays John Sculley, the former Apple CEO with whom Jobs had a long and complicated relationship. Winslet is Joanna Hoffman, Apple’s chief of marketing, soundingboard and friend. She is as compelling as ever despite a Polish accent that seems to intensify as the film progresses.

Boyle keeps what could have been stage-y drama moving along at an exciting clip. With his camera (and actors) constantly moving and judicious flashbacks, the words become the action. Never has such a wordy script seemed so alive. Villains often make more interesting protagonists than heroes, but what is readily apparent is that complicated, flawed individuals make for even better ones. Jobs’ genius is played against his inability to empathize with others. The film asks at what price?

Any biographical portrait is bound to make waves and many former colleagues and friends of Jobs have made their displeasure known. Wozniak, a fan, was a paid consultant on the film and declares it akin to “seeing the real Steve Jobs”. Very loosely drawn from sections of Walter Isaacson’s exhaustive biography, “Steve Jobs” is clearly Sorkin’s impression of the man rather than an attempt at a cinematic photocopy. In throwing out the template of the birth-to-death biopic, Sorkin and Boyle have succeeded at making vital cinema that probes the spaces between the man and the icon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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