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Steve Jobs Review

12 Oct

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.40.25 PM

The first act of Steve Jobs is an extremely entertaining half hour, with rapid-fire dialogue throwing us straight into the backstage flurry prior to Jobs’s 1984 Macintosh launch. It’s a great way to set up the movie’s tone and characters and conflicts, and its extremely kinetic nature brings Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle crashing together from the outset. Unlike with Fincher, however, the director takes a backseat to the writer here, and all of Sorkin’s precious babies–walking and talking, explaining, lack of time for breathing during dialogue–are at the forefront. That’s not a bad thing for the first act, however, which is definitely the tightest and most propulsive of the three. There’s a ton of energy here, and the movie’s setup and backstage settings are reminiscent of Birdman (whether that’s a good or bad thing is your call).

Taken as a whole, the main draw and flaw–so proud of myself for that one–of the movie is focus. First, the draw. It features a refreshingly different structure than most biopics, opting out of the “and THEN he did THIS!” method by zeroing in on the hour or so before each of three big launches. As a result, there are three different types of film used by Boyle and cinematographer Ashton Kutcher Alwin Kuchler; on the story/character side, Jobs frequently comes into contact with the same people over the same conflicts. There’s a desire for acknowledgment running headfirst into Jobs’s desire for control, into his egomania and his inability to connect with others…which is something he can still pinpoint and manipulate with regards to our relationships with technology. The various products, the movie says, are portraits and extensions of Steve Jobs, and they capture the contradictions between public and private, between the teamwork needed for their production and the way Jobs treated that team like shit.

Now, the flaw. The movie focuses too much on Jobs as a dad, on his changing relationship with his daughter Lisa (and with father figure John Sculley). Fassbender and the three actresses do a fine job of making their scenes affecting, but you get the feeling that putting so much weight on Dad Jobs as the root of it all strips a bit of complexity from the character. It certainly should be a factor when exploring Jobs’s personal life, but that one factor is not necessarily the best choice for a centerpiece. So, when the movie slows its frenetic pace at the end for a more humanizing story, it’s both closure to an important storyline and an unsatisfying shift to something a bit too sentimental. The movie does better by the Woz-Jobs dynamic, the tension between the two well played by Fassbender and Rogen. In fact, one of the more important lines of the movie is delivered by the latter: “It’s not binary. You can be decent and gifted at the same time.” The movie consists of other characters trying to figure out where on this spectrum Steve Jobs lies, and in the end, he has to try and figure it out himself.

GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-The movie is a big fan of screens, crowds, windows, and mirrors in terms of its visuals. There are some really pretty shots in there, most notably one in a conference room while it’s raining outside and one involving wall projections.

-This is a great cast, as we all know. Fassbender does a great job of conveying Jobs’s internal struggle to figure out who he is, Winslet’s shaky accent doesn’t prevent her from playing off of Fassbender well, and Rogen is surprisingly good as Woz. Also, Michael Stuhlbarg is fun to watch. Other semi-related thoughts because I don’t feel like coming up with adjectives to describe everybody’s performances: Katherine Waterston was so, so good in Inherent Vice, Sarah Snook gave one of my favorite recent performances in Predestination, and Jeff Daniels should not have won that Best Actor Emmy.

Photo credit: Universal Pictures, Cloud Eight Films, Steve Jobs

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11 Responses to “Steve Jobs Review”

  1. killkenny16 October 14, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

    Good review! You had me at “reminiscent of Birdman”. I gotta find out when it’s getting a wide release…

    • polarbears16 October 14, 2015 at 11:26 pm #

      October 23!

      • killkenny16 October 14, 2015 at 11:58 pm #

        Thank you sir! I hat-tip in your general direction!

  2. jimfear October 16, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

    Fassbender continues his path to world domination.

  3. peggyatthemovies November 11, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    I FINALLY saw this last night with a fantastic Q & A afterwards with Danny Boyle & Aaron Sorkin – moderated no less by the wonderful Kathryn Bigelow.. I liked the movie.. but it wasn’t ‘AMAZING’ by any means..we agree. Fassbender was so very good, but that comes as no surprise.. Kate Winslett was very good though I thought she got younger looking as the film went on, though they were supposed to have aged..ha! I guess it’s because they shot in 3 different types of ways to go with the times..then for me, Jeff Daniels was the best. I can see we disagree on that..but I think he always deserves an Emmy.. 😀 Not sure if I will do a review as I feel it’s kinda late in the game..and I pretty much have screenings every single night..I’m exhausted! ha!

    • polarbears16 November 11, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

      I think Jeff Daniels was really good in this movie, but even though he was solid in the Newsroom, I still preferred Cranston and Hamm. I guess that’s why I didn’t want the Emmy win for him! 🙂

  4. peggyatthemovies November 11, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    Well I can kinda agree there.. both Cranston & Hamm are 2 of my favs too!!! 😀 I mean Hamm finally got his when he truly deserved it most..so I’m not that mad and Cranston has won too..so share the wealth is my motto.. 😀

    • polarbears16 November 11, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

      Yeah, agreed! It’ll be interesting seeing the Best Actor races moving forward without those two staples. Hopefully Matthew Rhys breaks through at some point.

      • peggyatthemovies November 12, 2015 at 12:25 am #

        yeah..I’m not a big Rhys fan.. not sure why..just never gravitated towards him.. weird huh?? 😀

      • polarbears16 November 12, 2015 at 2:59 am #

        Haha yeah I do remember you saying that before. I think we can agree that Mads Mikkelsen deserves some recognition! Too bad about the show. :/

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. My Top 20 Films of 2015 | Polar Bears Watch TV - February 9, 2016

    […] Steve Jobs: Sorkin and Boyle transform this into something more than a typical biopic, and the three-act […]

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