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Steve Jobs - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Steve Jobs
Directing: B+
Acting: A-
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B+
Editing: A-

This happens a lot, where two movies about the same thing are released close together. But did anyone even see Ashton Kutcher in the 2013 film Jobs? I didn't, because like any other fan of director Danny Boyle, writer Aaron Sorkin, or the Walter Isaacson biography of the same name on which Sorkin based the screenplay, I knew there wasn't any point, with Steve Jobs coming down the pipeline.

And now it's here. And it should be said, first and foremost: if you want a truly nuanced, insightful and balanced picture of Steve Jobs the man, then read the aforementioned biography. It's a solid, grade-A book, which was written largely while Jobs was alive, with his full consent and with unprecedented access for the author. They met frequently over several years, both of them knowing the book would likely be published after his death.

And although the movie Steve Jobs uses the biography as the source material, Boyle and Sorkin take a radically different approach. The story is the movie is done in three acts, all of them following the characters around on the days of major product launches: the Macintosh in 1984; the NeXT computer in 1988 after Jobs was ousted from Apple; and the iMac in 1998 after he came back and turned the company around.

This movie is 122 minutes long, which means each of the three acts averages at just over 40 minutes long, but Aaron Sorkin's characteristically crackling dialogue makes them feel half that. This movie whizzes by. Basically this is The Social Network but for fans of Apple rather than fans of Facebook.

That said, we all know no one in the real world talks like Aaron Sorkin characters -- his all talk like enhanced versions of humans, even when they have deep character flaws. Steve Jobs is still moderately inventive in its cinematic storytelling, giving us a whole lot more information in two hours than most movies could with two sequels. And it focuses down on surprisingly few characters: besides Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender, embodying the spirit of the man surprisingly well in spite of not looking much like him), there's his self-described "work wife," Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet); Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen); original Mac computer co-creator Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg); Apple CEO John Scully (Jeff Daniels); and Steve Jobs' baby mamma Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston).

All of these people come into Steve Jobs's orbit during all three of these product launches, most of them increasingly alienated by him -- although Joanna, for some reason, sticks by him the entire time. She does threaten to quit at one point if he doesn't patch things up with the daughter he once tried to deny was his. Winslet is particularly impressive in this part, playing someone radically unlike her but disappearing in the part regardless. The same could be said of Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, which is perhaps the biggest surprise here.

That said, every part in this movie is impeccably cast, and I must mention all three of the young women who play Steve's daughter, Lisa: Makenzie Moss plays her at 5; Ripley Sobo at 9; and Perla Haney-Jardine at 19. It's so difficult to find gifted young-child actors who do not also come across as creepily precocious, but Danny Boyle found it in both Makenzie Moss and Ripley Sobo, both of whom are equal to every other actor in the room with them. It's less surprising that it should be found in a teenager, but Perla Haney-Jardine gets a key scene where Lisa has a confrontation with Steve and she knocks it out of the park.

While the acting is top notch, Steve Jobs is not without its flaws -- and to a minor degree, its dialogue is one of them. Sorkin's writing can be both the best and worst of a movie or television show, making everyone on screen seem hyper-articulate. You can get a little overloaded on that, and realism jumps out the window, having an effect on suspension of disbelief. And in a movie based on a biography, where very little direct quoting can be done due to the nature of distant memories, dialogue is nearly all invented by nature of necessity.

And then there's the cinematography by Alwin H. Küchler, which most of the time is wonderful but occasionally crosses the line into heavy-handed. Do we really need all that rain pounding against the window during a flashback scene with the Board, John Scully sitting at the far end of the table in shadow, only his face visible in the light cast through the window. Do these people really have board meetings in the dark? There are a few moments like that, in Steve Jobs, where they just seem to be trying a little too hard.

In spite of its few flaws, however, movies just don't get much more entertaining than Steve Jobs undeniably is -- almost exclusively on the basis of its ridiculously dense dialogue. It may not be that realistic on a fundamental level, but arguably it isn't meant to be; you can't fit the details of a book into a two-hour movie, and can only attempt at getting to the essence of the characters. Danny Boyle manages that much, at least. He made a movie about Steve Jobs that is the one truly worth watching.

steve jobs

Overall: B+
1 comment or Leave a comment
Heather McCrillis From: Heather McCrillis Date: October 22nd, 2015 03:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Are there any decent movies about IBM?
1 comment or Leave a comment