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Review: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs
10.23.2015
9 10

PLOT: The life of Apple Inc., co-founder Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) as told through his behavior and interactions at three key product launches – the MacIntosh in 1984, the NeXT computer in 1988, and the iMac ten years later.

REVIEW: It's hard to overstate the importance of Steve Jobs to our modern world. More than simply a pioneer, his products have become a staple in the lives of people world-wide, with his iMacs, iPods, iPhones and iPads having revolutionized computers to the point that many of you reading this probably walk-around with some kind of computer in your pocket on a daily-basis, keeping you (essentially) wired to the internet at all times. Thus the reason people have been so hot to make a biopic about the man, to the point that not only is STEVE JOBS not the first movie about him (lest we forget Ashton Kutcher's JOBS) it's  not even the only one coming out this year (Alex Gibney's doc STEVE JOBS: THE MAN AND THE MACHINE recently got a digital release).

Despite this, Danny Boyle's STEVE JOBS will likely go down as the definitive biopic of the man.  The direction, coupled with Aaron Sorkin's dazzling writing and Michael Fassbender's uncanny performance add up to a fascinatingly unconventional look at the life of a complicated, flawed, but brilliant and innovative man whose products have changed the world – for the better (I think).

When I say “unconventional” I mean that in the true sense of the word, as Sorkin's three-act script has turned the typical biopic approach on its head. Outside of a prelude featuring documentary footage of 2001 author Arthur C. Clarke predicting that everyone would own a personal computer by the 21st century, and some brief flashbacks, almost the entire movie is done like a filmed play. Each third features Jobs preparing for an important launch, and having to manage his relationships with the key figures in his personal and professional lives. These include Seth Rogen as Jobs' former partner Steve Wozniak, Jeff Daniels as Apple CEO (and Jobs father figure) John Sculley, Katherine Waterson as the mother of his daughter Lisa (played at various ages by different actresses), Michael Stuhlbarg as Mac pioneer Andy Hertzfeld and perhaps most importantly, Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman, Jobs' confidante and PR guru.

While obviously a great degree of poetic licence has been taken by making all of the strands of Jobs' life pull together and unravel at these three key moments, the result is almost Shakespearean. It allows Fassbender to really capture (what we assume to be) Jobs' essense rather than simply doing a caricature or impersonation. Whether or not he looks like Jobs (he doesn't) is beside the point. Watching him here is like watching someone play Hamlet. It's all about the content, and Fassbender is absolutely magnetic, with his three-dimensional portrait emerging as one of the powerhouse performances of the year.

While many assumed Aaron Sorkin would demonize Jobs, that's not the portrait that emerges here. While highly imperfect, Jobs does not come off as a bad person. Rather, he's simply an incredibly driven one who's incapable of conceding defeat to anyone. One of the most important aspects of the film is Jobs' evolving relationship with his daughter, who he initially refuses to admit is his, but eventually becomes part of his inner circle. The Jobs we see here has no malice, he simply doesn't like losing control of his destiny and admitting that he has a responsibility as a father to someone whose presence he does not explicitly welcome – at first. Nevertheless, he has moments of great compassion and innovation. This is a humane portrait, and Sorkin's dialogue is some of the best he's ever written.

With the screenplay and dialogue being of such primary importance, Danny Boyle's own contribution may get overlooked, but he's done an excellent, dynamic job making a dialogue-driven scenario move along at a quick pace. At two hours, STEVE JOBS is fast-moving and absorbing, and some of Boyle's choices are really interesting, like how he distinguishes between the eras. The 1984-bits are shot in gritty 16mm (while Daniel Pemberton's score is heavily electronic) before giving way to 35mm in 1988 (along with a less-electronic style of scoring) and finally pristine DV photography for the 1998 bits and a symphonic soundtrack. It's a pretty novel way to make each act feel distinct.

What it call comes down to is that STEVE JOBS is a wonderful piece of work, and one that's more akin to something like CITIZEN KANE to a traditional rags-to-riches biopic. Jobs was clearly a complicated guy, but when you're making drama, complicated is good, and this most certainly is good – maybe even great. As it is, STEVE JOBS is one of the year's absolute must-sees, and possibly the moment that star Michael Fassbender goes from the “the next big thing” to a truly “big thing.”

Source: JoBlo.com

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8:41AM on 12/24/2015
I can't even comprehend how magnetic Fassbender's performance is in this.

The rest of the cast is great as well.

I should add, Boyle/Sorkin made the fuck out of this movie.
I can't even comprehend how magnetic Fassbender's performance is in this.

The rest of the cast is great as well.

I should add, Boyle/Sorkin made the fuck out of this movie.
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11:37PM on 10/23/2015
I did really like it. I liked how the entire thing took place at the launches and how it wasn't a conventional biopic. But it didn't help me like Jobs any more. The man wasn't really so much of a pioneer than he was someone who crafted a brand. He managed to turn Apple into the hipster tech company for everyone, with flashy images and a flashy brand. However, he wasn't someone who really excelled the industry much in terms of what actually matters in people's pockets. All of the tech that
I did really like it. I liked how the entire thing took place at the launches and how it wasn't a conventional biopic. But it didn't help me like Jobs any more. The man wasn't really so much of a pioneer than he was someone who crafted a brand. He managed to turn Apple into the hipster tech company for everyone, with flashy images and a flashy brand. However, he wasn't someone who really excelled the industry much in terms of what actually matters in people's pockets. All of the tech that people carry around is boring and no one is interested in it, which is why Steve gets all the praise while other guys actually do the work that made these things happen. As much as I liked the movie, it wasn't really because of Jobs himself, but the filmmaking aspects of it. Jobs himself seems even less interesting now because the film makes him come off as someone who never actually did much legitimately besides making up some BS to the average person convincing them they need to buy Apple's latest, greatest paperweight.
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4:00PM on 10/23/2015
This was a great movie. Whether you're a fan of Steve Jobs or not, it makes you forget you're watching a "biopic" of sorts. A real character-drama. Michael Fassbender may not look like Jobs but believe me, by the end of this film, you'll agree he was the perfect actor to take on this role.
This was a great movie. Whether you're a fan of Steve Jobs or not, it makes you forget you're watching a "biopic" of sorts. A real character-drama. Michael Fassbender may not look like Jobs but believe me, by the end of this film, you'll agree he was the perfect actor to take on this role.
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3:30PM on 10/23/2015

Glad you liked it

...but if there is a movie I've given less of a shit about in the last year or so than this one, I can't think of it.
...but if there is a movie I've given less of a shit about in the last year or so than this one, I can't think of it.
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3:24PM on 10/23/2015
Love Fassbender. Glad this came out good.
Love Fassbender. Glad this came out good.
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12:53PM on 10/23/2015

Saw it last night

Boyle's decison to let Sorkin's dialogue roam free was a negative and positive. Of course, Sorkin writes beautiful dialogue but some of it could have been pulled back. That said, Boyle's direction was good and the performances were obviously great. The three girls they cast as his daughter were just perfect. If the casting failed, the movie would have fallen into itself but thank goodness they didn't mess it up because it was the emotional core of the film.
Boyle's decison to let Sorkin's dialogue roam free was a negative and positive. Of course, Sorkin writes beautiful dialogue but some of it could have been pulled back. That said, Boyle's direction was good and the performances were obviously great. The three girls they cast as his daughter were just perfect. If the casting failed, the movie would have fallen into itself but thank goodness they didn't mess it up because it was the emotional core of the film.
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12:02PM on 10/23/2015

"It's hard to overstate the importance of Steve Jobs to our modern world"

Really not that hard; some people are actually doing it everyday! The guy did not invent the personal computer, the MP3 player, the smart phone nor the tablet and yet, they act like he did.

The guy was a brilliant CEO but brilliant CEOs are not usually celebrated beyond the Business section of newspapers. He managed to create a cult of personality around him that allowed him to take all the credit for what his company was creating. A coach, no matter how great he is, depends on his players
Really not that hard; some people are actually doing it everyday! The guy did not invent the personal computer, the MP3 player, the smart phone nor the tablet and yet, they act like he did.

The guy was a brilliant CEO but brilliant CEOs are not usually celebrated beyond the Business section of newspapers. He managed to create a cult of personality around him that allowed him to take all the credit for what his company was creating. A coach, no matter how great he is, depends on his players to execute.

As for whether or not he was a bad person, he definitely was when he refused to recognize his daughter. The guy was selfish and self-centered for a big chunk of his life. He may or may not have redeemed himself in the end but that part needs to be acknowledged.
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12:47PM on 10/23/2015
Nice. I don't get the fascination with this guy.
Nice. I don't get the fascination with this guy.
1:05PM on 10/23/2015
Well said and I agree.
Well said and I agree.
11:59AM on 10/23/2015
Can't wait to see this. Film looks absolutely terrific and am glad and excited to see Fassbender deliver a tour de force performance as Jobs. The writing and dialogue from the trailers and clips from Sorkin is also another aspect of the film I can't wait to see and was one of the best aspects of The Newsroom (in my opinion) as well.
Can't wait to see this. Film looks absolutely terrific and am glad and excited to see Fassbender deliver a tour de force performance as Jobs. The writing and dialogue from the trailers and clips from Sorkin is also another aspect of the film I can't wait to see and was one of the best aspects of The Newsroom (in my opinion) as well.
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