Thursday, October 29, 2015

Movie Review #331: "Steve Jobs" (2015)

Movie"Steve Jobs"
Director: Danny Boyle
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 2 minutes
Image Source
The discussions that take place between Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) and many different people in his life before three major history-defining product launches. 
"The very nature of people is something to be overcome."
Ladies and gentlemen, the third movie about Steve Jobs in 2 years, "Steve Jobs"!!

Taking a different approach than the films that came before it, "Steve Jobs" is not a really a biopic, but rather a character sketch of the man Steve Jobs, played here by Michael Fassbender. It gives audiences a complete idea of who Steve Jobs was both behind the scenes and publicly, as well as what type of person he was without giving a step-by-step thorough the history of either Apple or Jobs' life. If you are looking for something like this, it might be best to look into watching "Jobs," or even excellent the made-for-TV movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley." Though many things that are discussed in the film did actually happen, the manner of how, when, and where they were discussed is most definitely fictional and condensed for the sake of dramatics. This film takes place behind the scenes before three major product launches: the Macintosh, the NeXT computer, and the iMac. Before each presentation begins, people from Steve's past and present come to meet with him to discuss whatever is pressing to them at the time. These people consist of six primary characters each representing a different part of Steve's life. Those characters are: Steve's loyal assistant Joanna Hoffman, played by Kate Winslet, who often acts as a buffer between Steve and everyone else; she helps keep everything in order, running smoothly, and often acts as a voice of reason for Jobs in moments of intense crisis and reflection. Next, there's Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, played quite well by Seth Rogen, who fights constantly for recognition for those who really helped build Apple and also helped keep it afloat while so many of Jobs' pet-projects failed. Third, there's programmer Andy Hertzfeld, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, who often takes a verbal beating from Jobs as he does everything he can to do the programming grunt work that will actually make all of Steve's innovations function properly. Fourth, there's long time Apple CEO John Sculley, played by the dramatic Jeff Daniels, who discusses the business side of Apple and takes us through its ups and downs of what was done right and done wrong. Fifth, there is Steve's daughter Lisa, played by different actresses at different stages in her life, and finally, Lisa's mom Chrisann Brennan, played by Katherine Waterson, who of course represent Steve's personal life and many of his faults as he regularly rejects his daughter Lisa despite there being no doubt she is his. This cast of character vies for Steve's attention in the moments leading up to these product launches, all while the man himself

Quite frankly, when push comes to shove, BigJ and I are not Apple people. We don't subscribe to the Apple way of thinking and never quite got the appeal, other than some flashy marketing campaigns and gizmos and gadgets in all their shiny, new glory. I, however, grew up in an Apple household, working on many Mac computers during my childhood. It might sound crass to say, but we've never really cared for or about Steve Jobs because of this, so you know a movie is well crafted and well constructed when it makes you actually care about someone you'd normally not really think twice about in your day-to-day life. Most of this has to do with the precision-point screenplay, which breathes a new life into the man, the myth, and the legend himself, even if it is dramatized and full of flare. Writer Aaron Sorkin, known for his Academy Award winning screenplay writing on "The Social Network," offers some fast-paced, sharp and wonderfully constructed dialogue that is fully enthralling. Though the movie is two hours in length, we never once felt like it dragged as we were wholly engrossed and locked onto everything happening on screen. There were some scenes in this movie that were more dramatic and action-packed than some of the actual action movies that have come out this year, proving that words can be just as dangerous as swords. Though this writing is fantastic, the film would be nothing without Michael Fassbender leading the way. He is exceptional as the titular man Steve Jobs and puts on an award worthy performance. As the co-founder and front-man for Apple computers, Steve Jobs has almost been deified by many people, yet they often forget what an ego-maniacal, self-centered prick he really was as he demeaned and often berated his employees and his friends. Sure, he was a marketing genius and a shrewd business man of the highest order, but he definitely wasn't the nicest guy in the world and that can be difficult for some to see over their blind devotion to the products he helped pioneer. This movie doesn't shy away from Jobs' low points and sometimes even embraces them in Fassbender's performance, using his gravitas as a weapon for and against those he encounters. Second to Fassbender is Kate Winslet, who is generally great here, but whose only flaw is a less than perfect Eastern European accent. Seth Rogen, as we mentioned, is excellent as Steve Wozniack in this more muted, fidgety performance where he even changed his laugh (which is a good thing, because have you heard him laugh for real?). Though Woz himself has said "accuracy is second to entertainment in a movie like this," he admits a lot of the context might be amplified but resonates the same feelings and expressions he had while fighting with Jobs for the recognition the Apple 2 team deserved.

There is probably a good portion of the population who is simply tired of hearing about Steve Jobs and seeing movies made about him every few years or so. Judging by the opening weekend performance of this film, this is most certainly the case. Whether you love him or hate him, you can't deny the powerhouse he helped create, even if he didn't "put a hammer to a nail." There is no denying that "Steve Jobs" is a film with great performances, stellar directing by Danny Boyle, and writing by Aaron Sorkin that fluctuates between sardonic, tense, and introspective. It is certainly worth seeing from a film standpoint alone.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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