Friday, October 30, 2015

STEVE JOBS (2015)

Written by Aaron Sorkin


Directed by Danny Boyle


Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. October 9, 2015 8:05PM



Do you think you could imagine functioning without your beloved iphone?

I'm sure you would be fine but for many, that thought would simply never enter their heads. Thanks to the genius of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, used impressive showmanship and the skill of a seasoned huckster to thoroughly convince millions during his lifetime that their lives would be unmanageable and unimaginable without one of his computer products in their hot, sweaty hands.

Under the nimble direction of Danny Boyle and an expeditious script by Aaron Sorkin, the remarkable "Steve Jobs" explores the fascinating story of the man behind the machine, both physical and metaphysical. Instead of trying to cover all of the details in Jobs' expansive history, the film is broken in to three key moments in the inventor's life. Beginning in 1984 with the launch of the Macintosh, then four years later with Jobs, after being forced out of Apple, introducing his next venture, the NeXT computer to 1998 with the return of Jobs to Apple and the unveiling of the game changer; the iMac.

There is no physical similarity but Michael Fassbender is quite effective with an understated performance as he deeply embodies the inner workings of Jobs. And it ain't pretty. Ruthlessly driven, highly demanding, self-involved and emotionally detached, the man behind the curtain turns out to be nothing more than an asshole. A very gifted and creative visionary but still an asshole.

With the "1984"-inspired commercial that played during the Super Bowl, buzz has reached a feverish pitch around the new Macintosh but with a hour to go before the reveal, Jobs refuses to begin. He wants the device to say "hello" before the audience but there's a glitch and programmer, Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlberg) doesn't think he can fix it before the launch. Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), a weary, Apple marketing executive and close confidant, wants him to be reasonable but Jobs relentlessly browbeats Hertzfeld until he gets what he wants.

Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogan), the other co-founder of Apple, shows up to plead with Jobs to publicly thank the team behind the Apple II. He refuses, proclaiming that he only wants to look forward, not back.

And waiting in the wings is Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), Jobs' former girlfriend with their daughter, Lisa. Not only is she upset that Jobs told Time Magazine that despite the paternity test determining the he's "94.1% likely to be the father" there's still 28% of the male population that could be Lisa's father but has to plead with the brand-new millionaire to provide more financial support or she'll have to go on welfare.

Sorkin's rapid fire script wastes no time revealing Jobs' abrasive manner, raving egomania and insensitivity but Fassbender's natural charm smooths out some of the jagged edges, showing glimmers of decency and kindness that the real Jobs had to have in order to have succeeded.

After a power struggle over Apple's future with the company's CEO and father figure, John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), Jobs loses the battle. Four years later with Joanna by his side, he is about to launch his newest venture, the NeXT computer. Wozniak shows up to lend support but Jobs only wants to confront him over negative statements he made to Fortune Magazine. Jobs has finally acknowledged the nine year old, Lisa as his child but still has no clear idea how to be her father.

As Apple enters the 1990's, the company has fallen on hard times leading to Sculley to be ousted and Jobs triumphantly returning home. By this point, most of his long-time close allies have either disappeared or grown impatient and fatigued from dealing with the mercurial Jobs. His relationship to the college bound, Lisa (now played by Perla Haney-Jardine) has frayed to the point that they're not speaking and refuses to pay for her education. Finally fed-up, Joanna threatens to walk away unless he makes it right with his daughter.

"Steve Jobs" had a long, tortured history beginning at Sony with Sorkin's script initially to be directed by David Fincher and Christian Bale as Jobs. Those two eventually dropped out and Boyle came aboard with Fassbender in the role. But then Sony dropped the project (with the notorious e-mail leaks indicating the casting of Fassbender to be one of the concerns) and found a new home at Universal. The Oscar-winning director has made fascinating entertainment from dark and challenging stories like "Shallow Grave", "Trainspotting", "127 Hours" and his Best Picture winner,"Slumdog Millionaire". He has achieved this once again with "Steve Jobs" by taking Sorkin's vivid but highly theatrical screenplay and keeping this chamber piece visually dynamic with the help of cinematographer, Alwin H. K├╝chler. Despite these efforts, there are moments that still feel static and repetitive but it's the outstanding performances that help keep the film in motion. Our key players, Fassbender, Winslet, Daniels and Rogan, bring much needed charm, warmth and a little humor to this somber, word-heavy affair.

As with many talented people, Steve Jobs was flawed and damaged but the volcanic "Steve Jobs" shows, despite his shortcomings, what an important, lasting impact he made on our society. For better and for worse, Jobs helped usher in the digital age, making our lives easier and much more complicated in the process.