Monday, October 12, 2015

Movie with Abe: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs
Directed by Danny Boyle
Released October 9, 2015

Steve Jobs is a household name. Even those who have little to no knowledge of the computer industry know that Jobs was inarguably the most important person involved in developing and growing Apple, one of the most popular and successful computer companies. Making a film about the late, famously temperamental Steve Jobs is a daunting task, and who better than dependable screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and the creative, ambitious director Danny Boyle to take on such a project? The result of this partnership, coupled with terrific performances from an outstanding ensemble, is nothing short of amazing.

Any fan of “The West Wing” or any Sorkin-penned film script knows that he can be relied upon to write at least three times as many lines as most humans could possibly deliver in a film or episode of normal length, and his actors have the formidable job of firing off his dialogue at rapid speed. Something truly interesting has come of Sorkin’s partnership with Boyle, a director known for “Slumdog Millionaire” and “127 Hours.” Boyle’s artistry and focus work to slow down Sorkin’s fast pace and still produce the same immensely memorable and watchable scenes at a more standard and human rate.

There is much that could be covered in a film about Jobs’ life, and the decision made by Boyle and Sorkin is a risky but strong one. Three significant events – all product launches – are chosen as the settings for this film’s scenes. All three are monstrous milestones of innovation - the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT computer in 1988, and the iMac in 1998. In the run-up to each, Jobs (Michael Fassbender) is coached by his loyal colleague Joanne (Kate Winslet) and encounters the most influential people in his life: Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), another colleague, Andy (Michael Stuhlbarg), Apple CEO John Scully (Jeff Daniels), and his illegitimate daughter Lisa and her mother Chrisann (Katherine Waterston). It is understood that these conversations may not have all happened at those exact times, or as eloquently as Sorkin writes them, but isolating Jobs’ experience to three formative moments of his life is a fascinating technique that pays off wildly in this case.

The film’s script is superb, its direction excellent, and its technical elements, particularly the cinematography by Alwin H. Kuchler, are all terrific. And then there’s the cast. Fassbender, a tremendous actor who already has delivered so many magnificent performances, is astonishing as Jobs, so consumed by his grand dreams and the fact that he is changing the world with every new product. Winslet is just as fiercely dedicated to making his right-hand woman a devoted innovator with a more realistic grasp of the possible, infusing humor and sarcasm into her performance. Rogen, Stuhlbarg, and Daniels augment the film with turns just as focused and minor as they are meant to be. This cast does an incredible job of latching on to Sorkin’s dialogue and, with Boyle’s expert, eccentric guidance, they contribute to a fantastic film that is as much the story of Apple and a part of the computer industry as it is the story of a man. Not even entering the twenty-first century or touching upon its many inventions, including the iPod, iPad, and iPhone, is a brave choice. The film could well have gone on an additional two hours and still been captivating, but the finished product as it stands is perfectly exceptional. One brilliant line stands out to summarize the film, after Jobs fires back when he is told that a few weeks wasn’t enough time that God created the world in only a week and receives the perfect response: “One day, you’ll have to tell us how you did it.”


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