January 26, 2016

Steve Jobs (2015)

Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Bridges, Seth Rogan

I'm not totally sure why directors are cranking out Steve Jobs movies faster than re-makes The Hulk and Spiderman, but it being Aaron Sorkin and all, I figured it had to be better than the one starring Ashton Kutcher.

Aaron Sorkin is amazing. That's not an opinion--it's fact. Between The West Wing and The Social Network, and the short-lived The Newsroom, he draws viewers in with intelligent, fast-paced dialogue and multi-dimensional characters you simultaneously love and hate. This movie is rife with his "signature," with continuous motion throughout a dialogue-driven drama through scenes of people walking and talking. He keeps the movie from becoming what could have easily been a simple, boring techie biography by using sharp wit and tension-filled interactions. Of course, that leads to an unbelievable frequency of "run-ins" between people who would obviously not be meeting at that moment, and other dramatic licenses that take away a bit from the realistic feeling of a true biography. And the frequent usage of technical computer language with no further explanation left me feeling like I wish I knew what the people were talking about. It could totally be a personal problem, of course, since this movie is mostly about computers and technology, but it's never fun to feel like you're stupider than the movie you're watching.

Luckily, it being a biography of a person and a company whose products launched all throughout my childhood, I have vivid memories of their products and it was exciting to watch the back story parallel what I remember as a member of the public. For instance, the launch of the iMac. God that thing was cool. Pretty much every school had a computer lab filled with boring, standard PCs and one, bright orange iMac that every student fought over when it came time to play Oregon Trail. By punctuating different points of this story with these iconic moments, the movie keeps engaging an audience who might otherwise be bored with what an asshole Steve Jobs appears to be.

or wearing tight t-shirts
Aaaaaand we're back to Sorkin. This movie reminds me of The Social Network so much in that Sorkin takes an iconic figure, and portrays him in a mostly negative light, yet keeps the audience rooting for him to succeed. (Which is weird, since really, we all know what happens to both Zuckerberg and Jobs in real life.) Sorkin also manages to make the movie succeed, despite someone playing the main role that's sort of dislikable. With The Social Network, it was the deplorable Jesse Eisenberg. Here, it's Michael Fassbender. Not that he is anywhere on par with Eisenberg (who actually succeeded in the role), but I thought Fassbender was an odd choice for the role. Fassbender tends to play more sexually provocative roles that require him to be at least partially nude. Steve Jobs is about as far from being sexually provocative as well, Seth Rogan. So I guess his casting made more sense.

Then we arrive at Kate Winslet. Sigh. I love her. I really do. If I had to make a Top 5 Women in Hollywood list, she would be on it. (Not that kind of Top 5.) But between her stealing my baby name and her appearance in Divergent, she's starting to slip. Here, she plays a former Soviet who inexplicably sticks with Jobs through his tumultuous career. The problem? Her accent is nearly undetectable for the first 10 minutes of the film. It's bizarre. Once it's there, it's spot on--like someone who used to live in the USSR but has lived here long enough for the accent to fade a bit. But still. Kate Winslet is better than an accent that's not consistent throughout. I'm not sure how no one else has seemed to notice it. Then again, the Academy also seems to be overly impressed by pretty people "uglying up" for a movie, so maybe that's why she was nominated.

It's a well done film, as one would expect from the [previously established] amazing Sorkin. But as someone who made that switch from a PC to a Mac, I wonder if I'm the only person who isn't as enamored with Jobs. Many of the criticisms lobbed at him throughout the movie are completely valid, and I've never quite understood his God-like status among so many consumers. (I mean, really, people camp out for days just to be the first to buy new Apple products. They're not giving them away for free, people!) So my tepid reaction to this movie maybe stems from the fact that I wasn't all that interested in the subject to begin with. Well and, you know, the sappy ending.

Final word: It certainly didn't make me like Apple products any more.

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