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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Steve Jobs | Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Seth Rogen | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

 

Steve Jobs

Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the screenplay for Steve Jobs that he partially adapted from Walter Isaacson's authorized Jobs biography, was the same person that scripted The Social Network, which was about the founder of Facebook.  Sorkin must fancy delving into the lives of real life brilliant, inventive, but ruthless guys, who have changed the world thanks to their revolutionary ideas, because the focus of his latest movie fits that mold to a T.

Michael Fassbender looks nothing like Steve Jobs. Yet the actor does a magnificent job (no pun intended) capturing the essence of the late computer visionary and icon, who died in 2011 of complications from pancreatic cancer, when he was only 56. Fassbender totally immerses himself into the role that will most likely garner him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

With Oscar winning director Danny Boyle (Slum Dog Millionaire) at the helm, the story is structured like a three act play, with most of the action taking place backstage, behind the scenes just before each of three product launches, beginning with the launch of the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT cube in 1988, and concluding with the unveiling of iMac in 1998.

Featuring Sorkin's trademark rapid fire, often sharp dialogue, and excellent performances from the entire cast, the narrative centers on Jobs' personal and business struggles that took place while he was trying to make his vision a reality and revolves around heated exchanges with major characters with whom he butted heads.

Jobs is portrayed as a difficult man. He was a ruthless, arrogant, egomaniac, control freak and master manipulator who was indifferent to whether people disliked him. He was driven, with a focus on what he wanted and would not allow anything, or anyone, to stand in his way.

The only one who was able to stand up to the demanding, and often cruel, Jobs, was his marketing director, close friend and confidante, or “work wife” as she calls herself, Joanna Hoffman (beautifully portrayed by a dark haired, Kate Winslet with hint of East European accent). Jobs is so self absorbed that he refuses to acknowledge his paternity to Lisa (played by Makenzie Moss at age 5, Ripley Sobo at 9, and Perla Haney-Jardine at 19 ) the product of a relationship with his ex-girlfriend Chrissann Brennan (Katherine Waterston) who shows up on occasion with her daughter insisting that the multi millionaire give her money to support Lisa. The father/daughter relationship is what stands as the emotional core of the film.

Other major characters include Steve “Woz” Wozniak (Seth Rogan, delivering his best, most dramatic performance yet), a  brilliant engineer and Apple co-founder who helped Jobs create the personal computer back in a garage, but was filled with resentment as Jobs took all the credit, refusing to acknowledge Woz's significant role as well as the efforts of his Apple II team of engineers. At one point, an angry Woz asks Jobs, “What do you do?” Considering himself a conductor of ideas, Jobs responded, “I play the orchestra.” “It's not binary. You can be decent and gifted at the same time”, says Woz.

There is also John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), a father figure who is hired to be CEO of Apple and then fires Jobs in a boardroom dispute, and Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), one of the original members of the Macintosh team.

Make no mistake.  This film is not really a bio pic but rather an interesting character study of a flawed genius and glimpse into some pivotal events and occasional flashbacks, that defined Steve Jobs' rise to fame as a tech icon.

While many may love this unconventional approach to the subject matter, it didn't totally work for me.  Mention of Jobs being rejected by his biological parents shortly after his birth and subsequent adoption is inferred as the cause of his lack of compassion and his fervent need to always be in control.  But, there is nothing else revealed about his earlier formative years or how he met Chrissann.

Asked to explain why he had trouble accepting the fact he was Lisa's biological father, Jobs replied 'I'm poorly made.' Though far from it, this film has it flaws, and unlike the tech guru, hinders it from being brilliant.

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