Monday, October 19, 2015

Film Review: Steve Jobs 4/4

When Michael Fassbender took on the role to portray Steve Jobs in Universal Studios' film, Steve Jobs, like most people, I wondered how much makeup and wigs would come into play for us to believe that Michael is Steve. But wearing only brown contact lenses and having 1980s and 1990s hair styles, it appears that was all Michael needed to force the audience to become enthralled with his Steve Jobs. It is a sign of the true gift this actor has to transform himself with little assistance into becoming an icon of the 21st century; an icon who single handily changed the way we use computers, mobile phones, and communicate around the world.

Steve Jobs chronicles the product launches of three phases of Steve's career beginning in 1984 with the Mcintosh computer, then in 1988 with Next, and ending in 1998 with the first generation iMac. Michael Fassbender showcased the extremely complex Steve Jobs as someone so driven and so focused in seeing his vision for computers to make the lives of people more efficient, that he more often than not, came across as a ruthless bully, arrogant, demanding, and selfish person. Steve Jobs would have been an entirely different film had it focused more on his personal life, and his routine interactions with the product development teams at Apple HQ. However, writer Aaron Sorkin, and director Danny Boyle focused on the man and the scenes backstage prior to three hallmark product launches where snap shots are revealed of his relationships with key business players and partners, a glimpse into his past regarding his adoption (which is a core plot clue in regards to his difficulty in being empathetic with others), and the drama surrounding his denial of being the father of his ex-girlfriend's daughter.

Supporting Steve Jobs through thick and thin is Joanna Hoffman, wonderfully played by Kate Winslet. The marketing executive considered herself as Steve's 'work wife' in helping him be the best he could be. She was one of the few people who weren't scared or intimidated by Steve, because she knew him better than anyone else. She loved him dearly in a platonic way, and it upset her how Steve treated his daughter Lisa. Through Steve's relationship with Joanna, we see some glimpses of a person who was capable of being a decent human being.  Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, had a great scene with Steve Jobs before the iMac launch, which provided much needed context to flesh out the backstory of Steve's firing and re-hiring at Apple, as well as the true nature of Jobs' originality and talent in developing the tools that were the genesis of what we all use today. Another pivotal character was played by Jeff Daniels as the former CEO of Apple, John Sculley. The paternal role that John had in Steve's life helped him fulfill his vision for the Macintosh, however, that relationship soured due to poor sales and a Board room revolt against Steve.

With so many changes going on with the evolution of his computer products, one thing remained the same; Steve's developing relationship with his daughter Lisa, a child he long denied was his because he was just an asshole about it. Years later, he told Lisa that he was a broken person, as if that was the explanation for his behavior towards her. Steve resented being adopted and perhaps this early in life emotional trauma set the stage for Steve Jobs to be the difficult person he was. But he wasn't always a maniacal  dictator, and the movie revealed the human and compassionate side of Steve Jobs.

Michael Fassbender did a remarkable job in bringing the personality of Steve Jobs to life. Michael embodied Steve Jobs in a fair and respectable light. He was as much a bully with an iron fist, and someone who had the capacity to care about someone other than himself. This is a difficult person to like, but somehow, Michael makes you try to understand where Steve Jobs is coming from, and empathize with him at least on a very base human level, especially if you are a faithful user of Apple products. Michael's American accent was fine and I'm just greatly impressed with how verbose the script was with every sentence spoken being compelling dialogue that demanded your attention. If you are at least 35 years old, the 14-year time frame of this film is a period of innovation you will recognize and reflect upon; and the last 13 years of Steve's life means something to you also because you're benefiting from the computer products that he dedicated his life, vision, and reputation on to see to fruition.

Steve Jobs was not perfect, nor was he very likable, but he was a fellow human being who cared about how to help make the lives of us all more efficient, and that's something that demands respect and an appreciation for, and that's what I think that Michael, Danny, and Aaron are trying to convey with Steve Jobs.

Grade: 4 stars - Excellent

Coincidentally, while I was watching Steve Jobs at the Birmingham 8 theater Sunday afternoon, Michael Fassbender and his Steve Jobs co-stars were on the red carpet to show Steve Jobs as the closing film of the BFI London Film Festival. Here are a few images:

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