‘Steve Jobs’ movie review: Michael Fassbender fascinates in less-than …

24 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Steve Jobs’ movie review: Michael Fassbender fascinates in less-than-flattering biopic.

You may love your iPhone, but it will never love you back. Firstly, he’s always scared of new projects, he told Mashable in a plush suite at London’s Claridges hotel ahead of the London Film Festival premiere Sunday.Jeff Daniels has been winning strong reviews for his performance as former Apple CEO John Sculley in “Steve Jobs,” but some critics have taken parts of the film to task for leaving out aspects of Jobs’ life and career. “We took out the boring parts,” Daniels says.

Same goes for its creator, or at least the dramatic-fiction version of him in “Steve Jobs.” The biopic depicts the Apple Inc. co-founder as a visionary, a philosopher, an artist, an innovator and a seven-letter “a”-word that I can’t print here. “The very nature of people is something to be overcome,” Jobs says, as damning a statement as screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, using author Walter Isaacson’s biography as a springboard, can put in his mouth. Secondly, he chose to boldly ditch the traditional “cradle to grave” biopic format for a completely different approach, basing the film around three real-life product launches and adding in imagined, behind-the-curtain scenes with various people from Jobs’ world. “Would there be people in the audience who would misunderstand the movie, take it literally?” he asks. “In other words, were there people who’d believe that Steve had confrontations with the same five people in the 40 minutes before every product launch?” Thirdly, though, and perhaps most importantly, he was intimidated because he was taking on a man, and a company, that has achieved almost mythical status in the eyes of consumers across the globe. “People have a real emotional connection, good or bad, toward him, his company and his products,” Sorkin says, leaning back in his sumptuous armchair. “There are people who love them.

The actor stopped by the Wall Street Journal to talk about “Steve Jobs” and what the real Sculley had to say to him before and after the movie came out. Buried deep in Michael Fassbender’s fascinating portrayal of Jobs is a sense of self-loathing coexisting with the man’s tyrannical egotism, although his psychological hangups – most notably, a feeling of insurmountable rejection tied to his being given up for adoption as a newborn – aren’t used as an easy excuse or explanation. We saw the outpouring of mourning and eulogising that happened after his death.” “When I began doing this, I would go to tech websites and fan sites, and places like Mashable, and virtual fist fights would break out between Apple people and non-Apple people. The assumptions that were made about people’s personalities because of what kind of phone they had, they were at the same level of intensity and passion as fans of rival sports teams.” “I don’t know, because I’m not one of those people, but here’s my guess,” Sorkin answers, pulling out an iPhone to turn between his hands and demonstrate. “Somehow, his understanding — to use just one example — that if your rectangles have rounded corners, that if you make a product in a certain way, that if you live at the intersection of art and technology, people will have an emotional attachment to their machines and devices. “They’re going to love their iPod they’re going to love their laptop.

Rather than follow the conventional blueprint of the Great Man biopic, the Oscar-winning screenwriter (The Social Network) eschewed huge portions of Jobs’ history and built a narrative that views his life through the prism of three monumental product launches, set in 1984, 1988, and 1998. We knew that we were never going to try and resemble aesthetically what he looked like, other than putting in brown contact lenses.” Written by Aaron Sorkin and loosely based on Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography, Steve Jobs is more of an impressionistic portrait, one that takes some artistic license while trying to convey greater truths about its subject and the world he helped shape. “This is a dramatization; it’s not a biopic,” Fassbender said. “I just tried to represent a human being. They’ve been etched on our public consciousness with an endless stream of books, movies, TV specials, magazine articles. jumps right into establishing these genius and asshole personalities right from the start: It’s 1984, and there’s Steve Jobs fretting about the fine points of the Macintosh unveiling event. He condescends to his Apple partner Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), the engineer/programmer yin to Jobs’ idea-man yang; in a moment designed solely to elicit a painful cringe, Jobs refers to Wozniak as “Rain Man.” Jobs routinely pushes around Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet, initially unrecognizable in big glasses and brunette wig), and you wouldn’t know by the way he treats her that she isn’t his handler and lickspittle, but rather Apple’s marketing head.

At one point, David Fincher was poised to reunite with Sorkin and direct, but when he dropped out, Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) stepped up and embraced the concept. “For the most part, this structure works,” writes EW’s Chris Nashawaty, in his B review. “Each chapter symbolizes a critical crossroads in Jobs’ career. It worked on a huge segment of the population.” Sorkin admits that he doesn’t actually remember any of the product launches that provide the structure to the film -– the 1984 Macintosh launch, the unveiling of the NeXT box in 1988, or the iMac in 1998. “In fact, until I started working on the movie I didn’t realise that these products had launches that were like movie premieres,” he says. And Boyle, who’s always been one of our most playful visual stylists, shoots each section using different film stocks (16mm, 35mm, and digital) to subliminally reboot the audience’s expectations.

I can’t sit through this again.” Then five minutes later, I was saddled in my seat barely blinking, my brain chewing every word of Aaron Sorkin’s delicious script. Michael Fassbender plays Jobs, Kate Winslet is his trusted assistant Joanna Hoffman, and Seth Rogen and Michael Stuhlbarg play Apple co-founders Steve Wozniak and Andy Hertzfeld. Jobs argues the paternity of his daughter Lisa with cold rationale and public insults – a famously awful quote in Time magazine – directed at her mother, Chrisann (Katherine Waterston).

Every section crackles with exquisite rat-a-tat dialogue (Sorkin has no peer in this regard, with the possible exception of Preston Sturges 70 years ago)…” Mastering that rat-a-tat is Michael Fassbender, who stepped into the giant role only after Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale backed away — reportedly under pressure from Jobs’ partisans — but he makes the producers look smart. She struggles to raise the kid while Jobs sits on a stock portfolio worth $440 million, and it isn’t until young Lisa plays with his inevitable financial failure, the original Macintosh computer, that he agrees to give them more than the pittance ordered by a judge. It’s a brilliant piece of filmmaking that tackles the issue of how and why, exactly, Jobs left Apple in 1985 and is partially based on notes Sculley sent Sorkin during his research. “He sent me a fantastic, comprehensive document,” Sorkin says. “If you were in the White House press corps, you’d call it a tick tock of that night, the night of the unsuccessful coup, the night that he almost flew to China but got the phone call saying ‘If you get on that plane you will not have your job when you land’, all of that. “It was fascinating, and I knew I wanted to dramatise it. We start in 1984 with the launch of the McIntosh, which lost big money and ended up with the Apple board firing Jobs–then it’s on to 1988 with Jobs introducing a cube-computer called “Next”. No one in reality talks like this, but listening to the dramatic portrayals of Steve Jobs and Joanna Hoffman (deftly played by Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet) when they’re written like conflicted heroes in a Shakespeare play is great fun.

But recently, he married a woman –- Dianne –- who’s “made it her life’s work to get him out there, to get the real story told and to give him his life back.” Jobs’ daughter Lisa –- who plays a pivotal role in the film and is present from practically its opening scene to its closer -– also opened up to Sorkin. Finally it’s 1988 and Jobs is about to introduce the iMac, which finally met and even exceeded expectations and opened to door for some of the biggest changes in technology that the world has ever seen. Sorkin’s talktalktalk is audacious in the speed with which it demands exposition be recited, entertaining in its punchlines, rife with both detail and big-idea truisms and vexatious to those yearning for realism.

Beneath it lie ruminations on the artist and the corporation, genius and commonality, the human struggle to balance intuition with intellect, passion with reason. His audition for the role and the Sorkin trademark fast-talking dialogue was being on “The Newsroom” for three years. “Steve Jobs” the movie is not based on a play, but it easily could have been. It’s shot more like a stage production than a movie, and that’s a gutsy and risky move for director Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”, “127 Hours”). If that happens as a by-product, of course it’s a nice thing — but you can’t write for that reason.” Woz, Sculley, Mac development team member Andy Hertzfeld and Apple comms expert Andy Cunningham have all reacted positively to the movie, Sorkin says, “in contrast to Tim Cook, [his widow] Laurene Jobs and Jony Ive, who haven’t -– but neither have they seen the movie.

And again, I wish they’d reserve judgement.” Cook actually went so far as to call the film “opportunistic,” prompting Sorkin to insist “nobody did this movie to get rich” and add, “If you’ve got a factory full of children in China assembling phones for 17 cents an hour, you’ve got a lot of nerve calling someone else opportunistic.” Sorkin has since apologised, but told us he hasn’t heard from Cook since –- glancing towards the dictaphone as he says it. A terrific display of ensemble acting unfolds as Jobs prepares backstage, and the aforementioned key characters return for each act, cycling in and out of his presence, arguing for acknowledgement, trying to meet his exacting demands or reminding him that he’s not just a remarkable businessman, but also a terrible friend and father. It’s an idea as old as the hills – that people are more important than work, even though that work sometimes changes the way we interact with the world. Not a spoiler: Jobs’ years-long struggle to execute his vision has a happy ending, especially obvious if you’re reading this review on an iPhone, Macbook or iPad. Edgar Hoover’s cross dressing.” It was a “dream job,” he says, but he had to pass. “I was very uncomfortable with putting the words into the mouths of Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, people like that.

I just thought, that’s off limits for me, right now.” “You know how in a cartoon strip, whether it’s Peanuts or Doonesbury, all of the characters look different, but they’re plainly all drawn by the same person?” he says. “They’ve all got a distinctive nose, or feet that look like dinner rolls. Unburdened by the distraction of spot-on impersonation and conventional Great Man milestones, Fassbender and his fascinating, often off-putting character steer clear of the dreaded biopic shallows to explore murkier psychological depths.” “What Sorkin and Boyle have to offer is not a warts-and-all portrait but the suggestion that there is something heroic about a wart.

Schaltz draws feet. “Once I was able to define that I was putting these events into the context of a writer’s conceit, and not a docudrama, not a dramatised Wikipedia page, I felt fine making [people like] Woz talk.” He’s the deftest superficial director alive.” “It’s interesting to imagine what Fincher, with his eagle eye for vanity and other human follies, might have made of Sorkin’s genially misanthropic script.

Most of all, you get the strong sense from Fassbender of a mind that is always several steps beyond everyone else’s, one that allows him to shift gears without taking a breath.” “Some of the best scenes take place between Jobs and Wozniak, who are more like McCartney and Lennon than they realize, with each possessing necessary qualities that the other lacks, and each both resenting and loving the other guy for it. The movie argues that a big part of Jobs’ genius was his sense of showmanship, and that his enormous ego was both hindrance and boon: He simply refused to be wrong, even when he was.” Just before Jobs takes the stage to announce the iMac—the first Jobs product to really change things—he shares a tender moment of light mutual understanding with his then-19-year old daughter. When Alex Gibney’s critical documentary about Jobs was released last month, I noted that it’s important to acknowledge what a shitfuck Jobs was to everyone around him.

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