‘Steve Jobs’ Seen Through Product Launches

1 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Director’s Darling: Kate Winslet Stars in the Highly Anticipated Film ‘Steve Jobs’.

Can a single movie haunt an entire film festival? “Steve Jobs,” Danny Boyle’s scathing, scary, biographical portrait starring Michael Fassbender, may leave you with the creepy sensation that its subject has crawled inside your head and hijacked your mind. Michael Fassbender plays Jobs, who died in 2011, as an arrogant, self-absorbed jerk who abandoned his first child and still feels betrayed that as an infant he was placed for adoption.WINNING A CLOSETFUL of trophies—including an Oscar, three Golden Globes, an Emmy and a Grammy—would be enough, one might assume, to ensure an actress like Kate Winslet her pick of plum roles.

The story started two weeks ago when Tim Cook was a guest in The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on September 15, and the showman asked him about the movie about the deceased Apple-founder’s life (Cook’s ex-boss).TORONTO (AP) — There are so many reasons for Kate Winslet to feel great about the new “Steve Jobs” movie that it doesn’t matter that critics panned the 2013 film “Jobs,” which was also about the Apple Computer co-founder. “I have no reservations whatsoever and so excited to be a part of this project,” Winslet said in a recent interview at the Toronto Film Festival. As I watched the movie — the New York Film Festival’s centerpiece, to be shown Saturday at Lincoln Center — I thought of a cult leader wheedling his worshipful flock to follow him and drink the Kool-Aid.

The film, which opens Oct. 9, is filled with the clever wordplay, machine-gun verbal abuse and pop-culture non sequiturs that became Sorkin trademarks in “The Social Network” and the television series “The West Wing” and “The Newsroom.” In a twist on the traditional biopic, the script is more character study than biography, focusing on three moments in Jobs’s career. The present CEO of Apple first told him what a great man was and how good it was working with him, and then – suggesting that the moviemakers are just unprincipled money seekers – said: “many people are just seeking profit,” which he really hates. Newswhile promoting her new movie, Steve Jobs. “I want to start making bone broths.” “Taking a whole bunch of bones and putting them in a pressure cooker with lots of chopped-up leeks and onions and celery and all that stuff, and you make this amazing restorative bone broth,” she said. “You boil it up for like 12 hours and it cures you of all ailments.” “It’s full of gelatin and fat and has bone marrow and I think it is very good to keep yourself young,” Hayek, who drinks a cup a day, told People recently. “If you do the right fat, I think that is the key.”

We go backstage for tense, character-revealing conversations before the flashy introductions of the Macintosh computer in 1984, the ill-fated NeXT computer in 1988 and the iMac in 1998. Take her latest project, this month’s Steve Jobs, Aaron Sorkin’s examination of the Apple co-founder. “It didn’t come to me; I went to it,” Winslet says of her part as Jobs’s confidante, friend and marketing chief, Joanna Hoffman.

Understandably, Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter took these not so nice words to his heart, and shortly after, he stroke back in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “Nobody did this movie to get rich. A counterbalance to that film’s futuristic chill is Michael Moore’s jolly new travelogue, “Where to Invade Next,” in which this left-wing filmmaker jokingly imagines “invading” other countries, mostly in Europe and Scandinavia, and importing their advantages.

When she first heard the film was in the works, with Danny Boyle directing and Michael Fassbender in the title role, she said to herself, “I’ve got to get in on this gig.” She arches an eyebrow before recalling her next thought: “Well, f—ing great. We watch the evolution of Jobs’s difficult relationships with his daughter Lisa (age 5 in the first scene), her mother Chrisann Brennan and several close colleagues. How the hell am I supposed to make that happen?” As it turns out, Winslet’s account of how she landed the part is worthy of a classic Kate Hepburn caper, only with bluer language.

Third, 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 said. There is hardly a digital product to be seen. “Steve Jobs” draws a cinematic dividing line between a shiny new digital future and the scruffy old past, and it envisions a man-machine interface in which people merge with devices that ultimately separate them from others.

It is, after al, where her current Oscar resides. “The whole point is for everybody to pick it up and go, ‘I’d like to thank my son and my dad’—and you can always tell when someone has, because they’re in there a little bit longer after they flushed,” she tells the magazine. “They’ll come out looking slightly pink-cheeked. It’s hysterical.” As she approaches her 40th birthday, Winslet has a lot to be thankful for, and no longer being a victim of self-critiscm is one of them. “Thank God all that s**t’s evaporated,” she says. “We all focus on our bodies in our late teens and our early 20s, in a way that is just not cool or healthy. Aaron Sorkin decided that there was no interest for him in writing it in that way,” explained Winslet, who was in Toronto to promote another film, “The Dressmaker.” “Each act covers a different year: 1984, ‘88 and ‘98 in Steve Jobs’ creative working life,” Winslet said. “We shot each act in chronological order, one act at a time.” “It was very, very challenging. Get in there, remind them I’m around.” After some quick research on Hoffman, she discovered that the former executive was an apple-cheeked Eastern European brunette with a volumetric ’80s bob. “I bet you they just don’t picture someone like me doing this,” thought Winslet, a tall British blonde with patrician cheekbones who first won hearts playing a rebellious English beauty in films such as Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Titanic (1997). Now I view my physical self as an instrument that I have to keep going because I’m a mother, and I have to be as healthy as I can for those three people who need me—more than I need for myself to be in a f***ing nude scene.”

Controlling, paranoid, hypercompetitive, selfish and manipulative, he suggests a robotic artificial intelligence pretending to be human and often failing miserably. Hertzfeld replies: “Well, someday you’ll have to tell us how you did it.” Apple executive John Sculley jokes with Jobs during a heart-to-heart meeting before the NeXT launch. “Don’t play stupid. So she enlisted her husband, Ned RocknRoll, dispatching him to a wig shop. “I threw on this short, dark-haired wig, took all the makeup off my face, took a photograph and sent it—with no subject, nothing.” “I didn’t know who it was,” Boyle says of the picture he received from producer Scott Rudin, with whom Winslet has worked regularly since 2001’s Iris. The movie titled Steve Jobs will be released in American theaters on October 9, but other countries’ audiences will have to wait for it until next January. Rudin revealed it was her, telling Boyle, “Believe me, you won’t want to work with anyone else.” Boyle flew to Melbourne and found himself discussing the part with Winslet early one morning before she headed off for another day of filming. “She had a bee in her bonnet,” says Boyle. “And when [actors like that] have a bee in their bonnets, they are just perfect to work with.” Sorkin was flabbergasted that Winslet was willing to play a supporting role. “When she said she wanted to play Hoffman, my first thought was, ‘Why is Kate Winslet playing a really mean joke on me?’ ” Nevertheless, “I felt f—ing triumphant,” Winslet says about landing the part, pumping her fist from a couch in New York’s Crosby Street Hotel, where she is enjoying a brief, rare sojourn without her children: 14-year-old Mia, her daughter with her first husband, indie filmmaker Jim Threapleton; 11-year-old Joe, with her second, director Sam Mendes; and Bear (who turns 2 in December), her son with RocknRoll, whom she married in 2012. “It’s only the second time I’ve ever left the baby,” says Winslet, who typically travels en famille and plans her films around school schedules. “People assume that [actors] go off for months on end.

Fassbender’s Jobs, however powerful, pales beside the complexity and hypnotic power of the actual man depicted in Alex Gibney’s recent documentary “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine,” a must-see companion piece to Mr. Her blue, eagle-like eyes narrow as she shares another affront: “Just a couple of hours ago, my publicist sent an email saying that some journalist from the Daily Mail has a picture of me from an event last night and is saying that I appear to have lost all the baby weight and how did I do that? The figure straddling the line between old and new in Jobs’s personal pantheon is Bob Dylan, as mysterious and enigmatic today as in the early 1960s. Because of the name list mentioned above, it’s no exaggeration to say that the movie coming in October can be one of the blockbusters of the year at the cash registers and for critics as well. People’s lives don’t play out in a series of scenes that form a narrative.” The backstage scenes also are imagined but the topics the characters discuss are based on research.

The film in the festival’s middle section that most strongly echoes Jobs’s obsession with science and technology is Michael Almereyda’s “Experimenter,” a portrait of the social scientist Stanley Milgram (a mesmerizing Peter Sarsgaard), who in one of many surreal touches is seen being followed around by an elephant. The anxiety hasn’t lessened, even though she’s been acting since she was a 14-year-old dubbing voice-overs in a basement recording studio on London’s South Audley Street. Milgram created the notorious 1961 obedience study at Yale in which test subjects, situated out of sight of one another, were assigned the roles of “teacher” and “learner.” The learner was asked multiple-choice questions that, if answered incorrectly, provoked remote-controlled electric shocks administered by the teacher.

The screenwriter hadn’t come up with a narrative structure until he heard that just before the 1984 launch, Jobs was furious that his engineers couldn’t get the Mac to say “hello” to the audience. It was important to Winslet to do justice to Hoffman, who in 1980 was the fifth person hired to the Macintosh team, a band of renegades operating under a pirate flag that was later hoisted above their building on the Apple campus. On the other side of what might be called the festival’s digital divide are three French films, two of which concern that favorite Gallic topic, l’amour. At the time, she constituted the entire marketing department and helped position the Mac in a PC market then dominated by IBM IBM 1.75 % and Commodore. The most intense of several interlocking stories is Paul’s tormented relationship with Esther (the charismatic Lou Roy-Lecollinet), an irresistible teenage siren.

And yet she was deeply loyal, following him to his educational computer company NeXT when he left Apple the year after the Mac launch, before she eventually departed for General Magic and then retired in 1995, at age 40. (After Jobs married Laurene Powell in 1991, the newlyweds moved into a house close to Hoffman’s in Palo Alto, California, where Jobs lived until his death in 2011.) “I loved the way that [Joanna] didn’t suffer fools, in particular Steve,” says Winslet. “Anytime a woman can keep a hotheaded male with a reputation for being a bit of a loose cannon in check, that’s an amazing quality. She tells this one story,” says Winslet, effortlessly shifting accents as she mimics Hoffman: “ ‘Oh my God, I worked so hard on these [marketing] projections, and then my assistant came to me and said, “Steve’s changed the projections.” I remember running up the stairs, thinking, I swear I’m going to put a knife in his chest.’ ” Satisfied cackle from Winslet. “Joanna very much saw herself as his equal, as a colleague. Philippe Garrel’s perceptive black-and-white “In the Shadow of Women” examines marital infidelity and the different ways a couple, Pierre (Stanislas Merhar) and Manon (Clotilde Courau), documentary filmmakers, deal with it. She wasn’t afraid of him, ever,” she adds. “They really admired and respected each other.” Winslet and her co-star, Fassbender, seem equally well matched. “It was crucial that this character be able to stand toe-to-toe with Jobs, that she not be pushed off the screen,” says Sorkin. “And since you couldn’t push Kate Winslet off the screen with a bulldozer, it was a real sight to see.” Off-screen, she and Fassbender got on well, perhaps because they are both “one-man shows,” as Winslet puts it. “No other people faffing around him. An American movie that in places has the flavor of a French farce is Rebecca Miller’s serious screwball comedy, “Maggie’s Plan,” set in New York City and starring Greta Gerwig as the title character.

Then you’ve got no one else to blame if you f— up.” Jobs is structured in three acts—often shot in long takes with few interruptions—featuring nine principal characters, depicting three key scenes from Jobs’s life spanning 1984 to 1998. Maggie, a single woman and control freak, falls in love with John (Ethan Hawke), a married professor and aspiring novelist just as she is about to impregnate herself with donated sperm. Don’t ask me what I’m doing on Saturday night.’ ” In fact, she planned Fassbender’s weekends for him, so he wouldn’t have to think about it. “She was always doing things like booking hotels for me to get away and restaurants and trying to make sure that I was looking after myself,” Fassbender says. “She’s a tremendous asset to have on set—she brought her vast experience in all areas. To quote its unofficial Bruce Springsteen theme song, which is heard twice in the film, its characters are all “dancing in the dark.” On the festival’s low-tech end, “Don’t Blink — Robert Frank” is an informal portrait of Mr. I’d look up and she’d be resetting the background, because she’d memorized where it all went.” He adds, “She’s the most organized person I’ve ever met, while giving the impression that she’s unorganized.

Frank’s book “The Americans,” his groundbreaking survey of everyday American faces photographed in the tradition of Walker Evans, remains his crowning achievement. She was doing it all herself.” MAKING IT ON HER OWN has been Winslet’s way since growing up in Berkshire, England, with her parents, two sisters and one brother. Two years later, she was cast in her first movie, Peter Jackson’s edgy indie drama Heavenly Creatures, which garnered critical raves for its depiction of an obsessive friendship turned murderous. “When I was 17, I was absolutely out there—working hard and seeing the world as a consequence of that,” she says. Nevertheless, nothing could prepare her for the juggernaut of 1997’s Titanic, in which she co-starred with Leonardo DiCaprio, who remains a close friend. The couple had a son, Joe, born that same year, and for the next seven years shared a vibrant creative partnership, with Mendes directing her in 2008’s Revolutionary Road, which co-starred DiCaprio and was, portentously, about a failing marriage.

The couple split in 2010. “I know lots of people who are not in the public eye who have gone through several marriages, I really do, and it’s just those are the cards that life dealt me. I didn’t plan on its being that way,” Winslet says. “And f— me, it hasn’t been easy, you know.” Noting that the tabloids tried and failed to detail how and why her earlier marriages unraveled, she adds, “No one really knows what has happened in my life. And I’m proud of those silences.” As for her new husband, RocknRoll, born Edward Abel Smith (he legally changed his name in 2008), she says, “Thank God for Ned—really.

None of that means anything until he can admit that despite having made all the most beautiful things, he is himself poorly made.” “We very much functioned as though we were preparing to perform a play,” Ms. And to all of us.” The two met by chance while both were on vacation on Necker Island, a private resort owned by RocknRoll’s uncle, Richard Branson.

Winslet says. “We would rehearse each act and learn it like a play, so that by the time we got onto the set, we really knew all our lines inside out, back-to-front, and upside down. At home, on most days, she is up at 6 a.m., cooking breakfast and getting the kids ready for school—not the stereotypical image of a movie star. “Do you have to use that word?” she asks, wincing. “I’ve always been so uncomfortable with that. I just don’t feel like one, and I don’t live like one either—not the way I imagine a proper movie star living.” A recent splurge was a 1955 Morris Minor Traveller, a classic English wood-paneled station wagon, which she spotted with a For Sale sign while driving. “To me, that was a big thing,” she says. Suddenly there will be some song coming from her iPhone and I’m like, ‘Hang on, what’s that song?’ She goes, ‘Oh, Mom, it’s from Eternal Sunshine, duh,’ ” she says, laughing. “Oh yeah, I remember.” Winslet herself can stand to see her films only once after each is finished. It’s hysterical.” While Winslet tries to keep her private life private, she is uninhibited in front of the camera. “Sometimes, there are sides to the character that I don’t even like, or something that character has experienced that I might not like to have to feel.

I want to grow and I want to change and I want to freak myself out.” Part of that process will be turning 40 this month, a birthday Winslet is sanguine about. “I have not wasted a second,” she says with a smile. “Good God, have I made the most of those 40 years.”

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