Monday, 30 November 2015

Review: Steve Jobs

World of Blackout Film Review

Steve Jobs Poster

Steve Jobs
Cert: 15 / 122 mins / Dir. Danny Boyle / Trailer
WoB Rating: 4/7

Erm okay, why does Steve Jobs wash his feet in a dressing-room toilet? Is this an in-joke or reference to something I'm meant to know already? Because it's not explained either before or after, and Michael Fassbender's portrayal displays no more such eccentric (physical) behaviour for the rest of the movie. Steve's borderline-sociopathic interaction with his colleagues was already doing a fine job of painting him as a weirdo, I really didn't need that, too...

And so, the Aaron Sorkin/Danny Boyle collaboration comes to fruition in a three-act play which takes place entirely behind the scenery. Each segment focuses on the run-up to a key Apple keynote presentation (1984's Macintosh, 1988's Next and 1998's iMac) and the drama which preceded each one. Enough detail and context is deftly built into the script that little-to-no prior knowledge of the products or corporation is needed, because Boyle's is a film about dysfunctional people - not malfunctioning hardware.

Intriguingly cast with more-than-capable players, the people they're playing are perhaps less recognisable. So you never really feel like you're watching Steve Jobs; you're watching Michael Fassbender. But like I said, the main cast of young Michael, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels all give great value for money. That said, I especially enjoyed Rogen, who seems to have switched from comedic gear into dramatic by not changing his screen-personality one single jot (that's not a sarcastic criticism by the way, I genuinely love that he's done that).

Oh, and bonus points go to Michael Fassbender for maintaining his accent throughout every scene in the film's two hours (I'm on his case as far as that's concerned, as he has significant previous form). Although those points are instantly deducted for Kate Winslet's vocal stylings. After going on-record to explain her research and rehearsal of Joanna Hoffman's accent, she then doesn't use it for an entire act of the film, instead opting for a standard mid-western American tone. Which would be fine, except that it's for the first act, so we're apparently to believe that Hoffman lost her unique Polish/Armenian/US accent for 1984, but then found it again? It wouldn't even matter if Winslet didn't go on to make such a great job of it for the other two thirds of the film. You just think '…why's she started talking like that?'

Aaron Sorkin's script is bitingly funny when it needs to be, but always in a very dry, self-congratulatory way. The main focus, though, is on the human drama, yet as heated as the dialogue becomes, there's still an overall lack of emotion on-screen; like a painstakingly programmed simulation of angst, designed as some sort of reverse Turing-test. Ultimately, I have to confess that after two hours in his company, I didn't actually like Steve Jobs any more or less. I knew a lot more about him (or at least the facet presented through the film), but I was as emotionally non-committal as I was when I sat down. And while I'm not an Apple-fanboy at all, I do use their products on a daily basis, so it's not like I had no interest going in.

The theatrical settings and repeated themes make the movements of the Steve Jobs more symphonic than cinematic. It's is an incredibly well-assembled film, but one which left me as cold as we're meant to believe the man himself was in his human interactions.

That could be the very point, but I doubt it…

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
Well, I think the film will feel far more focused on a cinema screen, even though it's not inherently cinematic.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
I don't believe so.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Probably not.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Definitely not.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Michael Fassbender will be reprising his role as young Magneto in next year's X-Men: Apocalypse, a film which stars (or the voice of, at least) Oscar 'Dameron' Isaac.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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