STEVE JOBS (USA/15A/122mins)
Directed by Danny Boyle. Starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston.
THE PLOT: Over the course of 16 years, Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) goes from the shining star of Apple, to being fired after the failture of the Macintosh, to back where he started as head of the company. In the meantime, he fights the idea that he is the father of Lisa Brennan, pushes away those who have helped make Apple great, and rejects the father figure he sees in mentor John Sculley (Jeff Daniels).
THE VERDICT: With screenwriter Aaron Sorkin behind the script for ‘Steve Jobs’, it is fairly obvious that this is not going to be a hagiography of the man who brought us the iPod, iPhone and iMac, but instead tries to tell the story of just how Jobs became so powerful and successful.
Michael Fassbender is strong in the leading role, having no trouble making Jobs defiant, argumentative and more than a little unlikeable. As the film progresses and Jobs begins to grow and change as a person, these changes are evident, but Fassbender always makes sure that Jobs is the same person deep down. Kate Winslet – fluctuating accent aside – is engaging as Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’ confidant and the woman who consistently challenges him. The rest of the cast is made up of Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg and Katherine Waterston, but since most of the film is made up conversation, arguments and confessionals between Winslet and Fassbender, they have significantly less to do, other than to challenge Jobs from time to time.
As mentioned, Aaron Sorkin seems to have been at pains for his screenplay to show Steve Jobs not just as the man who put amazing technology in our pockets, but a fully rounded and flawed human being. Showing the change – as well as the lack of change – that the character goes through, simply by focusing on three days of his life, with some flashbacks for good measure, gives the audience a feel for the person Jobs was, and the changes he went through as he got older and more successful. The most interesting relationship is, of course, with Joanna Hoffman, and there are some wonderful scenes between the two characters, including a gentle reversal of power toward the end of the film.
Director Danny Boyle manages to keep the story moving, even though it is told in relatively short amounts of cinematic time, and makes sure that the film is as much about Steve Jobs the person as the technology he has created. There is an incredible story arc for the character that is not hammered too hard, but there are times when the squabbling and the arguing feels more like an episode of a TV show than a cinematic event. As well as this, although the framing device of setting the film backstage of three of Jobs’ most important shareholder addresses is a clever one, it does begin to feel claustrophobic, and although we learn a lot in very little time, at times there is a feeling that a wider story could have been less cluttered.
In all however, ‘Steve Jobs’ feels like an accurate portrait of the man behind Apple Computers. The fact that the film doesn’t try to show him as an entirely sympathetic character is refreshing and although it ends before Jobs’ biggest successes – the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad – the film still feels complete in telling Jobs’ story.
Review by Brogen Hayes

Steve Jobs
Review by Brogen Hayes
  • filmbuff2011

    The late Steve Jobs was something of an enigma. His legacy was that he revolutionised and democratised the computer, by bringing it away from techheads and into the living rooms of ordinary people. The little-seen 2013 film Jobs, which bypassed cinemas here and went direct-to-DVD, wasn’t that bad, but it was ultimately unsuccessful at getting at the man behind those glasses. Danny Boyle’s new film Steve Jobs tries a different angle, with mixed results. Following the standard three-act structure of a film, we get three backstage perspectives of Jobs over three product launches. In 1984, Jobs (Michael Fassbender) is preparing to move past the successful but now outdated Apple II by launching the Macintosh desktop computer. Aided by his tireless confidante and handler Joanna (Kate Winslet), Jobs wants to move forward and see the future. Having started Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) in a garage, Jobs is reluctant to acknowledge the previous efforts of Wozniak and the Apple II team. He’s also trying to deal, or rather not deal, with the fact that he has a young daughter who he even disowns to her own face. Her desperate mother Chrisann (Katherine Waterston) is less than impressed. Fast forward to 1988 and Jobs, fired from Apple by CEO and nemesis John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), is launching his NeXT computer, which comes in a perfect cube form. Wozniak warns him that it will fail. Fast forward again to 1998 and Jobs has re-joined Apple with the launch of the iMac, built partially from the architecture of the failed NeXT project. Further backstage drama ensues, as Wozniak and a surprise visitor pile pressure on a pre-launch Jobs… Steve Jobs is a very ambitious film, which takes a surprisingly tight and confined view of a man with a very interesting background. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network) has said that he’s tired of the familiar, tried-and-tested, cradle-to-grave format and wanted to avoid doing a biopic. Instead, based on Walter Isaacson’s book, he’s created a snapshot of Steve Jobs at three crucial points in his life. It makes for great drama and there are certainly acting fireworks on display here. However, that’s all it really is. If you’re expecting something dazzling and cinematic from the usually energetic Boyle, then you’re for in a disappointment (though, he shoots on different film stocks to suit the era, which is a nice visual touch). Sorkin would be the first to admit that he’s a playwright who also works in film and TV and it shows here. This is a very meaty, talky film (a trademark of Sorkin’s) with lots of confrontational scenes. The acting is impeccable all round. Working from Sorkin’s dialogue-driven script, which had no stage directions, Fassbender, Winslet, Rogen and Daniels all rise to the challenge and deliver very strong performances. Expect some Oscar nominations here. But what of the man himself? Fassbender really gets to down to the nitty-gritty here, portraying Jobs as a ruthlessly driven man who would stop at nothing to power ahead into the future, leaving his employees, rivals and the Apple board behind if necessary. Jobs is the not particularly likeable – he’s perhaps his own worst enemy. But yet there’s something undeniably kinetic about the man that Fassbender brings through, while just about keeping him human. Steve Jobs (the film) is a bit like the man himself – engaging, captivating and a visionary… but also narrowly focused, obsessive and… difficult. The most telling line of the film comes from Wozniak towards the end – ‘It’s not binary. You can be decent and gifted at the same time’. A definitive film about Steve Jobs is still waiting to be made. ***

  • emerb

    Director Danny Boyle brings the late, great Steve Jobs back to life in a new credible and revealing movie, “Steve Jobs”. The film could be viewed as a sort of companion piece to “The Social Network” as both focus on technical geniuses and how their minds work although it has to be said that, while both movies are equally riveting, they are remarkably different. “Steve Jobs” is a deeply captivating portrait of the high cost of genius and it touches on the interaction between public performance and private behaviour. Why do so many driven and talented people have difficulty treating other human beings as if they mattered? In the course of his rise, we witness Steve Jobs betraying his friends, alienating his allies and mistreating his loved ones. The vibrant and smart direction together with the ingenious script written by Aaron Sorkan have succeeded in giving us a remarkable character study into the mind of a man who uses technology to bring millions of people together, but who can’t seem to figure out how to connect with the people who are actually around him. For me, this ambitious movie is one of the most entertaining and absorbing which I have seen this year.

    Sorkin and Boyle give the story an unconventional three act structure, each act playing out in real time Though there are a few glances into the past, most of the action unfolds in the anxious minutes leading up to a signature Jobs’ product launch. First there was the debut of the 1984 Macintosh. Then the attention-getting but wildly overpriced NeXT CUBE in 1988 after Jobs had been fired from Apple by John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), the former Pepsi exec he’d helped install as CEO. And finally, in 1998, after Apple had hired him back, he premieres the triumphant iMac. Each story details the rise of Jobs but also details the failures and struggles along the way. All the while, the cruel and egocentric Jobs is belittling and diminishing the work of all his employees who crave his approval yet never get it. Jobs even goes so far as to hurl astonishingly harsh and thoughtless barbs at Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterson) and the daughter he doesn’t want to acknowledge, Lisa (played by Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, and Perla Haney-Jardine). His near-constant companion is Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), a strong-minded marketing executive who is completely devoted to her boss.

    The acting, led by Michael Fassbender, is superb and is certainly set for awards attention. It matters not a bit that Fassbender looks nothing like Jobs because he gives a stellar performance, remarkable for its intensity. He is at once heroic but harsh, brilliant but intolerable, inspires loyalty but also resentment and yet he knows exactly what the public wants and is utterly confident that he will change the world. Fassbender gives us a glimpse into what drove that single-minded focus and the enigma beneath his multi-layered persona. In fact, much of the tension in the film stems from the all-around terrific performances. Kate Winslet is excellent as Jobs’ his dutiful confidante and right-hand-marketing-woman. She is the one person prepared to speak up to him, she berates him for letting his former lover live on welfare and for denying paternity of their five-year-old daughter. Seth Rogen as Steve “Woz” Wozniak, the Apple co-founder who can’t ignore Jobs’ refusal to credit his team with the success of the Apple II computer is superb and Michael Stuhlbarg shows us the pain in software developer Andy Hertzfeld, who suffers the wrath of Jobs for failing to make the Mac prototype say “hello.” Jeff Daniels also nails it as John Sculley, the Apple CEO who fired Jobs and sparked his cruel revenge.

    “Steve Jobs” is simultaneously Boyle’s greatest work as a director and Sorkin’s most satisfying script yet. The non-traditional structure of the film is creative and fresh. I thought the change in format as the film moves through the three product launches which defined Jobs’ career was clever, each one bears its own distinct use of camerawork. 16mm for 1984, a less grainy 35mm for 1989, and the third in glossy, crystalline high-definition, echoing the technical advances Jobs is making along the way. Boyle’s movie is sure to annihilate the box-office performance of 2013’s “Jobs”, is likely to prove a substantial earner for Universal and is a surefire awards contender.

    “Steve Jobs” is a fascinating movie, both intelligent and powerful and has been written, directed and acted to perfection. It delves deep into what made Jobs such a visionary but yet such a self-absorbed control freak and presents us with an excellent portrayal of a relentlessly determined and dysfunctionally complicated figure who brought the universe into our own pockets but in turn made the world a very detatched, less friendly and warm place. Our generation now sits behind screens, we are “friends” with hundreds we hardly know, and we toss out random tweets of anger if people don’t conform to our standards. We may not like or admire Jobs but most of us now live in the virtual world he created. He transformed the way we communicate and interact and in turn, changed the course of technological development. It’s hard to believe that, having been enthralled by his story over the course of this two hour film, we never even reached the ipod, not to mind the iphone! Go see it, you won’t be disappointed.

  • Randy

    An interesting take on the much-lauded Steve Jobs which was a struggle to get made. It’s impressive on a technical level, thanks to Boyle’s touch in finding excitement in the most mundane. On a technical level, the mix of 16mm,35mm and digital in 3 acts is impressive. Kate Winslet is excellent while Fassbender is pretty much one-note. Refreshingly, Jobs is not a likeable character and much of the script is well-crafted. However, there are instances which are quite cringe-worthy and obtuse as the film seems to emphasize its own belief at how brilliant it is.