By Kyle G. King. With two movies centered on Steve Jobs currently making theater rounds, and yet another Hollywood feature only two years prior (back when Ashton Kutcher was still a thing), portrayals of the infamous Apple co-founder are updated about as often as Apple’s own operating system (Steve Jobs : El Capitan currently in pre-production).
But with a shifting television climate that’s leaning towards edgier compu-content — Halt and Catch Fire (the best show not enough people are talking about) is preparing for its third season, and this season’s breakout star Mr. Robot is getting rave reviews from nearly everyone — screenwriting big cheese Aaron Sorkin had a vision beyond just another simple Steve Jobs biopic. And so it was that Michael Fassbender donned Jobs’ signature shitty attitude (and black turtleneck) to join Sorkin and Danny Boyle in their latest film, Steve Jobs.
As computers become zombies (not a Fall Out Boy album yet) — in both trendiness and in their ability to expose human nature through non-human plot devices — Hollywood drums up new scripts and programming to hold viewer’s limited attention spans. HBO’s Silicon Valley does pretty great things with comedy in the tech-savvy arena but no subject ever seemed less willing to laugh at the computer industry than juggernaut Steven Paul Jobs. Not to say Sorkin’s script isn’t void of any humor — his Jobs just mostly likes laughing in the Snidely Whiplash, I’ve-got-the-upper-hand-now kind of way (like when Wario hits with you a red shell). Steve Jobs (more so than any of the other films about him) presents just how far being a total dick to everyone around you can get you in American business — which, by the way, is pretty fucking far.
Steve Jobs has three distinct chapters that depict the madness behind three of Jobs’ legendary product launches: the original Macintosh in 1984, the non-apple NeXT computer in 1988, and the revolutionary iMac in 1998, all of which are escorted by flash-backs, flash-forwards, and flash-all-arounds to events that affected his life and career. As Jobs races around in a collage of fast-paced Sorkin walk-and-talks, Jobs berates nearly everyone he encounters (including a toddler that may very well be his child). Sorkin coats his technical computer jargon with decadent dark chocolate, enough to entertain without alienating. The cutting dialogue alone is worth your money; there’s an ingenious simplicity in its humor, drama, romance, and conflict. Steve Jobs proves that Oscar season is finally upon us, and boy am I grateful.
Finely paired with Sorkin is Danny Boyle’s caffeinated direction that can somehow still focus on moments of real drama. In the visionary three-way tug of war between writer, director, and actor, Boyle certainly loses most, but it’s a dignified and respectful surrender that boosts both the writer’s and actor’s performances. Greatly aided by the maybe-not-so-platonic business relationship of Kate Winslet’s Joanna Hoffman are the phantom father figure and business mentor of Jeff Daniel’s John Sculley and the sacrificial friendship lamb of Seth Rogen’s Steve Wozniak (with whom Jobs started Apple computers in a garage back in 1976). Additionally Michael Stuhlbarg as handy programmer ‘Other Andy’ Hertzfeld and Katherine Waterston as Jobs’ baby momma Chrisann Brennan, do well to take issue with whatever Jobs is throwing at their respective characters.
Michael Fassbender dances beautifully between manipulation and emotion to ensure you’re never able to fully admire, abhor, or completely trust Steve Jobs the man. Though it’s hard to imagine Steve Jobs with posture and muscle as beautiful as the 38 year-old actor, Steve Jobs is able to provide a peek into not what made the man great, but what his dedication to innovation cost him.