Three Powerhouses Make “Steve Jobs” An Action Packed Talking Drama

By Scott Kurland
Film: Steve Jobs
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Katherine Waterson
Rated R
Director: Danny Boyle

Since 1999 Hollywood has made seven films about Steve Jobs. There's been three documentaries made including, “Steve Jobs: One Last Thing”, “Billion Dollar Hippy”, and this year’s “Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine”. One film parody “iSteve” starring Justin Long as Jobs, that was made for Finally, there have been three drama based films about Jobs. The first being TNT’s “Pirates of Silicon Valley” starring Noah Wyle as Jobs. In 2013 Aaron Sorkin tried to make a biopic about Jobs for Universal Pictures. However Open Road beat him to it with a film called “Jobs” starring Ashton Kutcher as the Apple genius. This week’s film is Sorkin’s script brought to life by Oscar winning director Danny Boyle. The film is “Steve Jobs”, let’s see if it’s any good shall we?

“Steve Jobs” takes place in three time periods 1984, 1988, and 1998. Each time period focuses on Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) about to release a different computer. In 1984 the computer is the Macintosh 128k, and the famous 1984 Apple ad  for said computer just launched during the Super Bowl. Jobs is being guided by his own personal confidant Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), after a technical glitch occurs.  On what should be his best day Jobs is faced with problem after problem. First his ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterhouse) wants better child support payments. This is followed by Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) asking Jobs to acknowledge the creators of the Apple II. Apple CEO John Sculley tries to put Job’s mind at ease. Then in 1988 the computer is the NeXT, and the three same people come to Jobs again revealing past turmoil. In 1998 Jobs is back at Apple and he’s moments away from unveiling the iMac, but one family squabble could ruin his entire day.

This film is directed by Danny Boyle, but the main focus critics and audience have been tuning into is Sorkin. Sorkin might be the weakest part of this film, don’t get me wrong I love Sorkin. I’ve religiously watched all of his tv shows including “The Newsroom”. BUT, this script feels less like a biopic and more like an episode of “The Newsroom”.  The dialog is that Sorkin fast paced factoid speak we’ve seen time and time again. It’s not terrible, but Sorkin’s Steve Jobs is very similar to Sorkin’s Mark Zuckerberg. They’re both aloof men. They teeter on  that fine line of being caring individuals and career driven robots. This doesn’t make “Steve Jobs” a bad film, I actually really liked the movie, however I wanted less of the Sorkinisms and more Sorkin controversy.

What makes Sorkin’s script work is Danny Boyle’s vision. Boyle has crafted what should be an action film all within the guise of a corporate drama. I like how we never leave the auditorium, except in flash backs. I love that Boyle shot each segment with the film stock of that time period. 1984 Boyle shoots the entire scene in 16mm film, 1988 he switched to 35mm, and in 1998 he switched to digital video. If you aren’t an avid cinephile or movie junkie you won’t notice. However, I am a huge film snob and I loved it. When filmmakers go that extra mile it truly makes a film shine. Boyle continues to go miles ahead of the game, and everything he touches is gold. “Steve Jobs” is his most ambitious film yet, because he made what should be a play feel like an action packed movie.

“Steve Jobs” is truly an assemble piece. Without the four lead performances and supporting roles from Stuhlbarg and Waterson “Steve Jobs” would have failed. Fassbender continues to prove why he’s one of our best actors working today. He might be one of our greatest actors of all time. He takes a cold and distant Jobs, finds his humanity to make him less Sorkin Steve Jobs and more like the real man he’s portraying. He also has help from Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman. Winslet loses herself in this character and proves why Hoffman was Jobs’ greatest ally and also his biggest foil. Her chemistry with Fassbender radiates off the screen. For me these two brought back that old Tracey and  Hepburn banter that made golden age cinema great. 

Fassbender has equally awe inspiring chemistry with Rogen as Wozniak and Daniels as Sculley. Rogen is surprising as Wozniak. We see a side to him we never thought possible, and I must say Seth Rogen has range. He holds his own with Fassbender really well, considering what an accomplished dramatic actor Fassbender is. Rogen reminded me a lot of Albert Brooks from “Broadcast News”, and the funny thing is Brooks’ performance in that film was so great he was nominated for an Oscar. I hope the same can be said about Rogen. Daniels on the other hand is no stranger to Drama. He’s also no stranger to fast paced Sorkin dialog considering he starred on Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” for three years. Daniels is that extra kick that makes the film function as a whole film. He’s Jobs’ self image personified, and Jobs doesn’t like what he sees. Daniels’ subtlety and father like wisdom help make “Steve Jobs” an actors showcase.

I liked “Steve Jobs” a lot. Yes, it started to head into that smart Aaron Sorkin territory that we’ve seen a million times before. It also is full of incredible acting and shows what the right actors can do to form a  memorable character. This isn’t a perfect film, but all the bells and whistles make it a good film. This will be a strong contender for the Academy Awards, and if you can see “Steve Jobs”. It’s the biopic we deserve about the great man behind Apple computers.

scott kurlandComment