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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Steve Jobs 2015 * * * 1/2 Stars

Steve JobsDirector: Danny Boyle
Year: 2015
Rated R
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels

If not for Danny Boyle's grainy, pronounced direction, the routine for Steve Jobs (my latest review) would grow rather tiresome. For the most part, this is a real ball breaker of a movie, a character study that aches and moans. Every scene is a frigid confrontation, every dramatis personae is a painstaking resolve, and every bit of dialogue written by Aaron Sorkin, strands of hurried validity (remember the jibber jabber in 2010's The Social Network?).

Anyway, if you decide to take in a viewing of "Jobs", you'll be doing what other patrons (and actual extras for the film) will be doing, looking from the outside in. This closed-off production masked as cinematic agoraphobia, has performances in it that I would categorized as master class. You don't see the wheels turning in any trouper's head. Heck, you don't see anyone really acting at all (this is a compliment).

Now Steve Jobs the movie, is about the non-fictional Steve Jobs, an American businessman and co-founder of Apple Inc. He died before he reached the age of 60, fathering a daughter he claimed wasn't his, creating a computer that could talk, and achieving a net worth of millions upon millions of dollars. The vehicle doesn't delve into his later years when his health declined (due to pancreatic cancer). And it doesn't give us a highlight reel of him inventing the iPod, iPhone, or iTunes. No this is a two-hour running time of Steve's life, spliced into three days within three different years (early 80's launch of the Apple Macintosh, 1988's launch of NeXT Computer, and 1998's premier of the iMac). Here, San Francisco's adopted son is portrayed as sullen and forthright, a miserable human being. He's the smartest a-hole in the room and he freaking knows it.

In terms of casting, Michael Fassbender shines in the lead role, Kate Winslet is almost unrecognizable playing Steve's marketing director, Seth Rogen comes into his own as Steve's rival/erstwhile collaborator, and Jeff Daniels adds on to his dramatic chops (just like in The Martian) channeling Apple Inc.'s former CEO (John Sculley). In the realm of structure, there are some swift flashbacks towards the end (Jobs and his daughter revisit their lost moments), some longer flashbacks sprinkled throughout (everything happening before 1984), a complex screenplay that sort of recycles itself, and sequences where actors talk as if it's merely for sport. My favorite line is when Jobs quips, "musicians play their instruments, I play the orchestra". Slammer!

All in all, this is Boyle's twelfth flick to date. It pays homage to Arthur C. Clarke, gives a good-natured ribbing to Mr. Bill Gates, and has an unconcerned sense of time and place. In my opinion, it was probably released too early this year (October 9th to be exact). Here's hoping the Academy voters don't ignore "Jobs", actor Michael Fassbender, and actress Kate Winslet come January (their work deserves surefire award nominations). Bottom line: Steve Jobs is lean, mean Oscar bait yet it doesn't promote it, it earns it. Dialogue-driven, frustrating, exhausting, and psychologically formidable, you can already put it on my list of 2015's best films. Rating: 3 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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