STEVE JOBS

by Alan Yudman

I write this on my MacBook Pro, while listening to music on my iPhone that I purchased through iTunes and occasionally checking the time on my Apple Watch. So, I am either a sycophant or an acolyte. Take your pick, I’ll admit to either when it comes to Apple and STEVE JOBS. Those devices are just a part of the public legacy of the Apple Computers co-founder. The eponymous movie is less concerned with Jobs’ technological legacy and more concerned with the imprint he left on other people’s lives. STEVE JOBS is not your normal bio-pic. Rather than try to tell the man’s whole story over the course of his entire life, it is structured in the classic three act format. Each act centered around a product launch: The Macintosh, The NEXT Computer and the iMac. And a little more of Jobs personality is revealed at each key moment. Steve Jobs is presented to us as a highly flawed man. He has a vision that at times only he can see. He is petty, spiteful and has no time or inclination to worry about what people think of him. He treats employees with varying degrees of contempt. I’d call it disdain, but that implies he gives any of them a second thought. They are all just cogs in the machine he envisions will change the world. He has no time for anyone who might distract him from his goals, that includes his own daughter Lisa and her mother Crisann Brennan. He apparently loves Steve Wozniak, though again that love is tempered with an air of superiority, kind of like you love your pet. The structure is an interesting choice because it affords us the opportunity to see Jobs interact with key players who help shape his character, yet it doesn’t get bogged down in too much back story. There are flashbacks to certain key moments in his company’s history, but those are just filling in blanks. Aaron Sorkin’s script is adapted from Walter Isaacson’s biography which I read and loved. Like the movie, it’s not about worshiping at the alter of JOBS. While the movie is not close to the book in detail, it does nail the themes. Jobs is tormented by his adoption as a child, as a result he doesn’t really get close to anyone. He operates in a “reality distortion field”, meaning he see things as he wants them not as they are or should be. And he had a single minded vision that he could change the world. Sorkin’s script is excellent. it has his trademark banter and pace, but not much of his trademark preachiness. The performances of Michael Fassbender as Jobs, Kate Winslet as his confident Joanna Hoffman, Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, Michael Stuhlbarg as engineering wizard Andy Herzfeld and Jeff Daniels as John Sculley, the man who fired Jobs from his own company, are all outstanding. I wasn’t expecting to be moved as much as I was. People talking about computers, how could that be captivating. But STEVE JOBS isn’t about computers. It is about vision, about how all genius is flawed and how in the end Steve Jobs was right.

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