Full transcript of the review:
Steve Jobs is not your usual bio-pic. Directed by Danny Boyle, using Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay and starring Michael Fassbender as Jobs, it focuses, in three acts, on three events in the life of the iconoclast. With all the movies vying for Oscar attention this time of year, will you want to say HELLO to Steve Jobs?
For those of you who love the work of director Danny Boyle (Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire, and 28 Days Later) and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, (who could give any Howard Hawks or Preston Sturgess rapid fire dialogue a run for their money) or brooding but diverse leading man Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs will be required viewing, and while in the theaters. For the rest, you need only know this cinematic pressure cooker is one of the best films of the year, and not only a fascinating study of one of the most important figures to bring us into the 21th century, but also a study in ensemble acting, and tightly written, nuanced dialogue. Someone is getting an Oscar.
Boyle and Sorkin create an indelible portrait that is less about genius but more about the complexities of living with the kind of genius that borders or becomes obsession. From a front row seat the audience witnesses Jobs creating world change, while causing a great deal of unhappiness to those around him and indeed those executing his demands towards that change.
One of the first scenes of the film is Jobs introducing the Macintosh to a frothy audience whose appetite has been whetted by a Superbowl commercial. He vacillates between being worried and livid that his top engineer Andy Hertzfeld (character actor Michael Stuhlbarg) can’t make the computer say Hello. He proceeds to alternately question, cajole, demand and threaten Andy to make it work before the presentation, meant to take place in some 30 seconds. It is here we first see just how exacting, merciless, and manipulative Jobs is, although throughout the film we also see his struggles, his weaknesses, and his fears, albeit through the veil of his own bravado. Fassbender commands his role as Jobs much like Jobs says he commands his employees: “A musician plays his instrument. A conductor plays the orchestra.” Fassbender conducts his own physique, and is as tightly controlled as Steve Jobs himself as he shows both the roaring and the wounded monster Jobs was known to be. But he is not alone. Every major role marks a high point for the actor portraying it: Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels, play real-life confidents to Jobs, bringing authentic humanity to those who called Jobs on his cruelties and personal fantasies, to better or worse interactions with the man. Seth Rogen embodies Steve Wozniak’s kindness and laser sharp intellect and Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld is noble and put-upon. Both had contentious, complicated relationships with Jobs.
The speed of the dialogue means about twice as much is said in the space of the 122 minute running time, and it’s dizzying. Yet, there are chosen moments of silence or stillness that prove all the more effective in comparison. There is no one better able to infuse such verbal speed with emotional resonance than writer Sorkin, and the actors bringing them to life don’t squander one word.
it struck me that a major part of the storyline, involving the famous 1984 commercial that started the ferver about the Mackintosh computer, was directed by Ridley Scott, with whom Danny Boyle is competing for box office dollars as Steve Jobs and Scott’s The Martian must compete at the box office. Let’s hope there’s ample room for both to thrive there. Both directors mark great artistic achievements with their new releases.
For a movie about a man making and SELLING computers, it is not only watchable, it’s repeatably watchable, and endlessly fascinating. It’ll have you at HELLO!, but don’t miss one word.