Top 5 Movies of 2015: #5 – Steve Jobs

As with the end of each year, we reflect on what we loved throughout the last 365 days of 2015. Movies are no exception to those lists so we decided to do something a little different. Rather than your typical list, I wanted to give a bit more insight why each film is on this list. So without further ado, here is #5!

Steve Jobs banner

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is a name that I can honestly say the whole world would be familiar with. The man behind one of, if not the most, successful companies in the world, Apple. Steve Jobs has such a history around him, his accomplishments and his failures, so when he passed away it was no surprise that a film would be made to showcase his life. First was the critically panned Ashton Kutcher film, JOBS. A film that had a lead who looked like Jobs, but that’s where any and all interest stopped.

So what was failure at a Steve Jobs biopic, it would have been safe to assume that anything further would be simply a documentary. While I was right and we received the fantastic “Man in the Machine” documentary, we also would see the biopic Steve Jobs hit the big screen.

Director Danny Boyle and Screen Writer Aaron Sorkin
Director Danny Boyle & Writer Aaron Sorkin

Steve Jobs went through some development hell, written by Aaron Sorkin with director David Fincher and Christian Bale as Jobs himself, the movie quickly shot to the front of many film fanatics must-see list. As time went on, Bale would drop out and Michael Fassbender would take the role followed by the departure of Fincher. Danny Boyle would take over for Fincher and filming would be underway.

So now the film has released and, after watching it, I can say that I leave it with mixed emotions.

The writing is familiar for anyone that has watched other Sorkin projects. The writer has a knack for writing dialogue heavy sequences that tend to run longer than the average scene. The back and forth between characters, while drawn out, still feels natural and allows for the actors to really compliment each other in their craft. As the movie progresses, each scene allows the viewer to get further into the head of a man that was bigger than the world. And what’s crazier is that he knew it.

The only gripe is that the script is not authentic to the events. Yes, these launches happened, but the in-betweens feel like they are heavily influenced by Hollywood to add more gravity to the events and make them more interesting than what they may have actually been. The writing allows for the scenes to drift between present and past events fluidly to add depth to the situations we are presented. Each scene perfectly builds up the legend of man behind Apple Inc, and subsequently his fall from grace. Each word spoken is just another section of the emotional roller coaster that was Steve Jobs’ career.

Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle is best known for getting his actors to give it their all and he does just that. Like the lead character says in the film, “I play the orchestra” and Boyle does just that, he plays the cast just as much as they play themselves. The only downfall of his direction is that the film mostly feels like he is trying to imitate the style of the previously attached Fincher. It is no secret that the script was written for Fincher but Boyle does his best and ultimately succeeds in getting his cast to bring to life this world and vision Sorkin created.

While the script is fantastic and allows for everything to play out exactly how Sorkin wants it to, what are words without someone to bring them to life? This is where Michael Fassbender works his magic. Fassbender has quickly risen to the top of tinseltown with roles in films like Inglorious Basterds, Shame and the X-Men franchise, but with Steve Jobs the actor is now the man responsible for driving the majority of the film. One issue with Fassbender is that he does not resemble Jobs at all, but this is so small when compared to the actors’ portrayal.

Fassbender clearly did his research and has read the Walter Isaacson penned biography. Like the man himself, Fassbender demands the respect and attention of everyone in the room, including the audience. Throughout the film, I am waiting to see what he was going to say next and how the man who would build the Apple empire was going to both alienate and inspire those around him. He portrays both the brilliance and brazen attitude that Jobs was infamous for. You can see how his goals were the first priority and how everyone around him fell to the way bottom of that list of things to worry about.

Seth Rogen (Steve Wozniak), Kate Winslet (Joanna Hoffman) and Jeff Daniels (John Scully) knocked it out of the park in their supporting roles.

Rogen is a pleasant surprise throughout the film. Rogen brings to life the story of betrayed friend/partner Steve “Woz” Wozniak. From the early moments of him simply just asking for recognition to his team or how they butt heads early in the life of the company over what a computer should and shouldn’t be. While you may see a little bit of classic Rogen, he does a great job in his first serious role by attempting to distance himself from the characters for which he is known.

Winslet is absolutely amazing as Joanna Hoffman. She plays the right hand to Fassbender’s Jobs and does so in a way that makes you cheer every time she stands up to him. Every interaction between the two feels very natural and she clearly attempts to become the voice of reason by trying to constantly bring Steve down to earth. The duality between her investment in Apple and her loyalty to Jobs give the audience the best glimpse into the stressful world in which working directly with Steve Jobs would entail.

Lastly, Jeff Daniels is there as the man who both backed and brought down Steve. Always the business man, Daniels’ is the only one who somewhat sees the vision in Jobs’ head and feeds into his ego. During the second act of the film, you see Fassbender being ousted from the company that he helped create by Daniels’ character John Scully. The back and forth between Fassbender and Daniels is fantastic and probably the most exciting in the film. As their time on screen continues, the feeling I got was someone that is watching a bitter divorce play out. Just like some split couples, they even meet up years later to reminisce over that good old days.

The most heartbreaking moments of the film come from every scene that involves Jobs interacting with the daughter he never wanted. These scenes are hard to watch without thinking that there’s no way this man, who is about revolutionizing the world for the better, could possibly deny his own flesh and blood. Each actress that plays young Lisa does a great job in showing a child naive enough to not understand what is going on but wants nothing more than to be loved by the person she calls dad. The final moment between them is tough as Lisa has finally reached an age that she can now comprehend the things that happened in her life, and by doing so you cheer for her as she finally stands up to her “father.”

While the movie has flaws and clearly is overly sensationalized at times, the main story of “man who has everything, loses everything and somehow is able to regain his legacy by never changing his way of doing things” is fascinating. All the while you see a man finally realize his biggest flaw in the final moments, you finally see the human side of someone who was bigger than life itself throughout his career and even after his death. It’s clear the film has its eyes set on the Oscars and the cast alone are worthy of any awards they are nominated for.

Ultimately, the film is a great tale of the legacy of Steve Jobs, whether you’re an Apple fan or just intrigued by the legend of Jobs himself.

 

 

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