Steve Jobs

By Chris Tinsdale / Posted on January 9, 2016

Steve Jobs (2015)

Danny Boyle’s thrilling film, which takes place behind the scenes at three key product launches during the late Jobs’ career, begins with the Apple co-founder freaking out minutes before introducing the Macintosh in 1984 because his team couldn’t get it to say “hello.” It was nitpicky and obsessive—qualities he was famous for—but he was also onto something, as we now know: this idea of technology serving as a constant and comforting companion.

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Boyle, writer Aaron Sorkin and star Michael Fassbender explore the character of Steve Jobs with a great creative mind.

Fassbender himself, who doesn’t really resemble Jobs in any physical way but rather embodies his drive, his restlessness. Fassbender has never shied away from playing damaged or difficult characters—“Shame,” “12 Years a Slave,” even the “X-Men” prequels as a young Magneto—but here, he has the added challenge of playing a revered, real-life figure over the span of 14 years, from long hair and bow tie to glasses and dad jeans. He never flinches from the arrogant and repulsive elements of this man’s behavior, but there’s an intensity to his presence and a directness in his eyes that make him not just compelling but commanding. He doesn’t care whether you like him, and that’s exciting.

Through it all is Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’ calm yet forceful right-hand woman and a much-needed voice of reason. Winslet gets a couple of great speeches, which she delivers with convincing power, totally unsurprisingly. Her exchanges with Fassbender are the film’s high points and almost a high-wire act; it’s a tricky thing making such dense dialogue sound effortless, but both actors pull it off.

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This a super-Sorkiny Aaron Sorkin script—full of the kind of well-timed zingers and clever turns of phrase that never occur to us in real life. Rogen gets the best line of all toward the end, one he levels at Jobs in a crowded auditorium before the 1998 iMac launch: “You can be decent and gifted at the same time. It’s not binary.” With self-conscious beauty and piercing insight, it’s a notion that defines the entire film.

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It’s also easy to compare Sorkin’s portrayal of Jobs in “Steve Jobs” to his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” which earned him the adapted-screenplay Oscar in 2011. Both men are visionary geniuses who revolutionized the way people connect with each other, even though they are more than a little socially challenged when it comes to the people in their own lives. The irony may be too rich, but it’s delicious—even though the men in question can be so vicious that their actions leave a bad taste in your mouth.