Remember David Mamet’s “Phil Spector” movie starring Al Pacino and Helen Mirren? Well, so does Aaron Sorkin and his script for “Steve Jobs” is the same sort of rat-a-tat-tat super lyrical and sharp dialogue hiding the fact the movie has as much to do with Jobs as Mamet had to do with Spector. And both of them have as much to do with Jesus as they do with their subjects. Maybe more.
Mamet: “Jesus was so big, why’d they kill him? Because he was still the son of God. Still is not news. Somebody is still the greatest beauty, actor, record producer, you can’t put that in the paper. What is news, then? News is that he likes little boys, that he’s a thief that he cheats on his wife. Or in the absence of any fault, that he’s just too goddamn big for his fucking britches. Which is why they killed Christ.”
Sorkin: “God sent his only son on a suicide mission but we still like him because he made trees.”
So there it is, Spector is about how being old news can kill ya and Jobs is about how if you can make a tree you can be a dick. Mamet is better because Mamet writes better dialogue, but “Steve Jobs” is pretty darn good. Both movies are really plays, “Steve Jobs”, directed by Danny Boyle with a light hand and starring Michael Fassbinder, an actor I never really warmed to in a career defining role as Steve Job. The main man behind the “Apple 2” and later the “IPhone” and revolutionized the world of packaging at the very least -wasn’t liked but like God made new products like trees.
The movie isn’t the Steve Jobs story, as Sorkin noted, “he could’ve been selling toasters”, it is a battle of wits between Jobs and everybody else, especially the guy who actually invented stuff, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen –who has reached that place where he can only ever be Seth Rogen) and Jobs daughter Lisa, at 6, 12 and 19 at three launches of new products, the “Apple II” first, then along with Apple CEO, John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) the “IMac” and finally the disastrous “NeXt”. Finally, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) his head of Marketing as a one woman conscious cum Greek chorus.
The movie plays out like it was made for HBO on a shoestring, a closed in language fueled Steve against the world and after acting like a shit his entire life, finally winning it all. It is a soft sell, in fact, they don’t mention the way he screwed Wozniak out of stock in his own company. The guy was a tough customer and a feel good ending, where he makes piece with the daughter he has abused for the previous two hours, ties it in a pretty ribbon.
It actually reminds me of that Broadway play “The Queen” from earlier this year. It was great fun but there was nothing really there, having Queen Elizabeth II meeting with Prime Ministers throughout her “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” never ending reign was fun but it didn’t tell us anything. “Steve Jobs” is fun, actually it is great fun, but it doesn’t tell us anything and it is a pack of lies. Sure, the Ashton Kushner movie two years ago was shit on a stick but at least it tried. Sorkin would like you to compare it to his own “The Social Network” but it is too shallow, too cute, too manufactured. As theatre, or film, as an exposition and illumination, in every way in which it was made it fails terrible. Jibs as Jesus as God as meanie with a heart of cold. Is that all ya got?
And I still loved it, didn’t look at my watch once and though in retrospect I was not impressed, at the time I sure was. Not unlike the IPhone 5.5.
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