Wonderboys Sorkin & Boyle, Never More Clever Than in “Steve Jobs”

By John Townsend October 21, 2015

Categories: Arts & Culture, Featured - Home Page, Our Scene

Michael Fassbender portrays the pioneering founder of Apple in Steve Jobs. Photo courtesy Universal Pictures.

Michael Fassbender portrays the pioneering founder of Apple in Steve Jobs.
Photo courtesy Universal Pictures.

The Steve Jobs myth sometimes seems like it’s in competition with major religious figures and, accordingly, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle inject lots of dazzling juice in their dazzling triumphalist film, Steve Jobs. Sorkin and Boyle, armed with beguiling cinematography and editing take us on a whirlwind tour through a chapter in Jobs’s later career and prepare to be impressed. Because it’s impressive!

This is not the in-depth look into Jobs’s controversial career like Alex Gibney’s recent probing documentary, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. The Sorkin-Boyle project is dutifully crafted for groupies as an attempt to make him look redeemable and give the impression he is Shakespearean in essence. A very clever effort indeed.

Michael Fassbender is in top form in the title role. Of course, compared to his more penetrating performances in Hunger, Fish Tank, Shame, A Dangerous Method, and 12 Years a Slave, this is a well-deserved fluffy role well done. If you don’t know Jobs’s history you’d probably find the characterization likable. Not to mention, Fassbender is very easy on the eyes and some of his scenes are simply beguiling. Though he doesn’t have the essential fluidity that the actual Jobs manifested, he catches us by surprise at times such as the quirky way he washes his foot in a toilet. The strongest aspect of Fassbender’s performance is that he does show a conscience when he finally figures out that it was wrong to treat his daughter as subhuman.

Some (though far from all) of the figures Jobs seriously cheated and abused in his checkered life are directed by Boyle to come off as whiny pity-party animals with little back story granted them. Sore losers. And to be fair, this is successful in its own strangely manipulative way. You can’t take your eyes off the screen. Katherine Waterston and Seth Rogen, both fine actors, are disallowed by Sorkin to characterize the reasons why they are filled with the rage and derision their characters rightly feel. In not hewing to determining events that happened before and after the action of the film transpires, we get, like I say, a chapter of a man’s life where Sorkin and Boyle are obviously thrilled to shine their glorifying light. Steve Jobs is one of the most appealing political ads ever put on film. To get the other side of the argument be sure you check out Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (also reviewed in Lavender).

Steve Jobs
Uptown Theatre, 2906 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis

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