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Steve Jobs: A Study in Being Human

Posted by cirvine on February 15, 2016

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It’s no secret that Apple is the megacompany of a generation. Put a lowercase “i” in front of a word and suddenly we’re talking about an Apple product. This recognition is mainly attributed to one man—Steve Jobs, the CEO and co-founder of Apple and the subject of Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar-buzzing screenplay.

The story of Steve Jobs unravels in three acts that centre around three product launches—the original Apple Macintosh in 1984, the cuboid NeXT Computer in 1988, and the stylish iMac in 1998. Interestingly, like the products being presented, the look of the movie itself evolves as time goes on, from a grainy 16mm film, to a richer 35mm, to the sharp contrast of digital. Of course Jobs’ style changes too, from a white collared shirt (with a must-have pocket to fit a floppy disk) to the black turtleneck we associate him with best today.

Interestingly the movie pivots around these three enormous exhibitions yet focuses entirely on what happens before, after and behind the scenes of them—we never get to see an actual presentation.  It turns out what happens before, after and behind is a lot of arguing. And I mean A LOT. Before watching this film brace yourself for two hours of bickering, yelling and general disagreement. It’s definitely not a relaxing movie. We watch as Jobs desperately tries to maintain control of every detail, including making sure the Macintosh says “Hello” at the beginning of the show, or demanding that the EXIT lights are shut off (despite it being completely against the law) in order for there to be a pure blackout in the auditorium.

Hoffman_Jobs.jpgJoanne Hoffman (Kate Winslet) and Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender). source:http://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2015/10/jobs/lead_960.jpg?1445262604

Michael Fassbender does an impeccable job at making us love, hate, and wonder at the larger-than-life character. He shows how Jobs so fervently denies any connection with humanity within himself and without, desperately trying to become the closed-source computer he always dreamed of. His rejection of his daughter in the beginning alongside the fact that he himself was given up as a child, make you at once loathe him and understand him. Kate Winslet shines too as Jobs’ marketing chief, Joanna Hoffman. She seems to be one of the only people in Jobs’ life who can stand up to him (she actually won awards for it at Apple) and offers up a much-needed sanity and relief to the manic nature of Jobs.

Seth Rogan is great in this flick too, taking a break from comedy to become Steve Wozniak, the man forced into the background by his once-partner and friend, Jobs. Like Mark Zuckerberg’s  compatriot Eduardo Saverin, all he seeks is some acknowledgement in the product’s development, but to no avail. Wozniak is also the character who I think has one of the greatest lines ever: “It's not binary. You can be decent and gifted at the same time,” which is something that has always personally irked me about many genius-characters (I’m looking at you Turing!).

OriginalMacTeam.jpgThe original Macintosh developer team. source: http://www.makers.com/blog/woman-who-stood-steve-jobs

Like any bio-pic, this movie has received its share of criticisms about how it portrays Jobs, and like any movie, it should be taken more as a painting than as a photograph. I personally think it has portrayed his complex character well in only two hours. In the end it shows him as a human being, with all the complicated good and bad that goes along with that.  But you can make up your iMind for yourself.

Catch Steve Jobs on Execulink’s VOD channel (ch.100) from Feb 16th to July 27th,2016.