Watching the STEVE JOBS biopic directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin was a nostalgic experience, bringing me back in time to 1992 when I purchased my first Apple Computer which regretfully turned out to be a “rotten apple with so many problems that Apple’s headquarters sent a technician to my home in NJ to change the “motherboard.” This was the “dark phase” of the company when it was on the downswing - the percentage of Apple users were declining and IBM’s P.C.’s were on the rise. Because my “mentor” was a rabid supporter - never wavering in his belief in Steve Jobs and Apple products, I too followed his lead despite the fact that Jobs was not with the company having been “fired” in 1985. The film STEVE JOBS gives us a glimpse into the man who today is considered a visionary having changed the way we communicate and navigate the world.
I once wrote a Letter to the NY Times extolling the power of film “… to re-vise, re-invent and re-position history and historical figures within popular culture… Too often ideas, whether they be political or cultural, permeate into the general consciousness through the membrane of a director…” And this holds true for director Danny Boyle’s depiction of Steve Jobs. There is a frenetic pace to the film - and Boyle uses the moments before the presentation of new products to an audience of devotees as a vehicle “exposing” the complexity of Steve Jobs’ personal and professional history.
The dramatic focus of the movie STEVE JOBS hinges upon 3 major “computer launch” events - the original Macintosh in 1984 in competition with the Apple II - the commercial bedrock of the company; the unveiling of NeXT cube in 1988 - what it did is still a mystery; and the beautifully designed iMac in 1998 - the start of the “iEra”. The products were an extension of the man himself - a person who controlled every aspect of his brand - obsessively committed and singleminded - never one to compromise - as witnessed by his battles with childhood friend and co-founder Steve Wozniak - Seth Rogan doing a great job as this decent, burly “nuts and bolts” man who actualizes Jobs’ idealistic concepts. Michael Fassbender is excellent as Jobs - cool, detached and charismatic encased in armor that is rarely penetrated except by the always-by-his side assistant Joanna Hoffman (a staid and respectful Kate Winslet with a weird undertone of an accent) and his daughter Lisa, (whose paternity he once renounced,) - a pivotal character functioning as a catalyst and humanizing foil to the self-absorbed and fervid Jobs.
There is a claustrophobic feel to the film - an undercurrent of acute tension created by Job’s contentious and truculent interactions with his colleagues and family; the need to micro-manage every one of life’s moments leaving no room for respite - we the audience suffer from the lack of air. I also left the theater wondering WHAT exactly did Jobs do as co-founder of Apple Inc.outside of being a genius marketing promoter?
I recommend reading Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of Steve Jobs, particularly after seeing a movie which gives you a narrow, surface view of an impassioned man who deserves to be seen more fully to understand his historical importance as that rare individual whose accomplishments touched people all over the globe. Regrettably STEVE JOBS gives very little inkling of the man who anticipated much of the 21st century’s technological innovations.