Sunday, November 15, 2015

Steve Jobs (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Steve Jobs

Actor Michael Fassbender gives a tour de force performance in "Steve Jobs" a biopic about the maestro of Apple, Inc., directed by Danny Boyle.

The film is told in three thirty-minute segments mostly concerning the inventor's personal life: the fraught relationships with co-founder and friend Wozniak (Seth Rogen), with his  interim CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), and with his daughter (played by  Perla Hanley-Jardine, Ripley Sobo and Mackenzie Moss).

Jobs is near pathological in his obsession to make Apple a success. He is more than a bit like Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho", a near sociopath. Nothing gets in his way.

Jobs is pale and tight, half man and snake in his black turtleneck. He perpetually stalks his invisible prey, moving from hallway to hallway, room to room with eyes like magnets of ego. Jobs is more at ease touching plastic consoles and surfaces than his friends or his daughter.

The dialogue, written by Aaron Sorkin is masterful in its machine gun rapidity, chock full of dismissive and cutting non sequiturs that highlight Jobs' sublime and utter coldness. Jobs enjoys exchanging techie wordplay with his marketing exec, Joanna Hoffman (a nearly invisible Kate Winslet) rather than snuggle with his part time girlfriend Chrisann (Katherine Waterston) or his daughter Lisa. There is no room for human to human touch  The only biped that Jobs seems to share a bond with (albeit briefly) is Wozniak, his friend and the co-creator of the first and second Apple computers.

Jobs comes to an impasse with John Sculley over the first Mac. Sculley says the Mac is a dud. Jobs demands to highlight the Minion-shaped machine, electing himself a Da Vinci of a digital age. He evicerates his staff and is forced out. It doesn't help that Jobs hired young men who were actual neo-nazi skinheads as extras in his exquisite 1984 Super Bowl commercial.

A decade later, Jobs is back. He is now a Warholian wizard of a smaller computer era. Pop is everything. Like Andy Warhol, he moves Apple into a huge factory-warehouse with wall-size photographs of Alan Turing, John Lennon and Bob Dylan under the glib but incorrectly worded slogan of "Think Different".  The Macs are now in bright neon colors, manufactured again and again and again, into infinity.

He tries to make amends to Lisa but instead focuses in on her Sony Walkman: "A brick". Jobs quips, "Are we still in the Dark Ages?" Jobs can't give her love so he will give her a product, a sexy rectangle of a thousand songs that can fit in her pocket.  However ingenious, such a thing makes a cold keepsake.

A highlight of the film is Seth Rogen, excellent as Jobs' sincere friend who adamantly strives to make this dictator designer see that he can, in fact, be a better human being and make the right choice. Rogen's portrayal, showing only the slightest of comic touches flirts with the poignant and is certainly his best and most earthy role to date.
There is a slight pixel of redemption when Jobs moves on the stage, glancing at his daughter behind the curtain. For a millisecond their eyes meet and he makes tentative steps to her, only to lose form in a blur of light perhaps in recognition of Jobs' death when he apparently exclaimed, "Oh wow!"

Though "Steve Jobs" the film, only shows the dark side of this man, it does a near virtuosic job in scoring some of the terror behind the technology, while thankfully never veering into pulp or artifice.

Alas, the one lasting friend Jobs maintained was the one with himself and he put all of his spirit in his touchable devices. It is no ruse that he wanted Macs to have disk drives that appear to smile. Each computer was an actual mirror of Jobs himself.

This deliberate intention is seen again in the iphones of today. Those dark polished screens passively reflect the faces of the user and carry out our highly individual, often solipsistic and selfish demands.

Sent from my iPhone

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