STEVE JOBS Review — The Launch of an Original Masterpiece

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Steve Jobs reviewIt doesn’t happen every year, but this time, it came early and it hit hard.

Five minutes into director Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, I was thinking, “This is the best film I’ve seen in a very long time. If it’s not the best film of the year, I don’t what is.” Yes, it’s that good.

For this film to have such a strong impact is quite the feat, considering neither the lead actor, Michael Fassbender, nor the director, Danny Boyle, were first choices. Both Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio passed, for various reasons, and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin was intent of having Tom Cruise utter the very clever and complicated lines he’d written. As for director, David Fincher dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Thank heavens Fassbender and Boyle were available instead.

While Fassbender doesn’t look much like Steve Jobs, you forget that immediately, as he morphs into the conflicted genius from scene one. There are few moments he’s not on screen, and that, along with Aaron Sorkin’s usual erudite but absorbing script, had to be a tremendous challenge for this versatile, talented and underrated actor. But it’s hard to imagine anyone doing it better (apologies to Ashton Kutcher).

And while Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) is usually known for his colorful, frenetic, eye-popping style, few of his signature methods were used. Ah, but he did make a truly original and creative choice: the film is clearly set in three acts, with flashbacks. Each act begins backstage, just before the release of three pivotal Jobs created products. Each act was shot in a different format: grainy 16mm film for the launch of the original Mac in 1984, vivid 35mm for the 1988 launch of the ill-fated NeXT Cube, and high-definition digital for 1998 launch of the iMac.

Only a handful of Jobs’ closest influencers are portrayed, and they’re symbolic of the rest. It’s the cleverest of ways to handle a bio-pic without adhering to the  tiresome cradle to grave trajectory. Jeff Daniels plays father figure and eventual usurper John Sculley, Kate Winslet is marketing expert and mother figure Joanna Hoffman, and Seth Rogan plays partner and co-founder Steven “Woz” Wosniak. All are superb, and you can expect to see an Oscar nomination or two, especially for Winslet in the supporting role.

But it’s Jobs’ relationship with his daughter Lisa, played by three different actresses, that is most compelling and ties the film together. This is a movie unlike any you’ve ever seen before, and in this day and age when it’s all about the sequel and the remake, and originality too often takes a backseat, Steve Jobs deserves all the kudos I can give it and more.

Rated R

2 Hours 2 Minutes

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STEVE JOBS Review — The Launch of an Original Masterpiece

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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