Saturday, October 24, 2015

Steve Jobs (2015 film)

Based on the biography by Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs is the story about the man who co-founded Apple Computers as the film explores three different periods of his life. Directed by Danny Boyle and screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, the film is an unconventional story of Jobs’ life set in three different presentations of his three creations with behind-the-scenes moments where he deals with his own personal life as he’s played by Michael Fassbender. Also starring Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Katherine Waterston, Michael Stuhlbarg, Sarah Snook, and Jeff Daniels. Steve Jobs is an astonishing film from Danny Boyle.

Told in the span of 14 years from 1984 to 1998, the plays into the life of Apple Computers co-founder Steve Jobs as he is to launch three landmark products to the world in three different stage presentations. The film plays into Jobs on a day where he is to present a different product in a different year as he contends with colleagues, last-minute changes, glitches, and his own personal life as it relates to his illegitimate daughter Lisa Brennan. It’s a film told in three different periods in Jobs’ life and career as screenwriter Aaron Sorkin creates a unique structure that plays into Jobs’ life with some flashbacks of events that preceded the launches such as Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) creating the Apple II computer and Jobs hiring John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) to be the CEO of Apple Computers.

The first act revolves around the launching of the Apple MacIntosh where Jobs and his right-hand woman Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) fret over the computer in saying something to a packed house at an auditorium. The second act revolves around the NeXT personal computer four years after Jobs was fired from Apple in which he not only tries to deal with launching a computer that isn’t working on all cylinders but also his issues with Wozniak and Sculley. The third act is about the launch of the iMac just two years after Jobs has returned to Apple where he not only deals with other issues relating to his own ego but also his own personal demons. While Sorkin definitely shows not just how complicated Jobs is as a person where he was in denial over being the father of young girl but also in someone who likes to take all of the credit. It adds to the often contentious relationship with not just those who are close to him but also those who helped him in his ascent.

While Wozniak, Sculley, and Andy Hertzfield (Michael Stuhlbarg) each had their own issues with Jobs, they respected him though it is clear that they often feel slighted by him as Hertzfield is often pressured to meet deadlines and fix whatever technical issues a certain product has. Wozniak is just a guy that everyone likes as he was the brainchild of the Apple II computer which was Apple’s most successful product at that time as he just wants credit. Sculley meanwhile is the man that wanted to help Jobs and be cautious as there’s a key moment in the second act where the two talked about Jobs’ firing from Apple in 1985 where Sculley is called the scapegoat by everyone. Then there’s Joanna Hoffman as she is the film’s conscious as someone who knows Jobs left and right as well as the people in his life including Jobs’ former girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston) and their daughter Lisa. Adding to Sorkin’s approach to the narrative is his dialogue as it features lot of monologue and stylish dialogue which definitely says a lot to the characters in the film and their personalities.

Danny Boyle’s direction is very stylish not just in the intimacy he creates in these three different presentations in the life of Jobs but also in how they’re presented. The first act which revolves around the Apple MacIntosh presentation as it is shown in a grainy film stock to play into the look of the early 1980s as Boyle would use a lot of close-ups and handheld cameras to maintain that intimacy. Even in some of the wide shots of the many stage settings of each presentation has something to say where it is all set in different venues that play into the evolution of Jobs as a man and artist. Each segment would feature a montage of the events that occurred in between the different acts where the presentations in the second and third act would provide a much more polished film stock that doesn’t just play more in Jobs’ evolution but also him trying to prove himself even more.

Boyle’s direction would also use some unique tracking shots to play into many of the events that goes on behind-the-scenes Jobs and his crew are trying to get a presentation ready. Some of it is frenetic which plays into the demands that Jobs wants where the camera is often following him, Hoffman, and whoever but it also slows down for scenes set in the dressing rooms. Notably as it play into some of the private moments that occur between Jobs, Hoffman, Brennan, and Lisa while Boyle would also create some flashback scenes which play into Jobs on the rise and the fall he would suffer once he is fired from Apple. By the time the film reaches its third act with the upcoming launch of the iMac, the look is much brighter but the tension is still there as it plays into some of the dramatic elements of the film as well as how far Jobs has become where he is finally about to achieve some success. Overall, Boyle creates a compelling yet stylish film about one of the greatest figures in the world of computers.

Cinematographer Alwin H. Kuchler does amazing work with the film‘s cinematography as it each act and presentation has a different and distinctive look from the colorful yet grainy look of the first act, the more polished yet colorful look of the second act, and a much brighter and evocative look for the film‘s third act. Editor Elliot Graham does excellent work with the editing as it features some jump-cuts and other stylistic cuts including inserted montages as it help plays into Jobs‘ development as a character and the products he would create. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas, with set decorator Gene Serdena and supervising art director Luke Freeborn, does brilliant work with the set design for each of the presentation of the auditoriums where Jobs would present his new creations as it helps establish a mood for each sequence as well as the locations of these auditoriums.

Costume designer Suttriat Anne Larlab does nice work with the costumes as it is mostly casual though it does evolve over time as it includes some of the hippie-style clothes Chrisann wears. Makeup designer Ivana Primorac does fantastic work with the look of Jobs as well as Hoffman throughout the years as well as the other supporting characters. Visual effects supervisor Adam Gascoyne does terrific work with some of the visual effects as it‘s mostly minimal for some of the big presentations. Sound designer Glenn Freemantle does superb with the sound to play into frenzy of the crowd awaiting for the product unveilings as well as some key scenes in the conversations and backstage areas. The film’s music by Daniel Pemberton is wonderful for its orchestral-based score as it features an array of different themes for each act and presentation where some of it is operatic and some of it is low-key while the music soundtrack largely features music from Bob Dylan, the Macabees, and the Libertines.

The casting by Francine Maisler is incredible as it features a few notable small roles from John Ortiz as the journalist Joel Pforzheimer, Adam Shapiro as the software engineer Avie Tevanian for the film’s third act, and Sarah Snook as one of Jobs’ key collaborators in Andrea “Andy” Cunningham. In the dual of roles as the younger versions Lisa Brennan-Jobs, Makenzie Moss and Ripley Sobo both bring excellent performances in their respective roles as the five and nine-year old versions of Lisa where they provide the innocence of a young girl who wants to get to know her father. As the 19-year old Lisa, Perla Haney-Jardine is fantastic as the young woman who reluctantly wants to talk to her father as she deals with his attempts for a reconciliation. Michael Stuhlbarg is superb as the programmer/engineer Andy Hertzfield who was part of the Apple II team as he tries to help Jobs with some last minute things for the MacIntosh presentation as well as comment on some of the things in Jobs’ own life including Lisa.

Katherine Waterston is brilliant as Chrisann Brennan as Jobs’ former girlfriend who reluctantly shows up to the first two presentations asking for money as well as acknowledging that he’s Lisa’s father. Jeff Daniels is amazing as John Sculley as Apple’s CEO for the first two acts who deals with Jobs’ lavish presentation as well as being the scapegoat of getting Jobs out of Apple where he tries to get Jobs to admit his own wrongdoings that forced him out of Apple. Seth Rogen is remarkable as Steve Wozniak as the co-founder of Apple and the brainchild behind the Apple II as he tries to be Jobs’ friend but also want him to acknowledge the Apple II team for what they’ve done for the products Jobs would create for Apple in the coming years.

Kate Winslet is phenomenal as Joanna Hoffman as Jobs’ right-hand woman who is the film’s conscience as she tries to get everything ready while being the one person who tries to get Jobs to establish a relationship with Lisa as well as do what is right for him. Finally, there’s Michael Fassbender in a magnificent performance as the titular character as this man who sees himself as an artist in the world of personal computers as he tries to give the world the best product possible while dealing with his ego as well as his personal life as Fassbender isn’t afraid to make Jobs un-likeable as well as display some humanity into the character as it’s one of Fassbender’s finest performances to date.

Steve Jobs is a tremendous film from Danny Boyle that features an outstanding performance from Michael Fassbender in the titular role. Along with a great supporting cast as well as some beautiful imagery and Aaron Sorkin’s inventive screenplay. The film is a provocative yet ravishing portrait of one of the great figures of the 20th and 21st Century who changed the world with technology as well as someone who was also very complicated professionally and personally. In the end, Steve Jobs is a spectacular film from Danny Boyle.

Danny Boyle Films: Shallow Grave - Trainspotting - A Life Less Ordinary - The Beach - 28 Days Later - Millions - Sunshine - Slumdog Millionaire - 127 Hours - Trance - T2 Trainspotting - (Yesterday (2019 film))

© thevoid99 2015


Paul S said...

Steve Jobs is terrific! There isn't a single wasted word here, the writing is so on point!
The scene with Daniels and Fassbender during the second act became so perfect I almost couldn't stand it.
Great review!

thevoid99 said...

@Paul S.-That scene between Daniels and Fassbender in the second act isn't just acting at its finest but absolute confirmation that Aaron Sorkin is one of the best writers working today. Man, that was just so fun to watch.