I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here before, but my absolute favorite movie is “The Social Network”. Not only do I think it is a superbly made film in every aspect, but it was also really important in my life for many reasons. It also made me realize that not every movie based on real events or on real people has to be extremely accurate, since usually reality isn’t actually that exciting to build a two-hour movie upon. I’d never been a fan of Mark Zuckerberg before the movie, so when I decided to watch “Steve Jobs”, I wasn’t concerned about not knowing much about the man, or not being particularly fond of him. However, this movie had a very different effect on me, and I thought I’d talk about my likes and dislikes about it.
“Steve Jobs” is divided in three acts, each one picking up just before one major tech launch: the Macintosh (1984), NeXT (1988) and the iMac (1998). We never get to see the actual presentations, but instead the movie chooses to focus on the relationships that are taking place behind the scenes. I thought this was a very smart choice, as most of us already know Jobs’ public persona, and getting some insight at who he was outside the public eye makes for a more interesting narrative. The movie did make Jobs look like a terrible person for most of it, and this was something that bothered me a little. Something I find interesting about these types of movies is the ability to show that these people who have billions of dollars in their bank accounts are not that different from us, they have their good and bad sides, they act like douchebags sometimes and they make a lot of mistakes. I kept wondering why the movie made the choice to portray its main character in a more one-dimensional way, showing only the more egomaniac and abrasive side of his personality. My best guess is that the script assumed that the audience already perceived Jobs as some kind of a myth, and so showing a more human side would create a better and more dramatic story and eliminate some of the distance between the character and the public.
I tend to be a big fan of Aaron Sorkin’s screenplays. I’ve already mentioned “The Social Network”, and I’m also a huge fan of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”, one of the saddest cancellations in the history of television. This was a very Sorkin script, though it didn’t have any big moments like his other works have. The entire movie felt a bit subdued, and I think it lacked some of the energy that you expect from his scripts. The acting is not to blame, however, as Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen and Kate Winslet did great jobs. I can imagine that playing characters who are so iconic and known by the public can be tricky, and they pulled it off perfectly. I thought Seth Rogen was a big surprise here, and I’d like to see him playing more demanding roles like this more often.
Ultimately, I think it was the direction that put me off a little bit. I felt like the big, flashy title cards didn’t fit with the tone of the rest of the movie, and overall I thought something was off. Maybe it was too energetic for a movie that didn’t actually require that energy, or maybe it was wondering what David Fincher would have done with it had he directed it as originally planned (I’m a fan, what can I say?).
This movie fell short of my expectations, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad movie. The division into acts was a nice touch that made the timing of the story more palpable, and also allowed for the characters to change and develop (both mentally and aesthetically) in a way that didn’t feel rushed, as you know how much time is passing between acts. I was expecting something more along the lines of “The Social Network”, to be honest, and maybe going in having that comparison in my mind kind of spoiled the movie for me. It’s silly to try and compare a movie to your favorite because it will never actually live up to those high standards. It was a good pastime, however, and I recommend watching it even if it’s just for the great acting.
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