Steve Jobs (15.)
Directed by Danny Boyle.
Starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg and Katherine Waterston. 122 mins
In the film of his name, we drop in on Steve Jobs in the half hour or so before three of the most important product launches of his career. Each time the same selection of characters – family members and colleagues, all estranged to various degrees – turn up to engage in slanging matches that reveal a version of his life and times. Usually the product being launched look enticing, is beautifully designed but doesn't actually do much. The film of his name is sharp, energetic, fizzes with wit and ideas but is fundamentally not much use to anyone.
At one point Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Rogen) asks him, “What did you do?” It’s the central question of any biopic but after sitting through this all-warts account of his life I still have little idea of what exactly was so special about this egotistical control freak, or why he inspired such rabid and creepy devotion, or the hostility of this portrait. It's a character assassination, but you never find out what motivated the hit. Of course Fassbinder is mesmerising in the main role but Fassbinder is mesmerising as everything, he can be mesmerising with a bag on his head: Fassbinder being interesting as you, doesn’t make you interesting.
The one thing I did learn is that Apple products, on Jobs insistence, were so self contained and made so that they couldn't be integrated with anything else, that they had little application or use beyond their own existence, which makes them a perfect subject for an Aaron Sorkin screenplay. The Jobs script is stuffed full of inch perfect witticism and barbs: at one point to explain the necessary human cost of his perfectionism Jobs says, “God sent his only son on a suicide mission, but we like him because he made trees.” It's a line so good you may gasp in surprise before you laugh at it and there is a sense with all of it that it isn't really there for you to enjoy, but admire. His lines come complete their own round of applause already installed. As in the Social Network the cast are encouraged to lob them around with a casual disregard, to suggest a level where this kind of cleverness is the norm, an existence way beyond our slob norms.
The script is so all knowing it even sends up the limitations of its attempts to compress all his life into The Three Product Launches of Steve Jobs format: “it's like 5 minutes before every launch everybody goes to a bar, gets drunk and tells me what they really think of me.” None of which should be taken to suggest this isn't an entertaining film in itself, but I just keep coming back to the question of what did he do? The man himself tells us that he is bringing us the future, a monumental revolution in society and is he probably right – he heralded in the era of evangelical consumerism. He was a bit like a pretentious Alan Sugar