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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Steve Jobs | Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogen, Michael Stuhlbarg | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Steve Jobs | Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogen, Michael Stuhlbarg | Review

Rethink that halo, people.

Turns out Steve Jobs, the innovative, iconic tech entrepreneur,  Apple front man and black-turtleneck aficionado was blunt, arrogant, selfish, often cruel…and a driven visionary who spoke fluent zeitgeist.

The quiet, confident , often megalomaniacal mouthpiece for Macintosh personal computers (1984) and later, the black, cube-like NeXT (1988) and the iMac (1998) routinely denied paternity of his daughter, and refused to acknowledge his Apple co-founder and former partner, Steve Wozniak’s formidable contribution to micro-computing, the Apple II.  Nice guy.

So why is the man almost a religion?  Not an engineer, not even an IT pro, he was essentially a “big picture” kinda guy.  The idea man.  The conductor who had no instrument himself but declared that his job was to “play the orchestra” -except that his orchestra contained people who didn’t much like being played.

The film that carries his name covers 15 pivotal years, three product launches, and several of Jobs’ turbulent relationships.  There’s anxiety-ridden Chrisann (Katherine Waterston) the mother of his oft-denied daughter Lisa (Mackenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, Perla Haney-Jardine).  There’s Jobs’ longtime marketing director and “work wife” Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) whose hairstyles and fashions remind us of the era. There’s former Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) who once fired Jobs from his own company and earnest engineer Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) who sucks up verbal abuse like a sponge.

Finally, there’s Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) who pops up as an occasional reminder of Jobs’ absolute refusal to share the spotlight.  By this time we know that all too well.

Director Danny Boyle (127 hours) and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) maintain twin tracks of verbal and kinetic swiftness, as if the film were the nano-second ideas coursing through Jobs’ synapses.  Dialog is rapid-fire; tensions sizzle, and flashbacks invade much like unbidden memories.  The two manage to capture a thought process on film and the result is a dynamic journey into a complex man who rarely played nice, but managed literally to transform the world with his products.

The talk is fast, witty and pointed, but the darts always seem to hit their targets.  That’s Sorkin.  Although most of the film takes place in a series of rooms with people talking to or at one another, there’s a sense of urgency.  That’s Boyle.

Fassbender brings the restless, decisive glory hog to life with an almost serene brutality, eventually revealing Jobs’ own insight that he is flawed.  Even HE (Jobs) wonders why.  Winslet wins as the practical Hoffman, dishing out advice, threats and etiquette where needed.  Rogen’s Wozniak is a sympathetic straight man, injecting decency in a cutting edge industry that sometimes cuts throats.  Daniels is getting a lot of CEO/head honcho roles recently and it suits his world-weary demeanor.

I am leaving out great chunks of Job’s charisma, persuasiveness, and moments of regret.  Yes, he had them, wrapped tightly inside the omnipresent black turtleneck and let out only in brief moments with his daughter, or mentor, or right-hand woman.  

The film ends on a triumphant note.  Jobs’ life, after all was for the most part, a victory.   When the going got tough, Jobs kept going, leaving a legacy as immortal as the thousand songs around your neck or the internet in your pocket.

Jobs – well done.

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