aNewDomain — If you liked hating Michael Fassbender as slave owner Edwin Epps in “12 Years a Slave,” you’ll love loathing him in many scenes during the “Steve Jobs“ movie.
Unlike his Epps, Fassbender’s Steve Jobs’ character does evolve and, in my opinion, redeems himself in the film’s third act.
Yes, Jobs actually progresses from having no interpersonal skills to developing some — at least as they pertain to his daughter, Lisa, whom you will root for throughout the film.
That Fasserman and script writer Aaron Sorkin could create a movie that made me dislike Jobs in the movie is a testament to their skills.
Yes, I’ve heard people who knew him characterize him as rude, high-pitched and whiny — difficult to a fault. But I thought that would make me just like him more. I never met the late Apple co-founder, but I think we would’ve hit it off if we had.
Like him, I’m narcissistic — and quite complex. Or so I’m told. (I think my narcissism is milder, and my cat says I’m definitely less complex — even though she hasn’t seen the movie.)
The Three Faces of Jobs
But Fassbender captures the complex personality and brilliance of Jobs. As the movie unfolds — through three acts that cover three significant product launches — it feels like you’re reliving key moments in Jobs’ career.
There’s the troubled debut of the Macintosh that lead to Jobs’ dismissal by his father figure, John Sculley (compassionately played by Jeff Daniels).
Then there’s the showy debut of NeXT, a computer system that didn’t quite work but did look cool. the NextOS, of course, ultimately led to Apple’s OS X and iOS operating systems.
The film wraps up with Jobs’ triumphant unveiling of the iMac after his return to Apple.
Oh, and there’s that touching scene with John Sculley that apparently never happened, at least according to Apple inventor and co-founder Steve Wozniak.
This is why movies are often more entertaining than real life, by the way.
And by not going gaga over Fassbender, I was able to root for and care about many of the film’s other characters, like Jobs’ daughter, Lisa, or his right-hand woman, Joanna Hoffman (played by Kate Winslet). I got to know Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (engagingly played by Seth Rogen), too, and while I was familiar with Wozniak, I’d never heard of Hoffman until I saw the movie.
Movies are better when actors have confidence and know their dialogue backwards, forwards, left and right.
“Steve Jobs” was shot in three acts, and each act was preceded by an intense reheasal period. This really showed up in the film.
During a Q&A following the screening at the Directors Guild of America last weekend, actress Kate Winslet said that actors are frequently promised rehearsals but seldom get them. The time is usually eaten away by costume fittings and similar necessities.
But director Danny Boyle insisted on two things for “Steve Jobs.” First, the movie had to be filmed in San Francisco. Second, the actors had to have dedicated rehearsal time. He said that the studio hated having to pay the crew while the actors rehearsed. Hopefully, the studio will see the proof in the pudding, especially as Award Season rolls around.
My money says the cast may get nominated for a SAG-AFTRA best ensemble cast award, and that Fassbender will be nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his portrayal of Jobs. Winslet, Sorkin and Boyle should also get some award nods. Winslet is so convincing as Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’ ever-faithful ally, that I didn’t realize who had played the role until the actress walked onstage for the Q&A. (She is attractive as Hoffman, but has been more of a classic knockout in other roles, such as “Titanic” to “Contagion.”)
Every actor, myself included, would kill (or at least maim) to work with Danny Boyle after seeing this movie and hearing the cast members praise Boyle for locking in a rehearsal period. Seth Rogen said that he quickly realized that Aaron Sorkin dialogue couldn’t be ad-libbed, so he was very grateful for rehearsals. Although I would gladly grab a glass of wine with Kate Winslet or Jeff Daniels, who seem incredibly down-to-earth, I could easily pal around with Seth Rogen. Hopefully, he would settle for a beer instead of a blunt — I hate smoking. Of course, brownies might be a possibility with, you know, the prescribed medical marijuana-type of weed, but I digress …
Back to my review of “Steve Jobs” (Wow, even talking about Rogen makes me feel buzzed.)
Wozniak and the Like-ability of Sorkin’s Characters
I loved Rogen’s Wozniak because he stood up to Steve Jobs. As I said previously, movies are sometimes better than real life, because apparently Woz’s demeanor (specifically all the cursing) is complete fiction. Wozniak told aNewDomain’s Gina Smith that the Woz/Jobs confrontational conversations never happened.
Not even the cool scene where Woz pesters and demands that Jobs credit the Apple ][ team. And if the confrontations had happened, no swearing would have been involved. Gee, I’m not a fan of swearing, but curse words drip magnificently off Rogen’s tongue. I adored his character in the movie. His Woz was so likable and human that I hope that the real Woz will consider uttering some swear words in 2016. A swearing resolution would be easy for most of us to keep. (Of course, I don’t mean to imply one needs to swear to be likable — usually it’s the contrary.)
Sorkin crafted a movie where I liked almost every character. Apple engineers, Lisa Jobs and even John Scully (well, everyone except Jobs). That’s right up until the movie’s third act. Your heart will melt for Lisa Jobs, who was played by three different actresses (at ages 5, 9 and 18). As Jobs’ relationship with his daughter unfolds in the first two acts of the movie, Jobs seems like the worst father ever. And sadly, Chrisann Brennan, Lisa’s wacky mom and Jobs’ high school girlfriend (played by Katherine Waterston), doesn’t seem any better. I was so worried about how Lisa turned out that I googled her that night, and she appears to have turned out swell despite her parents.
By the end of the movie my warm, fuzzy feelings for Steve Jobs returned because I saw real growth in a guy who may have been more comfortable working with machines than people. In one scene, Wozniak asks Jobs about his “Steve Jobs” character that appears at Apple launch events. This is a great scene — it’s there so that we see there’s a showy Steve Jobs who appears at Apple launches, and he was most likely just as nerdy as Woz in his day-to-day life.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has said that the movie is based on facts without being completely literal. Some scenes were what he imagined might have been said if the event had actually happened. For example, John Scully didn’t actually have a chat with Jobs prior to the unveiling of the iMac. But I bet he wishes he had.
I wound up wanting to have lunch with Jeff Daniels’ John Scully because I have always wanted a strong father figure myself. A friend of mine that worked with Scully at United Artists described him as a prince of a man, so I suspect he is as likable as Jeff Daniels.
After seeing this flick, I want to watch every Michael Fassbender movie that I’ve missed, and I’ve missed a few. “Shame” tops my list because I have friends that dreamed about Fassbender after seeing that movie. And the dreams would have been rated “R” or “X” — Fassbender apparently has a fabulous body that could sell popcorn all night long.
Here’s the trailer for “Steve Jobs.”
Video: Steve Jobs – Official Trailer (HD)
And, if you want to see the real Jobs in action, check out the introduction of the iMac from the Apple History Channel.
Video: The First iMac Introduction
See the movie, it’s worth it.
For aNewDomain, I’m Terry Gardner.
Images in order: Steve Jobs/Michael Fassbender courtesy Universal Trailer; John Sculley/Jeff Daniels courtesy University Trailer; “Steve Jobs” panel at Directors Guild of America by Terry Gardner; Joanna Hoffman/Kate Winslet courtesy University Trailer; Lisa Brennan-Jobs via Wikimedia Commons.