Cinema Cindy Reviews ‘Steve Jobs’

By Cynthia Biddlecomb
Los Alamos

“Steve Jobs” is a film about the computing visionary of the same name during his turbulent years from 1984 to 1998. Professionally, this is the period from his development of the Macintosh computer, turning away from the Apple II, through his dismissal from Apple and founding of NeXT computing, into his rehire as CEO of Apple and the launch of the iMac. The successes of his succeeding years are left out.

Movie poster for ‘Steve Jobs.’ Courtesy Reel Deal Theater

The screenplay is brilliantly written by Aaron Sorkin (West Wing) and edited so that you are immediately taken into the world of the infuriating genius of Steve Jobs. The dialogue is snappy and well enunciated, so you don’t miss any of the humor or jabs. Three product launch events form the framework within which the story is told. The interiors of San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House and Davies Symphony Hall feature prominently as two of the launch venues.

In the minutes before each product launch, Jobs is visited (like Scrooge) by those who haunt him personally—Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), their daughter Lisa (played at ages 5, 9 and 19 by Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo and Perla Haney-Jardine), Apple CEO John Scully (Jeff Daniels), and former business partner Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen). Between the visitors, there is scrambling to be certain the product will perform as envisioned and promised. Stage directors panic. Attendees stomp their feet in anticipation.

Through all of it, the person who helps him keep himself together is Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), his marketing executive. Winslet steals this show. Hoffman, it turns out, is the only one who can consistently stand up to Jobs. She is consistent and reliable, unlike Jobs.

Playing Steve Jobs is Michael Fassbender (The X-Men franchise; 12 Years a Slave). Through flashbacks to the original garage where he and Wozniak created their first computer, through the 80s and 90s, Fassbender embodies the changing styles of each era as well as the complicated ego of the man. He is so sure of his own genius and so clueless about the people for whom he should be responsible, that one has to wonder why any of them come back for more.

As a biographical film, this one tells the personality quirks and painful history of a man so revered as to have had his own cult following. Computing history is only a sidelight of the story, but is layered into the film with accuracy and respect. Interestingly, the opening frames are an old film with Arthur C. Clarke postulating on the future impact of computers.

‘Steve Jobs’ is rated R for language and it runs 122 minutes. It is not doing well at the box office, but it still ought to keep your interest for the duration of the film.