STEVE JOBS early buzz: "Virtuosic filmmaking all around"

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“Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first Oscar frontrunners… Steve Jobs and Michael Fassbender.” Those aren’t my prognosticating words, but that rather of David Poland, one of the film critics who was in attendance at Telluride Film Festival for the premiere of Steve Jobs, the upcoming biopic starring Fassbender as the controversial late Apple boss, directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 127 Hours), and written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing).

Many film critics, bloggers, journalists and folks just lucky enough to be in attendance at the Colorado set film festival took to the internet yesterday after Steve Jobs‘ worldwide debut, and the word on the street is that it not only completely erases the memory of the previous biopic about the tech pioneer – the bland Ashton Kutcher starring iJobs – but looks to be serious contender for the upcoming awards season.

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Although the movie seems to have some problems with sticking its ending (most of them seemingly being laid at Boyle’s feet), the praise is pretty much universal for an incredible awards-worthy performance from Fassbender. The Oscar-nominated actor looks and sounds nothing like Jobs, but that reportedly doesn’t seem to matter at all due to his magnetic showing. Similarly Sorkin apparently takes huge liberties with facts, turning this more into a fictionalized account of true events, but it makes for a firecracker of a script full of Sorkin’s trademark rapid-fire dialogue.

That last bit could also be a negative to people who are not fans of the writer’s verbose scripting though, as this film is reportedly full Sorkin to the max all the time. Luckily I am a Sorkin fanboy, so I’m super stoked for this. Here’s what everybody is saying, including a fair amount of praise for co-stars Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels and Seth Rogen (yes, him) as well:

Justin Chang (Variety):

In this unabashedly fictionalized context, Fassbender overcomes the obvious casting hurdle (he looks nothing like Jobs, whose Arab-American lineage is briefly referenced) and delivers a performance as enthralling and fully sustained as any on his estimable resume. That the actor is onscreen at every minute makes it all the better that it’s impossible to take your eyes off him, or your ears: This is an actor who knows exactly how to toss off Sorkin’s dialogue, emphasizing rhythm and inflection over volume, while embodying confidence and authority in his every atom. It’s a performance that sets the tone for equally fine work all around: Rogen delivers a lovable, downright huggable spin on Wozniak; Stuhlbarg mines layers of wry wisdom from Hertzfeld; and as Jobs’ right-hand woman, Winslet overcomes a wobbly Polish accent to provide the audience with an essential lifeline to reason and sanity.

 

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Todd McCarthy (THR):

Propulsively fast, fleet and inquisitive, the film is at the same time somewhat less flashy than most of Boyle’s most famous and successful works, including Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours. Due to its “backstage” setting and approximate real-time frame, Jobs can’t help but provoke memories of the recent Birdman, which breathtakingly covered continuous action with unprecedented fluidity. Boyle’s sophisticated but pragmatic visual approach to evoking a maelstrom of activity stands somewhere between that and more conventional cinema-verite, befitting, perhaps, the period in which it’s set.

But hardly any of this would matter without a dynamic actor at the center of things nailing the part of Jobs, and while Fassbender doesn’t closely physically resemble the man, he fully delivers the essentials of how we have come to perceive the man: Along with intellectual brilliance and force of personality, the actor also taps into the man’s frequently unreachability, power to inspire, unswerving faith in his own instincts, attention to the smallest detail, utter lack of sentimentality and the certitude that can come from occupying a different, loftier realm. Most of all, you get the strong sense from Fassbender of a mind that is always several steps beyond everyone else’s, one that allows him to shift gears without taking a breath.

Gregory Ellwood (HitFix):

Beyond Fassbender’s impressive performance the movie is assisted by a universally brilliant supporting cast. Winslet gives one of the best performances of her career providing Hoffman with a gravitas that isn’t always in the script. Rogen does more for Wozniak’s legacy with his performance in this one film than any of the computer pioneer’s recent public interviews ever have.  Daniels makes you root for Sculley even though he’s supposedly to blame for the dismal Apple Newton (it should be noted the movie depicts Sculley’s run as CEO as a complete disaster which simply isn’t the case). Stuhlbarg is absolutely fantastic as the one Apple employee Jobs has hurt the most, but who continues to look out for him. Waterston beautifully conveys the humiliation Chrisann feels after Jobs insists Lisa isn’t his daughter in TIME magazine of all places.

 

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  Rodrigo Perez (The Playlist):

A sort of companion piece to “The Social Network” — also about tech geniuses and what made them tick— “Steve Jobs” is actually even more accelerated and nimble. The entire movie is kind of pitched like the opening scene of Fincher’s ‘Social Network’ where Jessie Eisenberg and Rooney Mara engage in quick-fire tête-à-tête full of confusion as Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg is pinballing his way through five different subjects and the exasperated Erica Albright can barely keep up. “Steve Jobs” is that mode on steroids —Sorkin on an all-night Red Bull bender — and its breakneck results are utterly absorbing.

 


And just in case those endorsements of the movie wasn’t enough, here’s a look at the latest trailer to get you pumped up for Steve Jobs.

Set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac, Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter.

Steve Jobs also stars Michael Stuhlbarg, Perla Haney-Jardine, Vanessa Ross, John Ortiz and Adam Shapiro. It is scheduled for international release on October 9, while we will have to wait until Christmas day to watch it locally.

 

Last Updated: September 8, 2015

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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