Steve Jobs (2015)

(Video on Demand, March 2016) It’s a good thing that Ashton Kutcher’s critically-dismissed Jobs (2013) exists, if only as a point of comparison to the far more audacious Steve Jobs. Both try to capture on-screen the life of the famously abrasive Apple co-founder, but the first plays it as straight as it can, while the latter takes a far more experimental approach to its subject. The crucial decision in making this film special is screenwriter Aaron Sorkins’s crucial intuition to structure the film around three key product presentations, allowing the film to focus on Jobs at three moments in his life. The consequences of this choice (including how mini-stories condense around those crucial moments) are nowhere near historically accurate, but they do make the film far more powerful. It helps that Steve Jobs is directed by Danny Boyle, who shoots each act differently and brings just enough of his stylistic experimentation to bear. Michael Fassbinder doesn’t look all that much like Jobs, but he creates a mesmerizing performance that carries the character. He’s ably supported by a number of good actors used effectively, but the star of the movie remains the script, with its overlapping dialogues, technically accurate jargon, fast-switching subplots and quotable moments (“I play the orchestra”). It amounts to a surprisingly good film, made even more surprising by how audience may think they already know enough about Jobs. And that may be Steve Jobs’s legacy: a thrilling execution that manages to prove that a fresh angle is often enough to make the familiar fascinating again.

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