Do a Shot: Every time Jobs needs clarification on which Andy someone is referring to.
Take a Drink: Whenever Jobs says something mean to someone.
Take a Drink: Every time someone calls Jobs out on being an asshole.
Take a Drink: Whenever a line of dialogue is totally Sorkin and definitely not something a normal human being would say.
Take a Drink: For every reiterated line of dialogue.
By: Hawk Ripjaw (A Toast) –
It’s hard to even describe Steve Jobs in the sense of a traditional plot structure, because it doesn’t have one. It doesn’t use the standard biopic format that takes the character from an early point in their life to the rise to fame, to the eventual fall from grace, etc. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin isn’t interested in that. Instead, Steve Jobs has exactly three scenes: three real-time sequences occurring immediately before the respective conferences unveiling the Macintosh, the NeXT, and the iMac. Each begins several minutes before the conference, and ends right before the conference kicks off before flash forwarding to the next time period and everyone’s wearing slightly fatter suits and slightly older person makeup. And the Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) in this movie is a stone-cold asshole who comes up with some failures, not the magical genius who later on in life became a role model to Jesus. Jobs failed numerous times and made many people extremely miserable, and this film focuses on that friction between him and his daughter, his advisor and friend Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterson), and Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg). Things get heated, and they don’t always work themselves out.
Aaron Sorkin’s writing is, as always, electric. The characters often spout lines of dialogue that are absolutely not real life, but Sorkin sells it with his trademark energy and rhythm. His characters are caricatures of real life individuals and their exaggerated personalities are fun to keep up with. True to form, Sorkin has a number of odd, witty lines that have no place in real world dialect but work incredibly well in this semi-surreal setting. The main through-line of the film is Jobs’ relationship with his daughter (portrayed in each new time period, respectively, by Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, and Perla Haney-Jardine) and his apparent desire to get closer to her wrestles with his own profound inability to get close to people.
Ashton Kutcher looks uncannily like Steve Jobs, and that’s the only thing that desperately boring Jobs movie had going for it. Michael Fassbender doesn’t particularly look like the legendary inventor until maybe the final act, but throughout the film he might as well have been possessed by the spirit of Jobs for the fire he brings to the role. He, Winslet, Rogen, Daniels, Stuhlbarg, and Waterson are all fantastic. With such a small playing field and such a large selection of quality performance, the energy when two or more of these characters is drawn into an argument feels titanic.
Steve Jobs is almost exactly two hours long. Those two hours could not have flown by more quickly. The movie is shot and edited like an action movie, with Danny Boyle’s reliably energetic direction sidestepping a single dull moment. Contrast that with, say, this weekend’s other release Jem and the Holograms, which was just as long but felt thrice the length. Whereas Jem was an exercise in brutal endurance, Steve Jobs sucks you in. By the time the film has arrived at its final third, you feel like you’ve barely seen enough. These people are bigger than the events they’re a part of here.
Boyle’s direction is as good as it’s always been; the director takes the three scenes/settings- something that might be a confining element for a lesser director- and utilizes them for tightly-crafted personal conversations while breaking away from the location in creative ways when he needs to, such as projecting an external image into a wall behind Jobs or utilizing a flashback to add meat to a conversation. One of the most exciting examples is an argument between Jobs and Sculley which juxtaposes the current argument with another one years earlier, jumping between past and present multiple times in the conversation. Boyle shoots and edits the thing like an action movie, while linking the two conversations together in a way that requires concentration to keep track of, but never ventures into incoherence.
Steve Jobs is a captivating, energetic piece of filmmaking, moving with a terrific energy that feels both lean and imposing all at once, and the combination of Sorkin’s writing and Fassbender’s performance will make you hate the character of Jobs but somehow want to root for him. It’s fiercely entertaining and unusual, and absolutely one of 2015’s best films.
P.S. The movie ends on a fairly powerful note, and while I won’t spoil how exactly it ends, I will share here the song that plays over the final minutes. It really sent things off with an emotional punch.