Steve Jobs

Hi everyone and Happy Holidays. This week we’ll take a look at Steve Jobs, directed by Danny Boyle, starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, and Seth Rogen. It is Rated R for strong language.

From IMDB His passion and ingenuity have been the driving force behind the digital age. However his drive to revolutionize technology was sacrificial. Ultimately it affected his family life and possibly his health. In this revealing film we explore the trials and triumphs of a modern day genius, the late CEO of Apple inc. Steven Paul Jobs.

8.5 out of 10

Steve Jobs, named after the one and only, has Sorkin written all over it. It’s got the same fast-paced grit of The Social Network and the smart, sleek style of Moneyball. This may just be his best one yet though, thanks to a pair of dynamic performances and direction that gives Steve Jobs, one of this generation’s most influential people, a movie that accurately depicts his accomplishments and his failures, both as the co-founder of Apple and as a human being.

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I didn’t think he could get any better than 12 Years a Slave, where he played brutal slave owner Edwin Epps, but alas, he has outdone himself. Michael Fassbender is the driving force of Steve Jobs, bringing both the good and the bad to the titular character. Jobs is not a hero. He is not a good guy. He is not even a nice guy. But he’s human, and that is where Fassbender’s portrayal comes close to perfection. Despite there being no physical resemblance, Fassbender plays the man that we know and want to see; The hard nose, rude, egotistical man who has no mercy for his subordinates. But the most incredible thing is that there is still another side to it all. Steve Jobs still loves his daughter and despite neglecting her for the longest time, eventually shows that his love is unconditional. You’re going to be hearing Fassbender’s name during Oscar season, and deservedly so.

Backing Fassbender up is Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman, marketing executive for Apple and more importantly, Jobs’ confidant. She is a tour de force, proving to be the only person that can stand toe to toe with the powerful, intimidating Jobs. She matches him blow for blow, proving to be a voice of reason that he not only listens to, but follows.

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The direction of the film is done in a way where everything is very fast paced and continuously moving– much like the life of Jobs. The transitions between scenes and time periods are flawlessly done through montages of what happens in between the events of the scenes that are taking place. There are really only three or four actual moments illustrated in this entire movie, but each is stretched out to capture every ounce of tension. Every emotion is exposed and used.

The opening of the film is a perfect example of that– one particular moment in which Jobs is demanding his employees to fix the computer for a presentation without regard for the risk of the fix. Intertwined with a fight with his ex-lover over child support, the direction in this scene maximizes the intensity of both sides of Jobs’ life and fuels them together. This is done throughout the movie, making every scene more intense than the one before it.

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The fast-paced nature of Steve Jobs, mixed with a soundtrack and styling that give it a high energy, would not seem appropriate for a biopic. However, this film is anything but conventional. Danny Boyle does an outstanding job of controlling the pace and emotions of the film, aided by a fantastic script. However, in the end, Michael Fassbender is easily the star, commanding this movie with unmatched grit and power, masterfully playing one of the most admired and loathed man of our generation.

9 out of 10

We’re gonna need some background here (Minor spoilers): Steve Jobs (No, your brain isn’t melting. We did get one of these biopics about two years ago as well.) is spread over three sections, three different Apple product launches over three different decades. It’s pretty claustrophobic with all the major plays taking place in the backstage of every presentation and the roster limited to a tight chorale of characters (Funny enough, it kind of gave me Birdman flashbacks).

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So, what’d I think of this structure? Did the whole three act thing behoove the story exactly or did it just staccato things? Here’s the short answer: it was like seeing the same story three times with escalating tensions and stakes, each execution better and more powerful than the last. We’ll get that negative out of the way first, of course: make no mistake and be warned, this is an identical story on repeat. The movie’s enclosed cast of characters kept it limited to glossing over the same points and arguments over and over (We see Jobs wrangle with his wife over money and with his companion “Woz” over the state of their company several times each. Strap in.) .

What’s the upshot to this production choice though? Well, as I said before, it’s all about the slow swell of tension. We may be seeing the same people debating the same things every section but, each time, things get a little more intense, a little more ground is covered and everyone gets a little angrier. In that respect, the movie perfectly plunges us into Steve’s top entanglements with impeccable pacing. It’s all also theatrical enough to be satisfying but realistic enough to ensure that its not straying from or romanticizing the true story (See Social Network for some of these mistakes.).

And I really can’t stress this enough: if there’s one thing West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin behind this can write, it’s a heckuva pounding argument (He always does that moment exact moment where ego flickers on and seizes control so well). Michael Fassbender may just be the best vessel out there for Sorkin’s talents as he churns out a cool and calculating yet bubbling, fiery performance (As expected, dear Magneto did me proud with some Oscar-tier work). Coupled with fantastic work from Seth Rogen (You read that right) and Kate Winslet, some of these spat scenes hit such a climatic pitch of writing and acting that they leave you feeling absolutely throttled.

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Part of me does indeed wish I got a linear, lengthy “rise and fall of Steve Jobs” story or something along those lines but I appreciate director Danny Boyle’s foray into a more abstract, bare bones, no B.S. type of biopic. With some lush, breezy transitions to keep things moving and equally powerful acting, Jobs takes it place as a solid contender to be one of the top films of the year and (pretty much as expected) surpasses its Ashton Kutcher predecessor.


The Interview

Amid all the controversy, we take a look at the infamous comedy The Interview. Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and starring James Franco, Rogen, and Randall Park, it is rated R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence.

If you’ve been living in a hole the past few weeks and don’t know what the film is about, The Interview follows celebrity talk show host Dave Skylark (Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Rogen) as they land an interview with avid fan and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. As the duo prepares for their interview, the CIA prepares them, two of the most unqualified men alive, to assasinate the totalitarian leader.

5 out of 10

Let’s be honest, the only reason any of us saw this movie is because of the huge stir it caused. In case you’ve been living under a rock for weeks, The Interview is, in a nutshell, about assassinating North Korean dictator Kim-Jong Un. No problem, right? Yeah, until terrorist threats were made on theaters that show the film. As a result, most theaters refused to show it. So Sony decided to put it online for people to stream. Maybe they realized how stupid the movie was and that they weren’t going to make much money from it, so might as well milk some controversy out of it (jokes). That concludes the extent of my current event knowledge. To be clear, there is no way this was a stunt, so get that out of your heads. Anyway, on to the movie. The Interview is definitely not Rogen or Franco’s best (This Is The End was golden), though it did provide a good laugh here and there.

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The first twenty minutes are pitifully terrible. The jokes aren’t funny. The opening image (a young Korean girl singing a song about raping women while a missile launches, at least I think) is kinda funny, but also kind of tasteless. The writers had to heavily rely on being offensive rather than being clever, which is, in retrospect perfectly okay, but only to a limit. Which this film had none of. The bit with Eminem put a smile on my face, but nothing sustained. My point is, there was absolutely nothing special about the beginning of the film. James Franco character was, to put it nicely, a dumbass. He wasn’t even a funny dumbass, he was just a dumbass.

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However, it did pick up, albeit slightly. The satirical nature of Kim Jong Un and the relationship that him and Dave Skylark (Franco) was really funny at moments– the Katy Perry part was a fun little reference. I guess the stupidity of Skylark’s character did lead to a lot of humorous moments, but at the same time, it was overkill. That was this film’s main problem; it didn’t know its limits. It overused and overkilled just about every single joke. Everything became stale and unoriginal. To put the cherry on top, there was some really excessive violence towards the end, in the form of a Korean graphically biting off Seth Rogen’s hand. That was a little much, an example of the film not knowing its limitations. The ending was ridiculous, a little bit anticlimactic but *spoiler* Kim-Jong Un blows up in incredulous fashion, so I’m not sure what else you can ask for.

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I’ll be honest here (lot of honesty in this post), I’m kind of struggling with figuring out what to say at this point. The jokes were mediocre, James Franco’s character was dumb, rinse and repeat. It’s silly, immature, weird, whacky, crazy, etc. etc. etc. It’s really a hit or miss. This is the kind of movie I would watch at Zach’s house at three in the morning when we don’t have anything else to do. You could think its funny, you could think its very unfunny. So my verdict is this: it’s worth a view if you have nothing else to do, and six bucks is a nice price to pay if you can watch it with all your friends in the luxury of your home. But, if this movie was in theaters, no way I’m paying to go see it. This is no Horrible Bosses or 21 Jump Street, but hey, Go America right?

4.5 out of 10

Let me preface this by saying that I love free speech so much. It’s probably one of the reasons that our revolution was successful when so many others haven’t been. It’s probably the reason that we don’t have to call ourselves the Democratic Peoples Republic of the United States. It’s most definitely the reason that unqualified idiot like us can start a WordPress and just kinda write our thoughts.
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I say all of this because the GOP is about 90% why we’re talking about this film as a nation. Terrorism is great publicity, folks, and using fear to strip an entire population of its liberties worked startlingly well in this case. So if you really do want to see this and let freedom reign, do it! By all means, stick it to the all those Juches. But my task here isn’t to defend free speech, it’s to review a movie which is why I have to say: The Interview sucked for the most part.

I love it when North Korea tries to intimidate and it all just blows up in its face but this pretty forgettable film isn’t really worth all of the conversation swirling around it that’s drawing in the masses. It’s pretty stupid. It’s like if That’s My Boy, Hangover III or any of their mediocre peers just won some political controversy lottery and got about $15 million worth and a whole week of nonstop publicity.

What do I look at as the model for modern political satire? Borat. Borat is very, very stupid yes but it’s also very smart in that it uses that stupidity to show how ignorant both the Americans Borat interacts with and the culture he pretends to hail from can be. The Interview is a slew of pretty cheap shots at North Korea that have all been covered: Kim Jong Un is supposed to be a God but he’s really a tubby, overgrown kid; the entire nation purports that it’s a utopia but it’s crappy etc.

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It’s almost like a Sony executive sat down and surfed Youtube for a solid day and figured out that people love to hate the tiny country. The problem with that is that it’s kind of odd to just pick on North Korea right now for political satire. With everything going on and all of the cartoonish enemies we have against us, they chose the DPRK? Why not a movie where Franco and Rogen spy on Putin? I would legitimately watch the hell out of that.

Notice I haven’t really lampooned either of our two leads here. Even though they don’t have a lot of material to work with, they rock it. Whenever they’re working together, it feels very eased and genuine since they have a friendship to build on. They do excellent work here but it isn’t enough to cave the movie from all of its hackneyed humor. The plot that surrounds them is pretty predictable as well; it was one of those plots where you could slowly predict more and more about as it unraveled.

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See it? Unless you really care about democracy and our liberties, I would take a pass on this. Let’s just say Kim Jong Un is extremely lucky that the first widespread satire of his rule wasn’t quite pitch-perfect.

**The 0.5 is because I love my country.