Steve Jobs Review – The Conductor of the Tech Opera
“Musicians play their instruments. I play the Orchestra.”
What is it about Steve Jobs, the man, that makes people idolise him? Is it the products he made at Apple, or his unbreakable spirit in the face of insurmountable odds? Or, is it merely good PR on behalf of Apple – and a bunch of fans with low-self esteem craving to fit in with the ‘cool guys’ and talk about Steve Jobs as though they actually know shit?
To understand this man – I’ve watched 3 movies. The first one – is ‘JOBS’. The Ashton Kutcher one. Yeah. I actually watched it, and despite all attempts to be mild – I cannot help but tell you rather bluntly that it was worse than – errr… maggots on a birthday cake. An unbearable boring, dramatized version of fiction. Then I watched another movie – called “Pirates of Silicon Valley” – and this one, although much older, was brilliant. It explained the cut-throat nature of the founders of two of the biggest tech companies of today – Apple and Microsoft, and never shied away from calling them “Pirates” (if it was hard to deduce from the title). And I loved that objectivity in the face of blind fan-boy admiration.
Now I’m going to be honest – and declare my bias towards the brand Apple. I love the thought behind their products and their attention to detail with design. But unlike most other Apple fans, I do not consider myself a patriot. I love intelligent technology more than I love Apple itself – and I wanted a movie that showed me Steve Jobs – beyond the fandom. I wanted to know the man.
Fast forward to 2015 – and Steve Jobs is announced. Fassbender is rumoured to be the lead – and Kate Winslet was playing a rather unknown assistant. Now I don’t usually delve into plot explanations – cause well, you have IMDb for that – but I’m going to make an exception here.
Steve Jobs is broken into 3 segments. All 3 segments are the moments just before 3 product launches. And the craziest thing – THEY DON’T ACTUALLY SHOW THE LAUNCH EVENTS! It’s like a frustrating montage of build-ups that prides itself on leaving you hanging. And I loved it!
So the movie jumps straight in – no bullshit. A black and white clip of Arthur C. Clarke, writer of ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey’, predicting the future of tech– and BANG – we’re into segment one. Steve Jobs is complaining about the legally required ‘EXIT’ signs visible next to the stage. He doesn’t want them. And in a strange way – it seems to reflect Apple’s closed ecosystem with that opening. You enter – only to never leave again.
And the movie is full of incredibly brisk dialogue, that is perhaps its single most entertaining feature. It is almost entirely broken up into heated verbal tennis matches – between a man we all think we know, and a bold head of marketing who questions and counters every ‘serve’ with firm honest rebuttals.
This to and fro theme is so cleverly scripted, merging documented fact with theorised interaction, that the 122-minute runtime almost feels inadequate. It explores Steve Jobs, the man, via 3 major relationships.
We see him berate Andy Hertzfeld, Chief Engineer for the Mac – cause Steve’s vision for technology was too impractical according to engineers at the time. We see him disavow Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder of Apple, because he felt dwelling on past failures distracted from concentrating on the current product. We witness his confused relationship with his Lisa, his claimed daughter, telling us how wrong a man could be, even in his most triumphant moments.
And to properly grasp that the movie – squeezed all this in 3 simple segments backstage, minutes before a product launch – is a task of monumental proportions, and deserves the standing ovation Apple products receive at their unveilings. Or so I would like to believe, cause well – I have a MacBook with a Force Touch Trackpad. And an iPhone. And an iPad. And another Macbook. Hell I would’ve gotten an Apple logo carved into my coffin if it wasn’t for fear of them slapping a bloody patent of ‘Samsung-esque’ proportions on my ‘Dead Serious’ face. Did I say I was not a fan-boy before?
So – why do I think this movie is brilliant?
(Other than because “JOBS”, starring 6 time Oscar nominee Ashton Kutcher of ‘What Happens in Vegas’ fame, is literally the worst movie ever made – like in all of history and it so happens that that -… THAT is the only competition?!)
Because ‘Steve Jobs’ is directed by the same guy who made a film based on the city I live in!
Yeah – give it up for Mumbai…! Woo Hoo –
No – that’s err… not the real reason. Really – it isn’t.
Steve Jobs was a man who was both arrogantly great and uncaringly oppressive in equal measure. To define a human being merely by what you see on stage, in front of a camera, is a gross error of judgement. The real show is always backstage, behind the glittery curtains bathed in spotlights.
And ‘Steve Jobs’, the movie, does a pretty damn perfect job of telling us that story.
You can criticise Steve Jobs, the man, for his brand of overpriced products. You can criticise people for overlooking his inhumanely pushy nature and the questionable methods employed in setting the company up. But if ‘Steve Jobs’ shows us one thing, it is that it was his ability to be resilient that made him work. Not his genius or jeans he wore during his presentations.
There’s a scene where Fassbender says, with almost malicious excitement – “They don’t know what they’re looking at, or why they like it, but they’ll know they want it.”
He was talking about the product. Perhaps it fits the movie as well. And Apple fan or not – this is why you must watch it. Now.