Steve Jobs (DVD Review)

15 – 117mins – 2015


THREE BYTES OF THE APPLE

“No-one sees the world the same way you do.”

Following his 2011 death from pancreatic cancer, Apple CEO and business icon Steve Jobs has already had his life put under the microscope in 2013’s middling Jobs, with Ashton Kutcher playing the divisive genius. Just three years later and Michael Fassbender is putting his toilet-rinsed feet into the quirky genius’s shoes in this adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s biography, directed by Slumdog Millionaire’s Danny Boyle and scripted by The West Wing supremo Aaron Sorkin.

Set backstage in the minutes before the launch of pivotal, potentially world-affecting products (Microsoft in 1984, the NeXT Black Cube in 1988 and the iMac 3 in 1998), Sorkin’s structure bravely chronicles Jobs’ incredible decades-spanning career in just three acts (interspersed with graphic-heavy infomercial-esque montages), while his verbose script pulls no punches in presenting an intimate portrayal of a man who put his striving for success above everything – and everyone.

“I don’t want people to dislike me; I’m indifferent to whether they dislike me.”

There’s no disputing Sorkin succeeds in crafting an inspiring and dramatic character study (even if questions have since been raised about the accuracy of his portrayal of Jobs’ insufferable personality), however despite a ramping up of the human drama in act three, my attention was waning due to the repetitive nature of all the seemingly life-long dramas somehow still raging.

“It’s like five minutes before every launch, people go to the bar, get drunk, then tell me what they REALLY think.”

By this final scene we are fourteen years on from the beginning of the film, yet the same jokes are still being told (“Andy? Which one?!”), the same magazine articles are still being referenced and the same faces still keep popping up with the same bitter gripes. Even Steve comments that the mother of his child has “had the same sinus infection since 1988!”

The phrase “reality distortion” is used in the film. Rather aptly, that’s exactly what Steve Jobs feels like – everything feels so convenient, so stagey and so precisely scripted. Its attention to callbacks is commendable, but it doesn’t feel at all realistic or progressive, and it begins to feel overtly reliant on nifty, back-slapping script conventions.

Despite being guilty of over-egging the man’s futile exasperation at living in Steve’s shadow, Seth Rogen (The Night Before) nonetheless delivers quite possibly his most emotionally-diverse performance to date as Apple co-founder and Apple II creator Steve “Woz” Wozniak, while Kate Winslet is next-to-unrecognisable as marketing exec and Jobs’ confidant, Joanna Hoffman.

As Steve steps out on stage to launch the iMac 3 in the films’ final moments, Boyle basks his leading man in a rousing, emphatic and messiah-like slow-mo eruption of applause and adoration, coercing the viewer to congratulate a man we have spent two hours being shown to be a flawed father, friend and business partner. Its at odds with what preceded it, sending out a muddy final message. He might well be a brilliant and accomplished genius, but “things don’t become so just because [Steve Jobs] say[s] so.”

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars

The Night Before (DVD Review)

15 – 97mins – 2015


DICK THE HALLS

For people of a certain age and particular mentality, this is a fun and easily accessible conglomo-homage to all the classic Christmas movies they watched growing up (Home Alone, Die Hard, Santa Claus: The Movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Grinch), fused with some trademark Seth Rogan stoner humour and life-affirming epiphanies. For everyone else, this is a series of crude and lazy riffs on more popular films which are used as a crutch to support some frankly immature and indecent japes, with the whole sorry affair tied up in an overly-sentimental bow.

From the guys who brought you Pineapple Express comes yet another excuse for Seth Rogan to get his bezzie mates in a film, with The Walk‘s Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie completing a trio of lifelong friends who meet up every Christmas Eve to totally lose their shit to drink and debauchery in an effort to help JGL’s Ethan get over the painful time of year when he lost his parents 15 years earlier.

Realising that work commitments, family responsibility and adulthood are looming and pulling them all in different directions, the ladz decide to hang up their annual festive tradition with one final motherfunkin’ blow-out at the Holy Grail of Christmas parties – the elusive, invite-only Nutcracka Ball. I suppose an alternative title could have been This Is The End of Christmas Tradition.

Bewilderingly, Isaac (Rogen) is gifted a Pandora’s box of drugs by his astoundingly understanding pregnant wife (Jillian Bell), while newly famous football star Chris (Mackie) is desperate to avoid his smothering mother (Lorraine Toussaint) and score some weed to impress his domineering jack-ass of a team captain (Aaron Hill). Commitment-phobic Ethan, however, is just looking for a chance to forget what a mess his life is in and hang out with his childhood buds – until he bumps into his ex (Lizzy Caplan), and realises he may have made a big mistake in letting her go…

With swapped mobiles, stolen stashes, chance encounters and an enigmatic drug dealer (Michael Shannon) busying their road to the Ball, the bromance suffers some kicks to the nether-regions before the pals get wise and comfortable with growing up and settling down. It’s a sweet and timeless message to end on, provided you can endure a crowbarred Miley Cyrus sing-along (akin to her stint in A Very Murray Christmas) and James Franco dick pics (yes, you read that right) en route.

CR@B Verdict: 2 stars