Saturday, November 25, 2017
Things To Do

Review: 'Steve Jobs' looks good, but doesn't really do much

RECOMMENDED READING


Steve Jobs is a perfect cube of a movie, not unlike the tech visionary's design for a key failure in his career.

Danny Boyle's movie is meticulously crafted to artful specifications, written in Aaron Sorkin's torrential style and acted to perfection by a superb ensemble. Yet like Jobs' NeXT Cube in 1988, there's one obvious question that isn't satisfactorily answered:

What does it do?

The late Apple CEO, played by Michael Fassbender with focus verging on monotony, doesn't know his Cube's purpose in Boyle's equally unsure movie. It's one of three acts Sorkin devises, focused on backstage turmoil before the launches of three Jobs products, the first two failures.

Each timeframe — in 1984, 1988 and 1998 — is filmed by Alwin Kuchler in film stocks from those years, from grainy 16mm to high-def digital, reflecting the rapid advances Jobs helped to inspire. Otherwise, Steve Jobs isn't as much about his technology as the artificial humanity behind it.

Fassbender's Jobs 2.0 (after Ashton Kutcher's try) doesn't resemble the real thing except in narcissistic intensity, lifting his timbre to make harsh remarks sound even crueler. Jobs changes little about himself over the course of Sorkin's script, except for whatever armchair psychology the author (working from Walter Isaacson's biography) offers in Act 3. However, the unflattering portrait is so complete that Boyle's final, feel-good shot seems like a fantasy.

In 1984, Jobs is launching Macintosh, after a controversial Super Bowl ad that Apple's CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) and the board grudgingly approved. Backstage, Jobs is demanding the computer say "hello," which his chief engineer (Michael Stuhlbarg) can't do. Meanwhile, Jobs' ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston) is demanding more support for the daughter, Lisa, he denies fathering.

Popping in occasionally is Jobs' founding partner Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), lobbying for acknowledgement of his Apple II system that saved the corporation. Jobs hated the system, and coolly tolerates "Woz." Playing referee in this sleek geek scrum is Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), head of marketing and Jobs' conscience-in-vain.

These characters rotate in and out of all three segments, through the Cube release, up to the revolutionary iMac launch. Their issues with Jobs don't change, they get cycled through Sorkin's roundelay strategy of giving everyone a supporting Oscar chance. Boyle's job is setting up these verbal arias in interesting places, which he does, especially the film's pinnacle showdown between Jobs and Wozniak, set in the San Francisco Opera House orchestra pit.

Yet it is disappointing to see a Danny Boyle movie that doesn't really resemble one but might be better if it did. Boyle is led by Sorkin's inability to recognize the profundity of occasional silence. Sorkin's signature walk-and-talk rhythms dictate what Boyle must do, rather than unleash his surreal spirit.

The result is a perfect cube, which is all Jobs demands in 1988 to convince the public to buy what he's selling. It doesn't need to do anything except look good on display, which Steve Jobs certainly does. What else does it do? Not much for me.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

Comments

TODAYAutosF1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying8 a.m.NBCSNCollege basketballSavannah State at Texas Tech3 p.m.FSFNorth Florida at Miami4 p.m.Fox SunEmerald Coast Classic, final: TCU vs. St. Bonaventure-Maryland winner7 p.m.CBSSNBoston College at Provid...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Brian Setzer talks about Tom Petty, ‘The Simpsons’ and his third act with holiday music

Brian Setzer talks about Tom Petty, ‘The Simpsons’ and his third act with holiday music

Brian Setzer knows he’s overdue for a trip to Florida. For 13 years, the Grammy-winning rockabilly guitarist and big-band frontman has been packing theaters coast to coast for his annual Christmas Rocks Tour. But somehow, he keeps skipping this area....
Updated: 8 hours ago
Top things to do this weekend: Lindsey Stirling, Faizon Love, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live

Top things to do this weekend: Lindsey Stirling, Faizon Love, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live

PULLING STRINGS: Lindsey StirlingDubstep violist Lindsey Stirling shot to fame as a quarter-finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2010 and she has been rocking the spangles on Dancing With the Stars this season as the last woman left . But on Friday yo...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/24/17
5 things to do under $5 Nov. 23-30: Craft festival, License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day, Snow Bash

5 things to do under $5 Nov. 23-30: Craft festival, License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day, Snow Bash

1. Gem, Jewelry and Bead Show and Sale: Check out these rocks when more than 50 dealers from around the United States sell crystals, minerals, beads, gems and jewelry. $5. Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through ...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/24/17
4 art exhibits to check out with family (or on your own) over Thanksgiving weekend

4 art exhibits to check out with family (or on your own) over Thanksgiving weekend

Perhaps you have relatives in town for the weekend, and you’re running out of ways to entertain them. Or maybe you’re wondering what to do with your long weekend. There’s a perfect solution for either scenario: Go see some art. There’s plenty on vi...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/24/17
What's in theaters for Thanksgiving: 'Coco,' 'Last Flag Flying,' 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'

What's in theaters for Thanksgiving: 'Coco,' 'Last Flag Flying,' 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'

NOW IN THEATERS: COCO Disney-Pixar’s animated dramedy Coco (PG) is inspired by Mexico’s annual Dia de los Muertos, the "day of the dead" when departed ancestors are celebrated. Good for diversity, although the movie isn’t as good ...
Published: 11/22/17
Black Friday, Cyber Monday ticket deals in Tampa Bay: Amy Grant, Diana Krall, 98 Degrees and more

Black Friday, Cyber Monday ticket deals in Tampa Bay: Amy Grant, Diana Krall, 98 Degrees and more

This Black Friday weekend, you can head to your local shopping center and fight traffic to get the perfect gift. Or you can stay at home by your computer and give the gift of entertainment.A handful of Tampa Bay concert venues are offering ticket dea...
Published: 11/22/17
This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Brian Setzer, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, 21 Savage, more

This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Brian Setzer, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, 21 Savage, more

SWINGIN’ AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE: Brian Setzer OrchestraWhen you spend 13 straight Thanksgivings on the road, you build some traditions with your crew. "We get a big ballroom," said Brian Setzer. "I don’t know how many turkeys we go through, but ev...
Published: 11/22/17
Some ways to celebrate Thanksgiving that aren’t Thanksgiving

Some ways to celebrate Thanksgiving that aren’t Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day!Or is it? Sometimes life just doesn’t come together at 2 p.m. on Thursday.Circumstances mean it’s not always possible to sit around the table on Thanksgiving, a family in a Publix ad smiling over a glistening bird. Maybe family is ou...
Published: 11/22/17
Watch the unseen footage in ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ trailer

Watch the unseen footage in ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ trailer

Can we all agree that John Hughes' Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the ultimate Thanksgiving movie? (And maybe actually his best movie of the '80s? Think about it.) And though I'm sure many of us will be watching it again this holiday weekend, when...
Published: 11/22/17