Tag Archives: 127 Hours

“STEVE JOBS” Review (✫✫✫)

Creator. Entrepreneur. Father.

Steve Jobs is defined by three years of his life: 1984, 1988 and 1998.

The movie, Steve Jobs, covers these years of his life. So will this review.

1984

Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) is on edge. The Macintosh is malfunctioning. He is told by his technicians that the computer won’t say “Hello” to him. It’s 40 minutes before the product launches. His ex-girlfriend is waiting in the other room with her daughter, who Jobs insists isn’t his, wondering why they are both living on welfare while he is making millions. He paces back and forth in between his professional and personal problems. He tells his technician to fix it and walks off stage.

Fassbender is mesmerizing as Jobs. He’s ecstatic, energetic, passionate. He’s tense, egotistical, confrontational. He’s at peace when thinking about how many people’s lives this new computer will impact. He’s angry at people who come up to him, trying to stop him from completing his mission. His expression shows that they’ll fail. He’s too determined to let his ambitions die.

The filming in this sequence is enclosed, personal. It uses tracking shots to follow Jobs as he paces back and forth, looking at TIME Magazines, drinking his sparkling water, his mind racing with everything that needs to get done. The reel itself has a texture to it that I couldn’t quite point out until it hit me: this sequence is shot on celluloid film, reminiscent of the decade that it’s reflecting. A great choice of stylistic direction from Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours), but just like the time period we’re in, we know that it won’t last long.

Jobs handles his personal issues. The technical issues are resolved. He steps out onto the stage and introduces the Apple Macintosh.

1988

The Macintosh underperformed in sales. Jobs is let go by Apple, the company that he helped start. He feels betrayed by his closest friends, alone in his struggle for significance.

He meets a few of his former colleagues who want to wish him well. Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) starts acting friendly to him, but then confronts him on not giving him enough credit on the launch of the Macintosh. He asks him what he does.

“I play the orchestra, and you’re a good musician,” Jobs says. “You sit right there and you’re the best in your row.”

The scene switches to another where Jobs is confronting a former confidant. The editing is off, choppy. It’s cross-cutting between this scene and a flashback so rapidly it’s hard to keep track of the two conversations. I don’t know what Boyle was trying to do here. Maybe he thought he was adding tension to the scene. I thought he was adding confusion.

Jobs visits his daughter in the next room, who is skipping class to come and see him. She’s in middle school. He tells her she needs to go to school before she rushes up to him and hugs his legs.

“I want to live with you, daddy,” she whispers to him.

She and her mother leave. Jobs is shaken. He steps out onto the stage.

1998

This is it: the launch that has come to define both Apple and Jobs for years to come. This is the most important act of the film, and the one I will talk less about for the sake of spoilers.

Jobs looks different. He looks older. His hair is whiter. He’s sporting the iconic glasses and turtleneck that most people recognize Jobs in. Fassbender is no longer just acting like Steve Jobs. He has become Steve Jobs.

The framing of shots is similar to the beginning. It tracks Jobs while he walks from one place to another. He’s more sure of himself in relationship to Apple, less sure of himself in relationship to his daughter. Boyle captures the panic on his face, the fear recognizing his failings as a person and as a father.

It’s nearing the end of the film, and I realize the thing that I love most about the movie is its screenplay. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin captures both the genius and fragility of Jobs, the sharpness in his words and the intimacy of his emotions. This is a good change of pace for Sorkin. From a filmography of lightning-quick, witty characters and dialogue from A Few Good Men to The Social Network, this is his most emotive work yet. It makes you feel more than it makes you think.

I exit the theater. I call my dad on my iPhone and tell him I love him. Steve Jobs too realizes that the greatest thing he ever made wasn’t an Apple product. It was his daughter.

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“ALL IS LOST” Review (✫)

All Is Lost? You have no idea. 

I’m about to save you twelve dollars and about two hours of your life. Robert Redford lives.

Frustrated? Good. You’re supposed to feel frustrated, because that’s all the movie makes you feel. Out of all of the survival movies you will ever see, expect All Is Lost to be a bare, boring, and mindlessly pointless experience.

Here is the premise of the movie: Robert Redford is on a boat, trying to survive against storms at sea.

That’s it. That’s as much depth and interest as you’re going to get with this film’s premise. Make no mistake fellow reader: All Is Lost is aggressively bad. It is the most boring film of the year. It is the most forgettable film of the year. If the Academy Awards had an award for Most Mundane Picture of The Year, All Is Lost wouldn’t only be the winner of the category, it would be the only film nominated.

And yet, strangely enough, the movie has been mostly well-received by critics. The movie has a 94 percent rating on Rottentomatoes and an 88 percent on Metacritic, so there will be no shortage of people trying to defend it. Here are the most popular arguments defending the movie:

“The film is great at latching your attention despite limited dialogue.”

It’s true that the first 20 minutes are exciting enough to do a good job at latching you’re attention. The other hour and a half, however, could not be more repetitive or frustrating. Only two lines of dialogue are spoken throughout the film: “This is Virginia Gene with an S.O.S. call, over?” and profanity. That’s it. The rest of the movie is Redford staring out into an empty ocean with a deep, dreary melody playing in the background. Oh boy! Music! That sure will keep us interested!

“J.C. Chandor was masterful as a writer/director.”

It’s hard to make an argument that he even wrote this. The screenplay was a little more than 31 pages, barely any material to substantiate a feature-length motion picture. Chandor, who is most known for the intelligent and conversational Margin Call in 2011, was great as a writer, making an intelligent, well-crafted picture filled with character depth, dialogue and dimension. Now, he has reverted to making All Is Lost. Why? What convinced him to step out of his comfort zone as a writer? With the clever, intelligent and enticing dialogue now missing from Margin Call, his sense of style is just as absent, and it gives the film an empty feeling that feels like it’s just half complete. It’s better, in fact, to describe the movie as a feature-length short film, meaning it’s a 30-minute television special stretched out to feature length simply to enhance profit.

“Robert Redford was incredible in the movie.”

Yes, I see Redford is in the movie. Thank you for pointing out the obvious. He is completely and utterly useless. Notice with the plot synopsis, I never called him by his character name. That is because his character doesn’t have a name, credited as “Our Man” on the international movie database. Redford is not acting here. He is modeling, staging and positioning himself in meager, idle positions and actions as Chandor commands him to flip from one side of the boat to another. The character is so impersonal, so thinly written and so emotionally bleak that there is little reason to care about him or be motivated by his journey. So thanks, Chandor, for casting Redford in a character nobody gives two rips about.

Compare this to any survival movie written and produced in the past 30 years. JawsCast Away127 HoursThe GreyGravity. Look at all of those movies and try to remember the emotions you felt while watching them. What is it about those movies that latched everyone’s attention? What captivated audiences and compelled them to care for these characters to survive?

That’s exactly it: Characters. We cared about Chief Brody when his son barely missed the shark’s jaws. We care about Chuck and Wilson because Chuck needs to get home to his girlfriend Kelly. We care about Aaron Ralston because of how estranged he was with his family, with John Ottoway when we realize his wife is dying, or with Doctor Stone when we realize what became of her daughter.

We care about these characters not because of their situations, but because of their inner turmoils that compelled them to keep living: They all had something to live for.

What reason does Robert Redford have to live for? We are told nothing except for that he’s “Our Man.” Riiiiiiight.

It’s movies like Jaws and Cast Away that keeps us away from the ocean, but it’s movies like All Is Lost that keeps us away from the movie theater. All Is Lost? You have no idea.

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