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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jobs

Lets just round off last week with a quick look at Jobs.

Despite the plethora of one-star reviews and largely apathetic audience reaction, Jobs really isn't that bad. It isn't much good, but it isn't that bad either.

As you may have guessed by now, Jobs sort of tells the story of Steve Jobs, the legendary co-founder of Apple. I say sort of because the film can't quite seem to decide whether it wants to tell the story of Steve Jobs or about the company he started. The film, in fact, probably hues closer to being Apple: The Movie, rather than a true look at this brilliant but endlessly controversial cultural figure, but even then it still feels somewhat superficial.

As for Jobs himself, we spend a bit of time with him in his young days in college, but the film spends little time before getting to tell the story of Apple - how it was started in a basement by one guy with a lot of vision and a bunch of his frankly more talented friends, how Apple basically invented the home computer, how Jobs' perfectionism almost bankrupted the company, how Jobs was forced out of the company he created and finally his triumphant return well over a decade later.

It's not an uninteresting story but it's told with little of the electric writing or directorial style that made the rather similar Social Network into such a riveting piece of drama. With even that said though, even if it had brought Apple's story to life with a bit more verve, it still would have had to deal with the crippling absence of its lead character in the centre of everything.


Steve Jobs was clearly an interesting guy and, while the film gives us a cliffnote summary of the guy - brilliant visionary, ruthless businessman, perfectionist to a fault, total dick as a person - but there's nothing here that anyone even remotely familiar with Jobs (and really, who isn't at least passingly familiar with him?) doesn't already know. Considering that the film is named after him, it's a fatal flaw that it seems so uninterested in truly getting to know him. Hell, it doesn't even bother to tell his whole story as the film ends with a frustrating ellipsis, rather than a proper conclusion.

As many have pointed out, Ashton Kutcher isn't particularly great in the role as he doesn't have the acting chops to truly embody his character, but he is clearly trying hard and, if you take what he's doing as an impression rather than a performance, he is actually rather good. More importantly, no matter how good an actor they may have gotten in his place, the film's weird disinterest in getting to the bottom of Steve Jobs means that the performance was always doomed to feel undercooked.

As I said though, it's not a terrible movie as it does move along at a nice pace, tells a largely interesting story and is ultimately solidly entertaining, if not particularly enlightening. It just could have been so much more.


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