Film Review: Steve Jobs

STEVE JOBS

Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs is a compelling drama. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay provides excellent material for the director to work with.

In 1984, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is getting ready to unveil the Macintosh computer to the world. Behind the scenes of the launch, things are frantic with glitches in the demo, and the mother of Steve’s daughter demanding to talk to him…

Danny Boyle’s pseudo-biopic Steve Jobs is set behind the scenes at the launches of three products by the title character. Given this premise, the film should not be enthralling. However, Steve Jobs bucks this assumption thanks to some brilliant writing by Aaron Sorkin.

The film has a very simple set up, choosing three pivotal periods to tell the story of the protagonist’s life and career. Each segment takes place backstage at a product launch, in the time immediately before a public unveiling. There are also a handful of brief flashback sequences to fill in some of the backstory. It is disputable how much of this resembles real events. Nevertheless, the action that takes place is tense and dramatic.

The ticking clock device works really well in the first segment of Steve Jobs. The pressure of the situation is clear, yet Sorkin piles on a multitude of elements to tell the protagonist’s tale. The more personal aspects of Jobs’ life come through the interactions with his daughter Lisa and her mother Chrisann, as well as conversations with John Sculley. Career and work points are highlighted by Steve Wozniak and Andy Hertzfeld. Meanwhile, marketing executive Joanna Hoffman holds it all together, acting as supreme confidant in the film. Steve Jobs has been carefully crafted to not only take place at important junctures in Apple’s history, but to highlight the changing relationships Jobs has with the main characters.

Michael Fassbender delivers an assured performance as the title character. Michael Stuhlbarg stands out among the supported cast, whilst Kate Winslet is as solid as ever. Music is a great accompaniment, changing to reflect the different eras depicted in the film. The scoring for the first segment is particularly good.

Steve Jobs exhibits what a great screenwriter Sorkin is. The ending  may not please all, but overall the film is immensely engrossing.

Steve Jobs is closing the London Film Festival in October 2015.

London Film Festival 2015 Preview

The BFI London Film Festival 2015 commences this Wednesday, with a total of 238 fiction and documentary features being screened, including 16 World Premieres, 8 International Premieres, 40 European Premieres and 11 Archive films. The festival opens with the European premiere of Suffragette, starring Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan. Here are some of the films to catch at the London Film Festival 2015…

Trumbo

TRUMBO

Bryan Cranston plays Dalton Trumbo, the Hollywood screenwriter who was blacklisted after refusing to testify in the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947. A must-see for fans of films about the film industry, Trumbo is a biopic set in Hollywood’s Golden Age. The film also stars Diane Lane, Helen Mirren and Louis C.K.

The Witch

Taking place in a pre-Salem Witch Trials New England, The Witch is about a family who believe a supernatural force is at work. The Witch is the first feature directed by Robert Eggers, who won the Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival in January this year. The film is nominated for the Sutherland Award for first feature at the London Film Festival 2015.

Beasts of No Nation

BEASTS OF NO NATION

Netflix’s foray into film distribution comes in the form of the powerful Beasts of No Nation. The film is directed by Cary Fukunaga, based on his screenplay about a young boy who is forced to join a group of soldiers in Africa. Starring Idris Elba, the film received critical acclaim at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year.

Steve Jobs

The London Film Festival 2015 hosts the European premiere of Steve Jobs as its closing gala. Based behind the scenes at three product launches, the film has envious credentials. Directed by Danny Boyle and scripted by Aaron Sorkin, the film stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen.

The BFI London Film Festival 2015 takes place between 7th-18th October. For full listings and more information, see here.

Previews: Ant-Man Trailer, Irrational Man Trailer and More

Previews of forthcoming attractions this week include the latest Ant-Man trailer, Irrational Man, Steve Jobs

Ant-Man Trailer

Here is the latest Ant-Man trailer. The film looks like it will have a healthy dose of comedy, and given that the film is about an ant-sized superhero, this will be welcome. Starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, Ant-Man hits the big screen on 17th July 2015.

Irrational Man Trailer

Woody Allen’s latest film Irrational Man stars Joaquin Phoenix as a philosophy professor who  gets caught in a love triangle with two women. Emma Stone returns for her second performance in an Allen film whilst it is the first for Parker Posey and Joaquin Phoenix. Irrational Man opens in UK cinemas on 11th September 2015.

Steve Jobs Trailer

Here is the debut trailer for Steve Jobs. The film comes with quite a pedigree; it is directed by Danny Boyle, written by Aaron Sorkin, and stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen. Steve Jobs will be released in UK cinemas on 13th November 2015.

The Walk Poster

The Walk poster

The Walk is based on the true story of a man who walked between the two World Trade Centre towers in New York. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon and Ben Kingsley, and is directed by Robert Zebecks. The Walk hits the big screen on 2nd October 2015.

Creed

The Rocky franchise gets another instalment, albeit with a bit of a difference. Michael B. Jordan stars as the son of Apollo Creed, and sees Sylvester Stallone reprise his role as the boxing legend. Creed also reunites Jordan with his Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler. Creed is set for release on 27th November 2015.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl Trailer

The Diary of a Teenage Girl has already won praise at film festivals this year. The film is about a teenage girl growing up in San Francisco in the 1970s. Starring Bel Powley, Kirsten Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård, The Diary of a Teenage Girl will hit the big screen in the UK on 7th August 2015.

Masterminds

New comedy Masterminds tells the true story of a group of idiots who pulled off a $17 million heist. The film stars Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Own Wilson and Jason Sudeikis. Masterminds will hit UK screens on 7th August 2015.

 

 

Film Review: Moneyball

To some British folk, baseball is nothing more than a glorified game of rounders. Even to those of this mindset, Moneyball should prove to be an enjoyable movie.

Billy Beane is the general manager of Oakland Athletic. He struggles to compete with Oakland’s rivals, as there is little money to spend on new players. To gain an advantage, Billy must be creative. Meeting Peter Brand, Billy decides to use statistical data to analyse a player’s worth…

Moneyball works as a sports drama because it does not demand too much from its audience. The beauty of Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian’s screenplay is that it makes the concepts of the film understandable without feeling like it has been dumbed down. Even those with little knowledge or interest in baseball will be able to get into the film. Moreover, the data analysis aspect is depicted in enough detail for viewers to comprehend the strategy, without weighing the film down with unnecessary explanation. There could have been an issue with the amount of expository dialogue, but thankfully Sorkin and Zaillian handle this ably.

Director Bennett Miller paces the film rather well. Moneyball gets off to a bit of a slow start, but recovers well. At times, the film can be surprisingly gripping. Nevertheless, the film is not overly emotional. The film lacks the high drama so often pivotal to sports dramas. Audience are not required to make a strong emotional investment in Moneyball. Rather than this being wholly negative, it is actually refreshing to see a film of this kind not resort to theatrics in order to coerce the audience to feel something forced.

Part of the reason the film takes this attitude is undoubtedly down to the protagonist. Billy Beane is a character who appears quite normal, with few distinguishing features. The film focuses so much on his character, yet he is an ordinary guy, despite his ambitions. The supporting characters share his normality; there are no real outlandish types in Moneyball. The film retains a layer of authenticity throughout.

Brad Pitt offers a decent performance as Beane. There is nothing particularly powerful or memorable about his performance, however. Philip Seymour Hoffman is stronger as Art Howe, and Jonah Hill offers good support in his limited role. Kerris Dorsey is great as Beane’s daughter Casey, bringing life to their interactions.

Moneyball is slightly repetitive with its frequent driving sequences. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable rendition of real events that remains grounded.

Moneyball Trailer

Moneyball is out on 25th November 2011. The film stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Brad Pitt looks rather interesting in the trailer. The actor is 47 years old, and his face is beginning to show signs of aging. Yet his hair in Moneyball is suggestive of a boyband member from the mid-nineties. Anyway, Moneyball‘s script was co-written by Aaron Sorkin, which is promising.

Film Review: The Social Network

Even to the most ardent Facebook fan the premise of this film doesn’t sound enthralling; a movie about the founding of the social networking site. Don’t let this put you off, however, as The Social Network is a wholly entertaining and surprisingly funny film.

On the 2003 night that his girlfriend breaks up with him, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg begins to work an idea that will revolutionise online communication. As the success of his idea grows, however, so do the problems in both his personal and professional life…

Director David Fincher does an excellent job of generating such an interesting film out of what looks on paper to be a fairly simple chain of events. The Social Network concentrates on the human side of the story, developing characters that appear natural and multi-demensional. Nevertheless, the film does not shy away from presenting details of the court cases, as well as detailing the way in which Zuckerberg creates the site that will lead on to Facebook.

Rather than focussing solely on Zuckerberg, The Social Network gives sufficient attention to the various others involved with the creation of the site. This is an important factor as the film depicts real people and court cases, which occured very recently. Thus, the filmmakers offer a view of proceedings from the various people involved, rather than siding with a particular character’s account of events. The result is a film that tells an engaging story, but avoids placing blame or praise too much on any of the characters.

Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is excellent. The Social Network is peppered with wit throughout, particularly from Zuckerberg’s character. Mark Zuckerberg is a protagonist to both sympathise with and be irritated by, the film suggests. Sean Parker comes across as obnoxious but entertaining, whilst Eduardo Saverin is the most relatable of the bunch. It is hard not to empathise with Saverin as he experiences the company slipping away from him.

Jesse Eisenberg perfectly embodies the Zuckerberg character. Eisenberg masters the awkwardness of the character, whilst delivering his lines with precision. Andrew Garfield gives a solid performance as Saverin; in the later scenes particularly, his anguish appears genuine and affecting. Justin Timberlake is good as the brash Parker, though the performance doesn’t seem too much of a stretch from the entertainer’s natural personality.

The visuals have a polished quality to them. With the use of lighting and colour, the atmosphere of Harvard contrasts greatly with the California scenes. There is a darkness to The Social Network that adds a weight to the action. This is aided by the score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, which is notable without becoming overbearing.

In its account of true events, The Social Network offers a compelling story that does not lose sight of the humanity of its protagonists.