Doing It With Style: A Few Notes on STEVE JOBS (Boyle, 2015)

Director Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs (2015) has many delights. Let’s count them: a certain theatricality that comes from the limited settings, crystal clear structure, and nuanced, but starkly modulating performances; art-film “lite” thematic plotting, with each act a variation on the same theme (conflict and revelation behind the scenes before a product launch); symbolically rich flash frames in the last act; a noticeable tactility to the images during the first, in the form speckled particles, a kind of a visual throwback to the 80s (the entire film was shot on 35mm); loads of cross-axis cutting during conversation scenes; countless walk-and-talk shots as the preparation for a product launch amped up; and peculiar (forgive the reference) He-Man and the Masters of the Universe/Filmation-style extreme closeups at the frame’s edges, capturing Fassbender’s face while in profile on the far right or frontally, bisected on the far left side (all this in a 2.35:1 frame).

The film dragged a bit during the last act, when screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s garrulous writing for the Winslet character’s ultimatum to Jobs ground things to a halt, and lost some of its thematic force when the exploration of Jobs’s disturbing self-obsession, quasi-manical idiosyncrasy and anality as he crafted his (still mysterious to me) personality cult in the first act is replaced with a banal, humanizing melodrama in the last one.

Still, well worth a look.

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