Sunday 22 November 2015

Steve Jobs by Aaron Sorkin

I was going to write about the new Bond film this week, or maybe another Hugo Bishop novel, but I've prioritised the superb new film Steve Jobs, written by Aaron Sorkin — because, perplexingly, it seems to have been received with little enthusiasm, and may vanish from our cinemas soon.

So please consider this a call to action — and rush out and see this extraordinary and splendid movie on the big screen while you still can.

It's obvious from the first seconds that Steve Jobs is an intelligent and surprising entertainment. It begins with black and white footage of Arthur C. Clarke making extraordinarily accurate predictions about how computers will change our lives.

We are then tumbled into the world of Steve Jobs, with the wonderful trademark dialogue of Aaron Sorkin (creator of The West Wing and writer of The Social Network; one of our great screenwriters).

Sorkin has structured his script brilliantly, around three crucial product launches. And if you think that sounds dull, trust me it's anything but. The struggle to get the prototype MacIntosh to say hello in time for the press conference will have your heart in your throat — it's a masterpiece of suspense.

Besides providing a powerful and vivid portrait of Steve Jobs as a cultural force, the film also gives a memorable depiction of his turbulent personal life — his conflict with friends, and his ex-lover, and the daughter whom he initially disavows, and then comes to love.

Michael Fassbender is terrific as Jobs. And he looks eerily like a younger and more muscular Bradley Whitford (a star of The West Wing and a regular in Aaron Sorkin's repertory company). Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) does fine work, using what looks like period colour film stock to evoke the 1980s. He is perhaps a little too flashy in his visuals at times (did we really need the space footage?). But on the other hand, that amazing Arthur C. Clarke clip might have been his idea.

There's a couple of flaws in the script, where it slips up on period detail — no one would have made a joke about being a "Steve Whisperer" in 1984, because the novel The Horse Whisperer wasn't published until 1995 — and I'm still scratching my head over the supposed revelation about the Time magazine cover.

But make no mistake, Aaron Sorkin is a writer of genius and Steve Jobs is a magnificent film. Gripping, moving, revelatory and hilarious.

(Image credits: Only two posters available from Imp Awards, and that's always a bad sign in terms of a movie's commercial prospects. The black and white photo of Aaron Sorkin is from an interview in The Independent.)


  1. I can't understand why this hasn't been the huge success it really ought to be. You only need look at the credentials; one of the greatest screenwriters around, one of the greatest directors around and one of the hottest stars around...why hasn't it smashed it? I can't help but think that there's a growing anti-Sorkin sentiment in critics circles since The Newsroom, which I utterly adored and found it to be fine, witty and compelling idealistic drama, but which regularly took a pasting from the press

  2. I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw it was still at my local cinema (maybe Soutwest London appreciates Sorkin!). I shall see it at least one more time, hopefully two. Thanks for reading.