On this episode of The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I discuss the notorious box-office bomb Steve Jobs, a big-budget prestige drama from a major studio that’s performing almost exactly the same as the 2013 indie drama Jobs (starring Ashton Freaking Kutcher).
Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening!
Steve Jobs was innovative, creative, driven, dogged and inestimably intelligent. But was he an interesting person?
Judging by Steve Jobs, a feature film meticulously scripted by Aaron Sorkin and studiously crafted by Danny Boyle, the answer is…maybe not? Kind of? It’s hard to tell what the filmmakers think, let alone what you’re supposed to after spending two hours with him. As enlivened with dazzling intensity by Michael Fassbender, the Jobs of this film vociferously berates his coworkers, belittles his female colleague and confidant Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) and rejects all notions of responsible parenting. Yet by the end, he is redeemed, or at least validated.
The movie doesn’t provide insight into how he gets there, nor does it transcend the limitations of its genre. The first two acts set up a fascinating story of a man overcoming professional setbacks without even the barest hint of interpersonal skills, but the third act doesn’t nail the dismount. What’s left is a cheap and lazily rendered stab at sentimentality that’s supposed to make you feel bad for a guy who spent the previous two-thirds of the movie alienating everyone around him – and you. Instead, you just feel bad for the people who will accept this cop-out as honest.
Oscar season spoils us. The major Hollywood studio pack the fall release schedule with thoughtful movies directed by skillful filmmakers and brimming with exceptional performances from Hollywood’s acting elite. 12 Years a Slave! Gravity! Nebraska! Her! American Hustle! Movies are so awesome.
Then awards season really kicks into gear, right around the time when everyone and their mother is reaching back into their memory banks to fill out their Top 10 lists summarizing the year in film. We’re reminded of all the great experiences we had at the movies even before fall began. Remember when we cried at the sight of Oscar Grant cowering in front of a policeman at the end of Fruitvale Station? Remember when Cate Blanchett tore into her role as an entitled woman stripped of her privilege in Blue Jasmine? Remember when Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley reminded us that teen romance isn’t all sweaty vampires and broody mopes in The Spectacular Now? Movies are so great.
And they are. But the reality of Hollywood’s long-standing business strategy makes it very difficult for us to maintain that belief in the first few months of every new year. With their Oscar hopes secured, the studios take out the trash, dumping their most impressively unambitious projects of the year into the trash receptacle known as January.