Steve Jobs

October 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen
Directed by: Danny Boyle (“127 Hours”)
Written by: Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”)

Never mind that Oscar-nominated actor Michael Fassbender (“12 Years a Slave”) looks nothing like the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. We all know from the uninspired 2013 biopic “Jobs,” which starred Ashton Kutcher in the title role, how making that the priority can end up not having much of an effect on the final product, especially when the script is about as interesting as binary code. Fortunately, in the latest Steve Jobs biography, aptly titled “Steve Jobs,” the screenplay and Fassbender are the stars of the show and give the iconic computer genius a film worthy of his contribution to the tech industry.

Based on the book by of the same name by Walter Isaacson, Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”), delivers the type of fast-paced, sharp Sorkinesque dialogue he’s been known for throughout his career. Like his character Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” Sorkin has another larger-than-life leading man to express his biting quips and sarcasm as well as some heartfelt emotion into Fassbender’s Jobs. Sorkin also sets Jobs’ story in a unique way very few writers would dare to attempt when tackling the life of a man most would need a miniseries to capture truthfully.

In “Steve Jobs,” Sorkin takes audiences into Jobs’ life during three prominent milestones of his career – the 1984 launch of the Macintosh, the 1988 launch of the NeXT computer, and the 1998 launch of the iMac. Each of these “backstage” vignettes transports moviegoers into the inner workings of the high-profile launches and examines how Jobs handled the pressure of each event. We also get an incredible glimpse at Jobs’ interaction with Apple coworkers, most notably his longtime assistant Joanna (a wonderful Kate Winslet), who is the most consistent figure in his life, and his role as a reluctant father to his young estranged daughter he refuses to recognize.

Sorkin paints a thought-provoking picture of Jobs. Much of it is not a flattering one for his personality, but it does sing his praises as someone who is able to take control of any situation and be the conductor of his own symphony, as Sorkin so skillfully writes. While Danny Boyle does a satisfactory job at staging these events, nothing screams out that this is a Boyle film. Still, with Fassbender leading the way in this dialogue-heavy drama, “Steve Jobs” says a lot more than the average cradle-to-the-grave story. It might be Fassbender’s symphony, but Sorkin’s the maestro of the entire suite.

Moneyball

September 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by: Bennett Miller (“Capote”)
Written by: Steven Zaillian (“Schindler’s List”) and Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”)

In a world of competitive sports where a power lifter can basically bench press a bulldozer by sticking a syringe his ass cheek, it’s getting harder to believe any athlete is performing on an even playing field nowadays. Even without the roids, there’s always a company out there manufacturing high tops that add six inches to a basketball player’s vertical leap or polyurethane bodysuits that give swimmers increased speed and make Michael Phelps whine. Whatever the case, having an unfair advantage seems to be America’s new favorite pastime.

When it comes to comparing championship teams with teams whose fans wear paper bags over their heads, however, it’s not all about whether 450-ft. homeruns are crushed off the bats of juicers. Sometimes it helps to have a few dollars stored away in the dugout. The idea that a team’s financial status can affect whether they succeed in their sport is examined in “Moneyball,” an exceptionally entertaining look at the true story behind Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and the unconventional route he takes in 2002 to transform his scrappy, penniless team into a competitive ball club. Call it “Bigger, Stronger, Faster, Richer.”

Based on the 2003 book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis, the film follows Billy and his brainiac new assistant GM Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) as they work to keep up with the intimidating payrolls of powerhouse teams like the New York Yankees by signing ball players considered undervalued by rarely-recognized analytical statistics.

If “Moneyball” sounds like a baseball movie for nerds, it is. There are no bottom of the 9th, bases loaded clichés and sports heroics. Instead, Academy Award-winning screenwriters Steven Zaillian (“Schindler’s List”) and Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”) dissect the game into an intriguing underdog story about one man’s belief in changing a good ol’ boy system he feels is outdated. Aficionados of the sport should admire the clubhouse access they get, especially during scenes where Billy builds his team as skillfully as a mathematician solving a proof. Pitt proves his big-league worth in this winning combination of thrilling drama and cynical dialogue.

Directed by Bennett Miller, whose previous film “Capote” won Philip Seymour Hoffman an Oscar (he plays grumpy A’s manager Art Howe in this one), “Moneyball” is one of the best baseball movies ever made that’s actually not about baseball at all. With the way the game is played today, it’s nice to get something that feels so natural.

The Social Network

October 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jesse Einsberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake
Directed by: David Fincher (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”)
Written by: Aaron Sorkin (“Charlie Wilson’s War”)

Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Einsberg) is the smartest guy in the room. If you weren’t aware, don’t worry. He would’ve let you known sooner or later.
 
So is the personality of the genius Facebook founder as it is portrayed in director David Fincher’s internet epic “The Social Network,” an incisively-written and impressively-controlled biopic where fascinating legal drama meets new media ambition. Adapted by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (“Charlie Wilson’s War”) from the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich, “The Social Network” is an occasionally one-sided yet nearly-perfect narrative centered on the most prevalent online phenomenon of the past decade.

With a story this substantial, there was bound to be a villain – or at least an anti-hero – somewhere in the mix. “The Social Network” doesn’t waste time in introducing audiences to Mark. Einsberg plays him as arrogant and aloof as any character in recent memory. It doesn’t necessarily push the actor’s range compared to some of his past films, but from this bigger-than-life persona Einsberg exudes a scary confidence and insensitivity that draws us as close to him as it pushes others away.
 
From the opening scene, Mark has our attention as he sits across from his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) in a Harvard pub and manages to say just about every wrong thing imaginable. The difference between Mark and a guy that simply puts his foot in his mouth (as all guys do) is that Mark is well aware of his offensive nature but wants to see where the breaking point lies.
 
“This is exhausting,” Erica tells Mark as he rambles on about how getting into a Finals Club (a sort of glorified fraternity at Harvard) will lead to a better life. “Dating you is like dating Stairmaster.”
 
Mark’s ability to destroy friendships is what layers his character so well. His defense mechanisms are what keep him from truly finding a connection with friends. In “The Social Network,” Mark is able to demonstrate how he uses his intelligence to prove his worth. He starts by ransacking the campus blogosphere before proceeding to steal what would later become Facebook, a multi-billion-dollar media corporation.
 
Standing beside Mark to help build his empire is best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), who provided the start-up cash to fund Facebook in its early stages and attempted to monetize the website. In the film, Eduardo, who is the main source for “The Accidental Billionaires,” is suing Mark for $600 million. Garfield’s depiction of a loyal friend is heartfelt until it becomes heartbreaking. As Napster founder Sean Parker, singer/actor Justin Timberlake plays to his strengths and embodies Parker as a smart and wily entrepreneur looking for the next big money-making idea.
 
“The Social Network” isn’t so much a movie about Facebook as it’s a story of greed, envy, and the ruthless means one young man would take to rise to power no matter who he crushes along the way. It’s “There Will Be Blood” for the tech generation.

Through wonderfully-constructed scenes, director Fincher and screenwriter Sorkin have created an exhilarating drama that achieves the finest that filmmaking has to offer today. “The Social Network” is a relentless character study and just might be the best film of the year.