First Impressions of 'Steve Jobs' Film: 'Thrilling... an Action Movie Driven Almost Exclusively by Words'
The Danny Boyle-directed and Aaron Sorkin-penned Steve Jobs film premiered last night at the 42nd Annual Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, and the first impressions of the biopic are surfacing on the internet this morning. Although not a full review of the movie, Deadline has posted a short opinion piece about the film, noting impressive directing, well-paced editing, and a script by Sorkin that is "even more effective" than his Oscar-winning work on The Social Network.
It’s a companion piece to Sorkin’s Oscar-winning The Social Network screenplay — but even more effective. Boyle said the script is 200 pages and it is densely filled with the kind of dialogue only Sorkin seems to specialize in these days. It’s actually thrilling to listen to, an action movie driven almost exclusively by words, a rare thing for sure in today’s visually driven cinema.
[Boyle's] direction is flawless and really keeps this thing moving, avoiding the static pace it might have been in lesser hands. The result is well worth it, and those magical words provided lots of opportunity for great acting performances led by Michael Fassbender’s spot-on and relentless portrayal of the not-very-likable computer genius.
Notably, Deadline also caught up with Steve Wozniak at Telluride to get his opinion on the film, which partially portrays Wozniak's own life as well with Seth Rogen in the role of the Apple co-founder. Wozniak was enthusiastic about the movie, calling it "authentic" and particularly praising Kate Winslet's performance as Macintosh marketing chief Joanna Hoffman.
When I caught up with him Wozniak told me that, unlike the Jobs biopic with Ashton Kutcher, this one is totally authentic. “I saw a rough cut and I felt like I was actually watching Steve Jobs and the others (including Rogen’s dead-on portrayal of Wozniak), not actors playing them, I give full credit to Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin for getting it so right,” he enthusiastically told me, He adding that of all the actors in the film he thinks Winslet might be the most likely to garner awards attention.
The movie was portrayed as a "work in progress" to the attendees at Telluride, due to the fact that Boyle and his workers are still tweaking and editing parts of the movie. With just about a month to go until the film's wide release, it's likely small details like sound cues and other small edits that will make the Telluride screening largely similar to the final movie.
Other sites have begun posting full-length reviews, including Variety, who compares Sorkin's three-act, multiple time period structure to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Also of note is a neat detail that Boyle shot each time period on era-relevant formats, a fact along with Boyle's uncharacteristically restrained direction that Variety particularly liked.
Working with d.p. Alwin Kutchler, Boyle sometimes sends the camera hurtling after the characters in lengthy, down-the-corridor tracking shots; elsewhere, the brief transitional snippets between acts feature some fairly aggressive stylization, in line with his usual m.o. But for the most part, this is the filmmaker’s most reined-in picture in some time, as if a too-kinetic approach would interfere with the verbal energy of Sorkin’s script.
Besides Guy Hendrix Dyas’ unobtrusively excellent production design, the picture’s major visual coup is the decision to shoot the three acts on three different formats: grainy 16mm film for 1984, lustrous 35mm for 1988, and sleek, high-definition digital for 1998. The distinctions may well be lost on the vast majority of viewers, but it’s just the sort of nicely understated aesthetic flourish that Steve Jobs himself would have surely appreciated.
Indiewire gave the film a B+, pointing out good performances from the cast and the movie's decision to focus on three highly stressful points in Jobs' life to showcase his true personality, ultimately calling it "a kind of "Birdman" for the tech sector," thanks to its real-time accounts of some highly dramatic backstage moments prior to a big show. The website also noted, however, that Sorkin's dialogue can suffer from "constant overstatement" and some foreshadowing to Apple's future feels "unnecessary."
The movie currently sits at a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, but still has just five reviews collected at the time of writing. Although it's still just a handful positive opinions, it's a bit more encouraging as we enter the final stretch before the October 9 theatrical debut, especially for a film that's been a large source of speculation and rumors for so many years now.
Update: Oscar buzz is also surrounding the film coming out of Telluride, with Michael Fassbender's performance getting thrown into the Best Actor category along with other frontrunners like Johnny Depp in Black Mass and Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl.