“Steve Jobs” movie review

SteveJobsA mesmerizing and controversial bio-pic. This seems to be the year for the biographical motion picture. Universal Pictures and Legendary’s Steve Jobs takes you on a journey through the most signifiant product launches of the late co-founder of Apple’s career. Despite the fact that Jobs is revered as a genius and one of the most influential men in American history, this movie does not shy away from painting an accurate portrait of his personal and professional life. Although he is loved and admired by so many people, his character is one that you will most likely dislike through most of the narrative. From open to close, you will be glued to your seat in awe and surprise. This is definitely one of the most intriguing and intense bio-pics I have seen in a long time. Throughout the narrative, there is a constant theme of control and design. Complete with a brilliant cast and impeccable writing, this is definitely one to watch out for at the next Academy Awards.

Steve Jobs is about the early career of the co-founder of Apple. You will go on a journey through the most important product launch successes and failures of Jobs’ (Fassbender) career. From being fired from the very company that he co-founded to the love-hate relationship he has with his daughter and the hatred for her mother, you will learn what prompted Jobs to make the decisions he did and how each decision affected his relationships with friends and colleagues. Discover why “end to end control” was so important to the designs of the MacIntosh and Apple computers.

Michael Fassbender truly shines as the genius behind Apple’s phoenix-like return from the ashes of its darkest days. Not only does he resemble Jobs in appearance, but he also captures the very essence of what made Jobs tick and why he became the success he was professionally. Fassbender also delivers powerful performances in his altercations with colleagues and his presumed family. The intenseness of his conflicts and triumphs transcends the screen and compels your attention through the entire film. Often in movies, you either want to love or love to hate the protagonist; and that element rings very true in this film. For nearly the entire movie, I hated Steve Jobs. Funny, because I use all Apple products. But, during the end of the third act, I made a radical shift and saw the glimmer of hope that has caused millions of Apple fans to adore him so much during the latter years of his career. More than anyone else, he believed in his designs and methods of product launches. Only his director of marketing Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) seemed to be the one he confided in most or could control the man who was insistent on “end to end control” throughout his dynamic career. Winslet also delivers a commanding performance as Hoffman who stuck by Jobs from product to product, advising him when he wouldn’t hear of anyone else’s opinions. She is the single person who held helped the public not to despise him as much as most everyone else did behind the scenes.

So often I find that bio-pics can tend to romanticize the protagonist by glossing over the more negative events of his or her life. Not so with Steve Jobs. The remarkable element of the writing is the commitment to reality and just laying all the positive and negative events and encounters out there for the audience. Highlighting the more negative events is extremely important to this film because that is where the very dynamic character arc comes from. If you loved or hated Jobs the entire time, it would not be nearly as impactful. But because you will likely hate him for most of the movie until the end and then quickly turn a 180, that is where the magic of this movie lies. There are times that you think that he will budge from his stances on design teams and products, but then he is just as stubborn or relentless as he is throughout the story. Oddly enough, his penchant for complete control is what tanks and then resurrects the tech company. The story is gripping and whether you are an Apple product fan or not, this movie is an excellent example of how a completely candid bio-pic can still prompt the adoration of the public despite the dark elements and poor decisions in relationships with friends and lovers.

If you are an Apple product fan, this is definitely a film to catch because it takes you behind the sleek product displays and technology launches. Learning about Steve Jobs the man actually gives a new-found appreciation for the company he helped start, got fired from, and rehired again. The amazing cast and brilliant writing enables this film to be admired for its commitment to the art of biographical motion pictures.

“Bridge of Spies” movie review

BridgeofSpiesA spy movie with very little in the way of intrigue and espionage. Touchstone, DreamWorks, and 20th Century Fox’s Bridge of Spies is a very traditional biographical film. There is nothing innately wrong with it, but there lacks anything truly remarkable or memorable either. Tom Hanks plays a very Tom Hanks character and Spielberg provides us with a very classy historic movie. Perhaps it is all just as well because the Cold War was a war of information and not high powered action. And, that is pretty well what you get in this movie. The most thrilling scenes are ones that are already in the trailer. Even James Donovan’s (Hanks) testimony before the U.S. Supreme Court was anti-climactic. Despite the fact it is based on a true story, for cinematic purposes there should have been more emotionally trying scenes or surprise. We seldom get Cold War era movies, so this is a nice addition to historic/bio pictures. Although the descriptive “thriller” has been attached to this movie, I do not find sufficient evidence in the movie to support such a claim. It is a moderate drama–neither heavy nor lite. Perhaps if John Grisham had written a book on this event and that book adapted for the screen, the film would play off more accurately as a spy thriller. As it stands, it is a historic drama. Nothing more, nothing less.

Bridge of Spies is about a Cold War era spy swap in the late 1950s in East Berlin. Suspected Soviet spy Rudolph Abel (Mark Rylance) is apprehended by the FBI in New York and placed under the counsel of successful insurance attorney James Donovan (Hanks). In an effort to show due process, even to suspected spies, the U.S. government provides Abel with a trial by his peers. Following a conviction, Hanks persuades the sentencing judge to allow Abel to live in the event they need him as leverage to trade for captured suspected American spies in Soviet Europe and Russia. Quite the brilliant move because an Air Force pilot and graduate student were both captured by the Soviets shortly after the apprehension of Abel. Follow Donovan as he makes his way to one of the most dangerous parts of Europe during the height of the Cold War in an effort to successfully negotiate a spy swap.

There really isn’t much to add besides what I have already mentioned in my opening. This movie is very par for the course. Hanks and Spielberg provide us with the quality that we are accustomed to receiving from them. I was never bored during the movie, but I was never on the edge of my seat either. Typically, I look to espionage movies for some sense of surprise or intrigue; but, this one plays it like a typical drama based on a true story. As this is not a story or event that many Americans likely know about, it provides insight into what many of the operations during the Cold War may have been like. I do feel that the dialog and character development were lacking. Hanks and the rest of the cast pretty much remain static through the whole movie. Often in movies based on true stories, I like to see dynamic character arcs or redemptions. What I find in this movie is a realistic depiction of this event that likely felt more intense at the time than what is shown of the screen. Perhaps that is it. Maybe, I would have liked the movie a lot more had there has been a pronounced thrilling nature or contained emotionally intense scenes.

If you are looking for a thrilling movie of government espionage, then this is not it. If you are looking for a well-produced biographical movie based on a true story, then this is it. I am certain that Tom Hanks plays the role of Donovan accurately and I commend him for bringing this real-life American hero alive for the screen. At the end of the day, this is a good example of an accurate biographic motion picture and Spielberg proves that he can deliver a classy true story as well as he can an action-adventure movie.