There’s a buzz about the packed theater in New York’s Union Square. It feels like an event with a capital E and it’s filling up quick. An elderly couple searches for a pair of empty seats. Only singles left. A curly-headed woman scoots down to make room. It’s a friendly crowd. I tuck my backpack under the aisle seat I was able to retain by getting there twenty minutes before show time. I’ve lived in New York for nearly a year; long enough to know you should never underestimate the late Friday matinee rush in Manhattan.
Looking around, I realize I’ve rarely seen a movie with such an eclectic bunch of people there on opening night. You could ask what it is that brought all of us out to the theater tonight, but a better question would be who…
I don’t think it’s at all hyperbolic to say that no single person in the history of the world has had a greater effect on more peoples’ everyday lives than the eponymous hero of the film we’re about to watch, Steve Jobs.
The lights dim.
The best way I can describe what follows is by likening it to the feeling a sports fan gets when watching his or her favorite team duke it out with their rival in sudden death overtime for two straight hours.
The film takes place over the course of three historic product launches beginning in 1984 with the Macintosh and ending in 1998 with the iMac. The brilliance of Steve Jobs is that it’s able to capture the essence of the man chronicled in Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of the same name in what are essentially three drawn-out scenes.
In many cases directors are seen as the sole authors of their films. Perhaps no writer has as much right to co-authorship of the films he’s written as Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), who, with this film, has helped create another fascinating portrayal of a titan in the tech industry.
Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) challenges the audience to keep up by compressing Sorkin’s 178-page script into two of the tightest hours you’ll likely ever see onscreen. At the end of several heated scenes I had to remind myself to take a breath.
Assisting them in their efforts is a phenomenal cast that features Oscar-caliber performances from the titular lead, Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Kate Winslet (Joanna Hoffman), and Jeff Daniels (John Sculley). Seth Rogen is a revelation in his most dramatic work yet as the Ringo to Jobs’ Lennon, Steve Wozniak. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Michael Stuhlbarg, who plays computer scientist and Jobs’ punching bag Andy Hertzfeld with such nuance that we can not only feel, but relate to his fear, anger, and respect for a man who’s simultaneously given his life purpose while oftentimes making it a living hell.
Steve Jobs is currently playing in New York and Los Angeles and expands wide on October 23rd.
Check out the trailer here…