Film, Reviews

FILM REVIEW: STEVE JOBS

Dir: Danny Boyle

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen, Kate Winslet

Cert: 15

“How come ten times in a day I hear Steve Jobs is a genius? What do you do?”

20-fall-preview-movies-steve-jobs-michael-stuhlbarg-michael-fassbender-kate-winslet.w750.h560.2xSteve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) poses this question to the titular Jobs (Michael Fassbender) in the trailer of Danny Boyle’s latest film, written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), making it immediately clear that this is not going to be anything like the celebratory Apple advertisement it could have been.

What Boyle and Sorkin have done is provide a deep character study of Jobs – who died in 2011 – without mentioning Pixar, cancer,the iPhone or his widow Laurene Powell. Sorkin has stated that the avoidance of the typical ‘greatest hits’ biopic structure was a conscious decision, and a good one it was too. The film instead takes on more of a theatrical structure, essentially consisting of three real-time acts with a few brief deviations, all taking place in the run up to a notable product launch. It is this that makes Steve Jobs stand out from the wealth of other material that has been produced on the Apple co-founder, particularly the 2013 film Jobs, which starred Ashton Kutcher in the central role. The structure also allows you to immediately do away with the notion of the film as a biopic and thus at the same time stepping away from all the normal expectations that would come with watching a biopic, one of which is the ‘facts’. I personally feel this is a film that should be taken very much as artistic interpretation, based of course on fact but not to be taken as concrete fact in itself.

steve_jobsThe film is an intense character study – it’s Fassbender’s film through and through, and whilst he doesn’t look particularly like Jobs, but also isn’t unlike him enough to be distracting – and there is no doubt that Jobs was an interesting character. The film explores many interesting themes through the character, notably ambition. The film is incredibly brave in tackling the mythological status that has descended upon Jobs, especially following his death. Jobs is shown to be stubborn, difficult and at times incredibly harsh. He is also shown to be relentless in his drive and ambition for success, and it is the different aspects of Jobs’ character as presented in the film that makes it so much more interesting than any biopic could ever be.

Whilst Jobs is without a doubt the main character, the supporting cast also do a stellar job. Kate Winslet is strong, in spite of a wobbly European accent, as marketing executive and Jobs’ longtime friend Joanna Hoffman. Jeff Daniels as Apple CEO John Scully is also worthy of mention – the dynamic between him and Fassbender provides one of the most electric portions of the film. One of the highlights however comes in the form of Rogen’s Wozniak, who acts as the voice of reason or moral compass in a sense, highlighting some of the main themes in his dialogue.

Screen-Shot-2015-07-01-at-11.45.08-AMThere is no doubt that the film is going to draw endless comparisons to The Social Network, but whilst both films are interesting studies of the men behind tech phenomenons, there aren’t many comparisons to be held. Whilst David Fincher’s film is a relatively dark study, Steve Jobs has an abundance of energy. Boyle puts his stamp all over this film, which is visually impressive in a way that has come to be an expectation of the director, who’s unique style has been showcased in every film since his debut Shallow Grave (1994). The grand venues for  each launch provide a perfect setting for these distinct visuals, and they do not disappoint.

Another staple of Boyle’s films has always been music, and this is another strong entry in that area. The pulsing beats are essential in creating and maintaining the mood of the film, and it also effectively communicates the time periods – 1984, 1988 and 1998 without sounding overtly ‘retro’.

Steve Jobs hasn’t performed particularly well in the US Box Office, though this may be because after Jobs (2013) proving relatively disastrous people feel like they have seen it all when it comes to the man. Yet here is a film with a wealth of talent behind it, that offers something entirely new. It’s not a biopic – its much more than that, and its strong critical reception has kept it well and truly in the awards race.

Steve Jobs is out in cinemas across the UK now.

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Film, Reviews

FILM REVIEW: KILL YOUR FRIENDS

Cert: 18

Directed: Owen Harris

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, James Corden, Georgia King

kill-your-friends-tp1-600x886I won’t lie, I’ve been excited for Kill Your Friends for a while now. When I first saw the trailer (which you can watch for yourself below) I was hooked, it looked like it was going to tick all my boxes – great soundtrack, great cast and it looked like it had cult written all over it. Based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Scottish author John Niven, the film is a jet black satire of the British film industry in the late 1990’s, when Britpop and the Spice Girls dominated the charts.

Our anti-hero (debatable) leading us through proceedings is Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult), a 27 year old A&R man hellbent on success but not overly interested in music. Many critics have noted the likeliness to both American Psycho (2000) and Filth (2013), two films also based on excellent and extreme novels. This could be a reflection more on the source material than the film, but there is no doubt that Hoult’s Stelfox screams Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman with his suave appearance, and damaged Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) with his relentless ambition. However, it seems more as though Stelfox thinks of himself as a yuppie type, but his deluded sense of grandeur does not carry through – really he is no better than the inebriated characters he is surrounded by and sees himself as superior to.

James Corden is on excellent form as a hapless A&R goon, whilst Georgia King is surprisingly creepy as secretary Rebecca. They are by far the most interesting of the secondary characters, with the rest providing one not laughs but nothing of any substance.

The soundtrack is suitably excellent for the late 90’s setting, but the cinematography is lacking any excitement. Director Owen Harris has few cinematic credits and the majority of his directorial work appears to have been on TV shows such as Misfits and Secret Diary of A Call Girl, and this shines through on the shoddy production value.

That doesn’t stop the fun however, of which there is plenty, albeit in jet black form. The script is based on one produced by Niven himself, and so it is again perhaps due to the source material that the dialogue isn’t as quick or as memorable as something from an Irvine Welsh adaption. It also sometimes feels as though it is trying to shock for the sake of it, rather than lending itself to any kind of social commentary. That’s not to say there aren’t laughs throughout – and the talking to the camera/inner monologue made most memorable in recent times by The Wolf of Wall Street acts as an effective narrative device to let the viewer into the folds of Stelfox’s psyche.

Ultimately Kill Your Friends is a worth a watch, but pales next to the better movies of which it seems to lend from so heavily. You’ll enjoy it in the cinema, but on reflection it’ll come out feeling slightly empty, and there’s a good chance it’ll be forgotten within a year.

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