Problem Child

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Michael Fassbender shines as Steve Jobs, the eponymous hero/villain of a biopic written by word wizard Aaron Sorkin, directed by Danny Boyle. Spanning fifteen years, Steve Jobs is divided into three sections: 1984, before the launch of the Macintosh; 1988, before the launch of the NeXt Cube; 1998, before the launch of the iMac.  Each section brims with Sorkin’s rat-a-tat dialogue, as Jobs takes turns verbally sparring with his partner Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), a marketing ace (Kate Winslet), and the Apple CEO (Jeff Daniels). In the most impressive of these tête-à-têtes, flashbacks of a backstory are interspersed and edited so deftly that, momentarily, past and present are conflated in a phantasmagoria. Lines like “Don’t act dumb, you can’t pull it off” and “God sent his only son on a suicide mission, and we forgave Him because He gave us trees” are volleyed back and forth. The characterization of Steve Jobs is a pendulum, swinging from negative to positive. We glimpse an egotistical, somewhat paranoid, patronizing, Machiavellian Jobs as well as a charming, generous, attentive, even modest Jobs. For emotional resonance, the film lapses into a sentimental storyline about Jobs’s strained relationship with his daughter, Lisa, and her mother (Katherine Waterston). Some viewers will find it difficult to believe that before every launch Jobs was accosted by his estranged lover and/or his daughter, the ghosts of his past. Sorkin acknowledges this bit of contrivance with a line of dialogue that Jobs utters. Listen up, because, at the rate this movie moves, you might just miss it.

By Alec Julian & Carrie White 

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