Steve Jobs (2015) Review

Steve Jobs (2015)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

Based on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.

My Opinion:

My husband dragged me to this movie. Are any fun movies going to come out at any point? I hate this time of year! They always drag out all the “worthy” films at this sort of time. I need braindead veg-out movies for the crazy holiday season. Like… Road House! I wrapped some presents last night while watching Road House for the first time. Holy shit that movie is f*%king hilarious. Why did no one tell me how awesomely bad that movie was?! I think it may be my new yearly Christmas-present-wrapping movie. Anyway, Steve Jobs was better than I was expecting for a “biography” film about an unlikeable guy & technology gobbledygook.

This movie was a hard one to get into at first but, by the end, I really liked how they chose the run-up to three big product launches to tell his story. To my satisfaction, any gobbledygook technology talk was kept to a very bare minimum. The movie really doesn’t show you anything of the beginnings of his career, though (or the final years & his biggest products).

If you want a very detailed & in-depth look at the career of Steve Jobs, I wouldn’t say that this movie is the place to start as it only highlights part of his career. I have no problem with this, though – you can read books about all that. This movie focuses much more on his personal life and his behavior toward work colleagues and, especially, his relationship with his daughter. I find this sort of thing much more interesting and was happy that the movie chose this direction and that it had some great performances from everyone involved.

I’ll state the obvious & say that Michael Fassbender looks nothing whatsoever like Steve Jobs. Not that I’m going to complain about getting to look at hottie Fassbender but it was a little distracting & I can’t say that I at all felt like I was watching “Steve Jobs” up on that screen. Maybe it didn’t help that I knew nothing whatsoever about Steve Jobs (and still don’t, I suppose – but I can say that this movie definitely doesn’t try to make you like him). Fassbender did a very good job as always, though – I guess it’s not his fault that he’s just too hot.

The true highlights of this film were Kate Winslet and, surprisingly, Seth Rogen. Oh yeah – and Jeff Daniels was very good too! Nice seeing him again as I can’t think of the last thing I saw him in. Speed?? Which makes me think of Keanu Reeves. Which makes me think of Patrick Swayze in Point Break. Which makes me think of Road House again. Seriously – if any of you haven’t seen Road House, you NEED to. Sam Elliott is such a stud. Anyway, Winslet, Rogen & Daniels are all truly fantastic in Steve Jobs so I certainly can’t fault any of the performances. There’s some damn fine acting in this. Unlike in Road House…. Good lord!

Summary:

Steve Jobs is a very good film but it’s not for everyone. It’s one you should watch if you are a fan of any of the actors as they’re all at the top of their game here. Just be aware that it focuses only on the relationships that Jobs had with the most key people in his life and that you see only a pretty small portion of his years on this Earth.

The direction that the film chose, to have everything revolve around three product launches, may not work for everyone but I thought it was a simple yet very effective way of telling his story. His life DID revolve around his work (so far as I can tell from what very little I know of him) so I think it was a very fitting way to tell his story. The people in his life had to fit around his primary focus, which was his career and his products. I should also point out that this movie very much felt like a play, which some will love & some will hate. I have to say that I liked this film more than Sorkin’s The Social Network and it’s the best thing Danny Boyle has done in a while.

Steve Jobs admittedly deserves a slightly higher rating than I’m giving it but I have to admit that, while it’s good, it’s very unlikely that I’d ever watch it again. Unlike Road House! That’s a multiple-watcher!

My Rating: 7/10

Review written on my iPhone

Advertisements

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

IMG_0884

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Kelechi of Confessions From A Geek Mind. Thanks for the review, Kelechi! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, IMDB rank 75 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

**I’ve received 3 remaining IMDB guest reviews to post but have a lot still outstanding. Let me know if you still wish to review the movie(s) you’ve signed up for. If not, I’ll add them back to the list of available films. Thanks!**

IMG_0880
How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! / The world forgetting, by the world forgot / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! / Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.” – Mary

I have nothing but good memories about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  See what I did there?

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not your usual and conventional romantic film.  The ‘boy meets girl’ concept is a familiar and overused trope in the film world. But with the added sci-fi twist involving memories, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ignores the trend and takes the audience on a mind bending and surreal experience that is full of charm, wit and most importantly, sentiment.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as Joel and Clementine.  After spending two years together as a couple, the relationship turns sour. They undergo a procedure that erases their memories of each other.  Trouble is, as impulsive they were in committing themselves to the procedure, they rediscover what they had in the first place.

“Random thoughts for Valentine’s day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” – Joel

The unique quirks in this film are displayed in its brilliant visual concept.  It taps into the surreal nature of the mind where it’s never consistent or logical.  Its visual complexity and how each scene transitions unto the next are handled seamlessly.  Most scenes don’t contain any CGI effects, just clever camera movements!  It may feel jarring at first but once your mind gets to grip with the concept, it’s a rewarding experience.

IMG_0883

There’s something very low key about the technology used in the film by Lacuna Inc.  2015 and swiping on everything that has a screen size over four inches has become the norm.  With its ease of use and simplicity, you can’t imagine how we coped before!  But for a film that came out in 2004, the technology is a little clunky with CRT monitors straight out of the 80s or 90s, a time capsule reminder of the evolving past we use to belong to…and it wasn’t that long ago!  It never looks sleek, state of the art or high tech – there are many functional parts in order to make it work and it does its job. The film doesn’t dwell on how the procedure works except for acknowledging that the effects are on par with a night of heavy drinking.  It gives us as the audience a basic understanding of what it does, mapping personal items with emotional connections, which form as part of the erasure development process.  Because of this, the essence of the business by Lacuna Inc. is small scale and experimental.  It’s not seen as a global attraction like something out of Total Recall with its tongue-in-cheek advertising.  In fact, it’s the opposite where the experience is a more personal and intimate, like visiting your local doctor.

While the film doesn’t explore in great detail about Lacuna’s operations, the film does raise some ethical questions. There’s never a feeling over who is held accountable for its practices.  The characters of Patrick (Elijah Wood), Stan (Mark Ruffalo) Mary (Kirsten Dunst) and Dr. Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) are quirky individuals who have used the memory erasure technology for their own gain and advantages.  A great example of this belongs with Patrick who steals Joel’s personal items to make a good impression with Clementine.  It completely backfires on him but what he essentially does is commit identity fraud.  The actual procedure happens at night in the comfort of your home while you’re asleep.  So is it right that the technicians raid your fridge or dance on your bed with great freedom while you’re undergoing your treatment?  You will wake up without any recognition that they were there the night before but there’s a certain level of trust to be had to accept the strange and intrusive circumstances.

IMG_0882

In essence it is a clandestine and artificial relationship of convenience.  Someone from your inner circle will be informed about the procedure and you (or them) are expected to live with that knowledge, such as Joel’s friends. While the Doctor or any of his team can preach about how wonderful the process is, the real issue is the aftercare.  At times there’s a lack of professionalism within the group and if they’re not accepting their responsibilities and the consequences from their actions, would you want to undergo an experiment like this?  I certainly wouldn’t.

Clementine: “You know me, I’m impulsive.”

Joel: “That’s what I love about you.”

However, the sci-fi element is secondary to the actual plot because its main focus is on Joel and Clementine.  When they are first introduced, they are complete opposites both in personality and character.

Joel acts more like an introvert.  He’s quiet and unadventurous.  He’s comfortable within his own head.  He’s clearly talented and likes to draw but otherwise his life is pretty mundane.  Clementine on the other hand is more of an extrovert – outspoken, forward and defiant.  It’s a relationship that probably shouldn’t work but their qualities make them attractive.  Clementine brings excitement for Joel, allowing him to do something out of his comfort zone.  Joel brings stability and reassurance, accepting Clementine’s personality for what it is without compromise.

The greatest strength of the film is that their relationship is presented as honest and real.  Nothing feels clichéd or predictable.  When their relationship does fall apart, you can’t help but go through the motions with them and the actual reason for the break up will seem silly as an outsider.

Cleverly, Joel’s erasure of his memory occurs backwards from the time of the break up, ending to where he met Clementine for the first time.  You see Joel’s world literally falling apart, a visual representation of the hurt and anger he was experiencing – a scene helped with brilliant visual effects.

But are all memories bad?  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind says no and over the course of the film, Joel changes his mind despite being physically powerless to do so.  With the help of Clementine (the dream version in his head) he runs and battles against the deletion by creating scenarios in his mind where the machine couldn’t find him.  On the flip side, the real Clementine who already had the procedure is not the vibrant, confident girl that you witnessed at the beginning of the film.  She’s lost, manic and feels disconnected.  Her new boyfriend Patrick might be saying all the right things to her but it fails to put her mind at ease.  Something is missing in her life but she can’t remember what.

IMG_0881

That’s what special about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Memories both good and bad can define a person.  It shapes your personality and character.  What this film has in abundance is the acknowledgement of sentiment, living and embracing your life.  The negative memories will hurt, as they should do but it portrays the positives ones as something you should hold onto and treasure.  It makes life worth living.

For Joel and Clementine, being together is what made them whole. The film does strike a chord even if this is not your type of movie.  There are plenty of identifiable and personal moments that you as the audience can relate to.  Lacuna Inc. may have perfected a procedure to erase your thoughts but there is no perfect formula for love and at times, it can’t be explained.  If your relationship is based on a lie (e.g. Patrick and Clementine), then the foundations will crumble.  What Joel and Clementine have is something magnetic that kept pulling them together in every bizarre situation without them realising it.  That is something that Lacuna Inc. didn’t count on.  They were so busy fulfilling a misguided duty that in the end it exposed their own hypocrisy and business practice.  To them everything was a quick fix without addressing the real problem.

“Come back and make up a good-bye at least. Let’s pretend we had one.” – Clementine

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey are fantastic and once again it proves that Jim Carrey is a man of many talents.  He’s not limited to comedy and can do something dramatic.  For me, this is up there with his performance in The Truman Show.  It’s great to see him as an everyman character.  He’s famous for playing eccentric characters, but in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, he underplays it.  He is often reacting to the dream scenarios around him rather than being the direct cause of it.  The technicians from Lacuna Inc. deliver the eccentricity and humorous nature of film.  Joel and Clementine deliver the heart.

Aided with a beautiful soundtrack by Jon Brion, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a deep and emotional exploration on the nature of relationships.  It breaks down each moment of Joel and Clementine’s relationship into sizable chunks because in the end, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  The ending is left up to the audience to interpret which can be viewed as optimistic or pessimistic but it’s a film worth watching again and again because of the underlying messages it conveys.  It’s a wonderful, unique and enjoyable movie.

Or as Joel would say, it’s nice.

Divergent (2014) Review

20140508-085050 pm.jpg

Divergent (2014)

Directed by Neil Burger

Based on Divergent by Veronica Roth

Starring:
Shailene Woodley
Theo James
Ashley Judd
Jai Courtney
Ray Stevenson
Zoë Kravitz
Miles Teller
Tony Goldwyn
Maggie Q
Kate Winslet

Running time: 139 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)

The story takes place in a dystopian post-apocalyptic version of Chicago where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Beatrice Prior is warned that she is Divergent and thus will never fit into any one of the factions and soon learns that a sinister plot is brewing in her seemingly perfect society.

20140508-085949 pm.jpg

My Opinion:

See that up there in the plot synopsis? “Dystopian post-apocalyptic“! I freaking love dystopian. And post-apocalyptic. And especially the two together – dystopian post-apocalyptic!!! And in my usual anal list-making ways, I already did a list of My Top Ten Post-Apocalyptic Movies HERE. I also love current YA fiction so Divergent is right up my alley, which is probably why I enjoyed it more than it may have deserved.

20140508-090503 pm.jpg

First of all: I’ve not read the books. I used to read a lot more and I always try to read a book before seeing the movie if it’s the type of book that interests me. But I just don’t have the time to read anymore (I’ve been reading Doctor Sleep since December. I’m finally almost finished – should be done by June!). I LOVED The Hunger Games books (and the movies have been very good adaptations, especially Catching Fire, review HERE). But as good as they are, I never quite fully enjoy the movies as much when I’ve read the books since the books are better 90% of the time. So, with Divergent, I thought “screw it!”. It might be nice to just sit back & enjoy a movie series without having to overanalyze and constantly compare it to the books and to not know how it’ll all end. So I quite enjoyed this story even though it’s a not-as-good Hunger Games with a story that doesn’t come together as well and characters that aren’t as well-developed or acted. I know it’s YA fiction but it feels more “shallow” than The Hunger Games, which does make you think a bit. I don’t know if maybe it works a bit better in the books but the story was at least entertaining enough that I do want to see the rest of the movies to see where they go with it.

20140508-090605 pm.jpg

I liked Shailene Woodley but don’t think she’s as strong of a lead actress as Jennifer Lawrence is in The Hunger Games (sorry – it’s VERY hard to not compare the two). The hubby especially didn’t seem to like her for some reason so… I don’t know. I think she may be one that female viewers like more than male viewers do whereas both sexes seem to love J-Law. I would think Divergent will have far fewer male fans than The Hunger Games does, which seems to appeal to everyone. Divergent FEELS more like young adult fiction aimed mostly at girls than The Hunger Games does. Well, I don’t care what the hubby says – I’ve liked Shailene Woodley so far in what I’ve seen her in & she at least seems like a “real world” teenage girl. I think she also has very lovely, expressive eyes & I’m looking forward to seeing how she does in The Fault In Our Stars (another YA book I loved. Review HERE). I think that type of thing may suit her more than something like this, which has a lot of action and far more violence than I was expecting. (It’s actually very violent, for any parents who may be reading this & wondering. The content is as violent as The Hunger Games and there’s a lot more hand to hand combat, almost making it feel even more violent than The Hunger Games).

20140508-090657 pm.jpg

As for all the other characters, I found them a little weak & underdeveloped compared to Woodley’s. Ashley Judd as Woodley’s mother was one of the better characters but we don’t get to see as much of the two of them together as I’d have liked. Her brother & especially father may as well not even be IN the movie for as little as we learn about them. And, I’ll keep this as spoiler free as I can but… One character has a secret yet has a tattoo that gives away that important secret?! Whaaat? That seemed stupid. And Kate Winslet was fine but a total cookie cutter character. Zoë Kravitz wasn’t too bad and she’s pretty cute (it helps to have really attractive parents, I suppose). I just really felt no connection to anyone beyond Woodley – hopefully we get better character development in the sequels so I don’t have to read the books.

20140508-090741 pm.jpg

Summary:

I enjoyed this movie but it definitely has its faults. The story is a bit of a mess and doesn’t come together all that well (I was a little confused at times). I’m hoping the sequels will be better and that the characters will be further developed. Basically, it’s just not as good as The Hunger Games and feels more “YA”. But I do like the overall concept and the amount of good YA fiction these days with strong female characters is a great thing to see.

My Rating: 6.5/10

20140508-090824 pm.jpg