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Jobs

Year: 2013
Production Co: Open Road Films
Director: Joshua Michael Stern
Writer: Matt Whiteley
Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, J K Simmons, Matthew Modine, Lesley Anne Warren, Ron Eldard, Kevin Dunn, James Woods

With another – presumably more anticipated – version gearing up with Michael Fassbender as I write this review, this film has been mostly forgotten. It got a lot of attention prior to the first screening at one of the cool festivals, then seemed to get a very limited release and sink like a stone are so-so reviews.

As such I was expecting something truly terrible, but I was pleasantly surprised. It did as good a job as you can expect enmeshing the personal, the corporate and the social during the period between Jobs being a scruffy young college idealist and showing the iPod to Apple employees in 2011 (a move that – as the end title cards remind us – put Apple on the path to being the most valuable company in the world).

I can't figure out what a lot of the negative reviews have a problem with. Kutcher looks so much like Jobs throughout the period depicted it's uncanny, and if you know anything about the history of the company or the movement it's always cool seeing actors play real names like Markkula, Sculley, Wozniak, etc.

There's been a lot of comment on how it doesn't dig deep enough or isn't emotional enough, but I don't know what people expect. Kutcher does more than his share of depicting as many demons as Job could have had. His rejection of his biological daughter, the enemies he made at work in the pursuit of perfection and Wozniak's eventual defection from his aura are all well documented.

I think the problem is that we've all thrust a mystique upon the real Jobs (one that it seems he himself bought into, judging by his swansong book by Walter Isaacson), an archetype of the tortured, rebellious genius who changed the world.

He might have just been an effective inventor, marketer and eventual corporate leader who had his foibles rather than some mercurial psychopath. We all have our own, along with relationships, dreams and problems.

It's just that in our society we tend to ascribe greatness or extremes of character on the rich or successful, and expecting some dark psychological deconstruction of a guy who ran an electronics company might be asking a bit too much.

Look past all those expectations and it's a lively retelling. We see Jobs enter into his first deal building motherboards for a San Francisco computer shop, wheeling the Apple out for the 1976 Computer Faire, surrounding himself with his acolytes and all the rocky seas that ensued with going public and dealing with competing agendas.

It's a story about a company and a product class as much as a man, and because we shouldn't mistake the man for being some sort of flawed demigod, it's the best movie it can possibly be about it.

What will be interesting to see about Fassbender, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin's version isn't whether they'll do good work (that's a given), but whether they transform what looks like essentially the same story into a parable about rage, terror and human frailty like some sort of real life Clash of the Titans .

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