In his signature black turtleneck and blue jeans, shrouded in shadows below a milky apple, Steve Jobs' image was ubiquitous. But who was the man on the stage? What accounted for the grief of so many across the world when he died? From Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, 'Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine' is a critical examination of Jobs who was at once revered as an iconoclastic genius and a barbed-tongued tyrant. A candid look at Jobs' legacy featuring interviews with a handful of those close to him at different stages in his life, the film is evocative and nuanced in capturing the essence of the Apple legend and his values which shape the culture of Silicon Valley to this day. Written by
Apple senior executive Eddy Cue was quick to express his disappointment in this documentary, describing the film on Twitter as "an inaccurate and mean-spirited view of my friend" and "not a reflection of the Steve I knew." See more »
A more balanced and fair argument than it's given credit for.
Despite his over productivity and well-known biases, Alex Gibney is always an essential documentarian to watch, especially since his Oscar winning film. He's already made the best documentary of the year thus far with his attack on Scientology, Going Clear, anything else is icing on the cake. While that film is a revealing call to arms, his Steve Jobs film The Man In The Machine tries those same tricks but it's coming a little too late, especially as the film frames itself over the outpouring of grief over his death. Not that the film is a poor effort. As Going Clear illustrated what we already knew, so does this film. It's not a 2-hour attack as reported - along with the justifications to question society's hero worship towards him are all the reasons he's beloved and considered a visionary that changed the world. Those later Apple announcements with the awed cheers for Jobs earn a similar spine-tingle as the Scientology congregations in Going Clear. It's more endearing here.
The negative reaction to this documentary's criticisms almost highlight that hero worship he still harnesses, but it's difficult to argue over the hard facts of his bullying, both minor and major as documented here. Ultimately, Gibney poses the film as a reflection on our emotional connection to our technology and how that extends to its creator, but while it's an interesting conversation it results only in vague existentialism asking similar questions that he started with. Yes, we've grown dependant on our tech and Jobs' death sparked fear that innovation will slow, that's more or less where the grief comes from and nothing to do with Jobs' life or business tactics. His image as an icon is Goliath and this film is a little David and it offers a small but fair chiseling of that towering statue. It's not Gibney's best work and it spends this year in the shadow of two significant films, but it's still solidly produced and worth a watch for an insight into Jobs' life, especially with Danny Boyle's biopic on the horizon.
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