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'Jobs' is an authentic great piece of work

Aug. 23, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

I'm sure that everyone wanted me to go see (and review) "The Butler" this week, but I decided on "Jobs," instead... and I'm glad that I did.

Although it is a "niche" movie (you have to be interested in computers, geeks, or Silicon Valley history to enjoy it), it was a great piece of work, primarily because it seemed authentic and for the performance of its star, Ashton Kutcher ("That 70's Show," "Two and a Half Men," "Dude, Where's My Car?") as Steve Jobs.

Director Joshua Michael Stern ("Swing Vote," "Neverwas") was spot on with capturing a vision of the 1970s college (nerd) life and the computer race of the '80s and '90s. His scenes of the famous Jobs garage and the Apple campus seemed perfect, and Kutcher's impressions of Steve Jobs were darned near perfect.

Kutcher's performance stood out even more, because all of the other characters were secondary.

Great back-up players included Dermot Mulroney ("Young Guns," "The Grey," "About Schmidt") as Mike Markkula, Lukas Haas ("Witness," "Contraband," "Inception") as Daniel Kottke, Matthew Modine ("Full Metal Jacket," "Memphis Belle," "Pacific Heights") as CEO John Sculley and character actor (who seems to be everywhere these days), J.K. Simmons ("Oz," "Juno," "The Closer") as Arthur Rock.

Apparently the Powers That Be decided to pick the actors who portrayed real people, primarily because they looked like the real people. This was probably unnecessary, as almost no viewer either knows or cares what the real Daniel Kottke, Rod Holt and Bill Fernandez looked like, except that it made a cool visual during the final credits (Ben Affleck's "Argo," among others, pulled the same stunt).

The standout second tier player was definitely Josh Gad ("Woke Up Dead," "1600 Penn," "Good Vibes") as Steve Wozniak. Just as Joey Slotnick did in the 1999 sleeper "The Pirates of Silicon Valley," Gad does a great job with the character that did the "grunt" work, while Jobs became the visionary.

The accuracy of the movie shows that Jobs was not really the person who invented the products, but he invented the CONCEPT of the products, and takes nothing away from the importance of this man.

I'm sure Thomas Edison did not invent all of the things he is credited with, but his team of scientists and technicians DID. A personable guy, be it an Adolph Hitler, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Bill Clinton or Jim Jones will rise to the top, and has a zealous following, especially by the intelligencia. The God Complex is alive and well in some people.

The movie was not just about Jobs, the man, but about the culture. I just finished a book by a Hollywood studio head, Mike Medavoy, who described how Tinseltown went from being about the movies, and became about the money, and "Jobs" also does this.

The iconic images of Apple staff holding meetings outdoors, employees wearing sandals and working Flex Hours are a part of the legend, but Apple came to represent billions of dollars, cutthroat corporate lawsuits and work place conflict on a grand scale.

The movie moves all too swiftly through the 20 years from garage to Apple campus, but this was the speed in which computers went from Radio Shack components to pocket computers.

"Jobs" shows this, as much as trying to make a humanistic story out of the history.

The fact that Steve Jobs passed away twenty years before the American average, even though he lived his entire life in sunny California, apparently ate healthfully, and kept in shape, may say more about the intensity of the man, than about anything else.

This movie is a "must see" for all the geeks, nerds, hackers and anyone who is interested in how any great dynasty became so. Those who enjoy car chases and body counts should look elsewhere...

Billy Summers is a freelance photographer who also reviews films for the Putnam Herald. He can be reached at summers855@yahoo.com.