Hits & Misses

Steve Jobs: This movie is underperforming at the box office right now so my expectations were tempered, but the truth is, I was the-intense-first-trailer-for-aaron-sorkins-steve-jobs-movie-paints-a-picture-of-an-egotistical-and-difficult-manriveted. Yes, riveted, for the entire 2 hours. Aaron Sorkin has crafted a film in 3 acts, all three covering the moments before big product launches and pivotal times in Jobs’ life. 1984: the Macintosh is launched just days after that historic Superbowl ad while Jobs is angry at having lost Time magazine’s Man of the Year to a computer in part because of his vehement denials of paternity to 5-year-old Lisa. 1988: after the failure of the Macintosh, Jobs has left Apple and is launching the NeXTcube with his eye on the bigger picture. 1998: back at Apple, he’s launching the iMac, computer of tomorrow. Jeff DBildschirmfoto-2015-07-03-um-11_47_44aniels plays the Apple CEO and Kate Winslet plays Jobs’ right hand woman; both exactly as brilliantly as you’d expect. Michael Fassbender is of course Jobs himself, and I have no qualms about his portrayal of an extremely complex man. He’s an egomaniacal dick, and yet we still see his humanity. The surprise for 11730-4866-2536097E00000578-0-image-a-27_1422709812751-2-xlme was Seth Rogen who plays Steve Wozniak, who is a very interesting character. He’s very much the affable, humble counterpart to Jobs’ mad genius, but is also the one who actually knows how to design and build computers (Jobs being more of an idea man). Rogen manages to strike a balance between being second banana, and also being the only one who can truly stand up to Jobs. Colour me impressed, Seth Rogen. Danny Boyle has a well-crafted beast on his hands – maybe a little too rigidly structured, but admirably made. I didn’t expect to love this, but I really did.

Truth: An icon playing an icon – Robert Redford portrays Dan Rather as he becomes embroiled in the journalistic snafu that would end his enviable career. In 2000, Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) was about to break the story of George Bush’s spotty military career. You may remember the highlights: that he pulled strings to be admitted to the National Guard in order to avoid service in Vietnam, then went AWOL and never really completed even that much. It was going to be a big deal inrather an election ultimately decided by just 500-odd votes, but that summer Mapes’ mother died and the story never aired. Four years later, though, the story is revived when someone comes forward with documents. Mapes and her team (Elisabeth Moss, Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid) bust it wide open after a lot of teasing and research and legwork, and Dan Rather presents the case on 60 Minutes. But of course Republicans were never going to let this 75story sit, and pretty soon the internet trolls are working feverishly to discredit whatever they can. Truth becomes not just a story about journalism, but about government corruption at the highest level. 60 Minutes is on CBS. CBS was owned by Viacom, a conglomerate that relied on government tax breaks. Can they afford to upset the presidency? Truth, the actual truth, gets lost somewhere in the shuffle. Sean felt it made a better story than a movie, and he may be right. Blanchett is note-perfect, and Redford surprised me – he doesn’t do an impression of Rather, but he does capture his cadence and persona in a way that felt convincing but not mimicky. The film, though, is pretty conventional, and it’s oddly paced. I absolutely believe that a journalist’s job is to ask questions,b ut that doesn’t mean I needed 18 different soliloquies on the topic. I have a headache from being hit over the head with this message. Relax, James Vanderbilt; your premise is solid and the movie is good if not great. No need to be so sanctimonious.

Jem: A complete defilement of my childhood, no 80s baby is going to have anything to do with this travesty. They’ve ruined everything that made the cartoon of our innocence great: the look is wrong (she used to be outrageous!), the sound is wrong, they’ve traded in a talJemMovie00-630x420king, hologramming computer for Youtube. I spent years as a little girl putting on Jem concerts in a neighbour’s garage, so I think I know what I’m talking about. Even the earrings were botched, for crying out loud. And where was the awesome rival band, the Misfits? Jem and the Holograms weren’t just rockstars, they were businesswomen, philanthropists, crime fighters, and foster mothers. While it aired during the mid-80s, it was in the top 3 most watched kids’ cartoons. Why then did the studios spit in the eye of the franchise by making a movie that was sure to fail? And isn’t even good enough to attract a new audience? How would jemaudiences have felt if the same was done to Transformers, a movie that, according to IMDB, had an estimated budget of $150M in 2007. A couple of years later, GI Joe was given $175M and even though the first one didn’t do all that great, they found another $130M to throw at the sequel. Jem, on the other hand, was given an estimated budget of just $5M. So let’s sit with that for a minute and ask ourselves why. Yes, the 80s version was goofy and over the top, but that beats the bland, paint by numbers crap this remake is offering. It’s trying so hard to appeal to millennials it completely denigrates any nostalgic appeal and alienates the people it was first made for. Epic fail.

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43 thoughts on “Hits & Misses

  1. ridicuryder

    Hi Jay,

    I have a first generation iPad that still works great. I recently switched everything over to Apple – Macbook, iPhone & new iPad mini with keyboard. I really wasn’t excited about giving up my PC and Android, but I had done 90% of my blog on that little old iPad. My experience with Apple has informed me that ruthlessly pursuing a vision has merits. I’m not crazy about the conformity aspects of the products or some of the company’s ethics, but I have to say that these tools have been imagined by someone with a talent for incorporating durability and simplicity into design…and that’s difficult. It’s fucking gigantic when we’re talking electronics / computers.

    RR

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yes, it was funny to see him critique the stuff Apple did without him in the 90s. He was sharp and understood what would be useful. He probably didn’t have a lot of respect for his customers though!

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  2. DotedOn

    Thanks, Jay!
    I’ll pass on the last two… Politics makes my stomach turn and the other one I don’t even know what it is 🙂
    But I’m curious about Steve Jobs. I never liked the man but maybe this movie will make me understand the person 🙂

    (I’m waiting to see your Halloween costume!! 😀 )

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  3. Marshall

    Dude, don’t let the general moviegoing public dictate your moviegoing expectations! Otherwise, you’ll be wanting to see “San Andreas” disproportionately more than … I dunno, “Steve Jobs.” There’s some wisdom in crowds, don’t get me wrong, but definitely best to tune them out on adult dramas sometimes. (That said, I sit here debating whether or not to go see “Our Brand Is Crisis” or “Burnt” based on the disappointing box office numbers from this weekend.)

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  4. Birgit

    I have heard nothing but praise about Steve Jobs regardless if it is tanking at the box office. I do want to see the 2nd picture and what surprises me…and yet doesn’t is what a stupid useless corrupt person Bush is and, even with all that he did, he still was placed in office twice. Yet the powers that be a ripping into Clinton (actually both of them). I shall pass on the Gem movie-never saw the TV show and no care to see the movie

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    1. Jay Post author

      It’s true. I guess people just don’t care to see such a talky movie, but I it felt as thrilling as fast-paced as anything, and it never left me bored for a moment.

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  5. Karl Restoule

    I’m planing on waiting for Bluray/Netflix for Steve Jobs, just because. I’m a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin from The West Wing and The Newsroom, but l’m not a member of the Church of Apple, so I’m not in a rush.

    As for Jem, Michael Bay has been doing awful things to my childhood for sometime with the Transformer, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so I can feel your pain. We need to form a support group

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  6. Liz A.

    Interesting that the thing you liked about Steve Jobs was the very thing that another critic didn’t. The review I read panned the movie due to that very same three-act structure. Just goes to prove that what works for one may not work for another.

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  7. Jordan Dodd

    I really want to see that Jobs movie but it doesn’t come out here till next year! Great review though, I’m reading more and more positive reviews about this one, I can’t wait to see it. I’ve always loved Danny Boyle too

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  8. ruth

    I haven’t got around to reviewing Steve Jobs yet but I actually liked it more than I thought I would. I had read articles about the innacuraccies of the film, probably less than half of the scenes depicted didn’t happen, but it still made for a compelling film. I actually didn’t like Seth Rogen and I thought they didn’t handle the Wozniak role very well, but Fassbender, Jeff Bridges and Kate Winslet were all excellent.

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    1. Jay Post author

      You mean Jeff Daniels, I presume.

      Of course they didn’t happen as depicted. It’s impossible that he conveniently summed up his life in decade increments, always just moments before a big product launch. But I thought it was an effective device.

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  9. SLIP/THROUGH - Dan

    Great reviews. I’m interested in Truth. Some real acting heavyweights there, plus the story is super compelling. You mention soliloquies… so does this hold up to Network?

    I’m still looking forward to Steve Jobs despite some controversies. The main draw is Sorkin, but now I’m looking forward to Rogen too. Thanks for the movie advice… except for Jem 😉 I had an inkling it might be bad already. Come on Hollywood… We need good 80s adaptations for women too.

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    1. Jay Post author

      I knew Jem was bad without seeing it – I saw it to kill time,a nd it BARELY managed to do that.

      Truth does not compare to Network. The acting is the best part, as you say. The pacing felt way off – the script was badly structured.

      Steve Jobs was better than I was expecting. My expectations were not super optimistic going in, so it was a nice surprise.

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  10. kmSalvatore

    Holy crap Jay.. Yes I’m gong straight for Jem.. I wasn’t even aware that it was something from the 80’s. Not to make light of everything you said , my kids have to be the same age as you and I have NO recollection of ever even hearing that name?. But anyway.. Yes!! That commercial they have been showing… STUPID!!!
    It does make one wonder about “expenses ” or lack of?

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, I think there’s something very fishy about how they’re funding these movies, and it doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the one that was epically underfunded is the one that was aimed at little girls.

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  11. Jenna and Allie (@FlickChicksBlog)

    The marketing budget for Jem and the Holograms must be ridiculously huge, we’ve been having trailers for it in the UK for the last 6 months at least and it doesn’t even come out until Feb next year for us! Not that I’ll be rushing to see it, anyway. Really sad that it’s so disappointing for you though as a fan 😦
    – Allie

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  12. Brittani

    I also enjoyed Steve Jobs. I’m looking forward to Truth, I’m hoping to catch it this week. I was a really self involved teenager but I remember when that story aired, my Government teacher was one that went on and on about how the documents were forged, all while not even entertaining the fact that they, that story might just be true even if those documents are fake.

    Jem is truly an interesting failure. My sister watched the Jem cartoon, so when she saw the trailer she was like you, going “wtf is that?!” Then you have my niece who after the first trailer wanted to see it, but when they released the 2nd trailer that had whatever the fuck their version of Synergy was supposed to be, she was like “wtf is that?!” Congratulations, Jem and the Holograms, you killed both of your demos.

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