One of the more interesting films of the year comes out this week, Steve Jobs, in limited release. It’s being poised as an Oscar contender and Michael Fassbender is being looked at as an early Oscar contender, mainly because this time he doesn’t spend less time on screen than his massive schwantz. That was probably the reason why he didn’t win an Oscar for Shame; it’s one thing to reward a guy who pulled off a brilliant performance in a role that was insanely hard to do so. Playing a sex addict as something that isn’t laughable is difficult and Fassbender pulled it off spectacularly.
It’s why him walking into the role of Steve Jobs in the film of the same name, with a script by Aaron Sorkin, intrigues me from the start. The fact that everyone of note in Hollywood was seemingly attached to this on both sides of the camera, with David Fincher and Christian Bale initially signing on to wind up becoming Danny Boyle and Fassbender when all was send and done, makes it worthy of interest right away. It’s a film that screams awards potential, hence why so many talented actors wound up being linked to it.
Coming off Jobs, an underwhelming biopic two years ago with Ashton Kutcher in the lead, this’ll mark the second biopic of Steve Jobs that has hit theaters since his death in 2011. It’s the third film to tackle his legacy, joining the made for TV Pirates of Silicon Valley in the 1990s, and probably won’t be his last. Jobs has such a unique legacy with Apple in crafting modern life that one imagines at least a couple more films about aspects of his life will be made in the next decade or two. He’s so compelling a figure that trying to figure out his legacy on screen is something we’ll be doing forever. It’ll be the same with Bill Gates dies, as well, but probably more mean spirited because Gates doesn’t inspire people like Jobs did. One question keeps popping into my mind during all of this, of course.
Is it possible for us to discuss the life of Steve Jobs so soon after his death?
The one thing that happens when a figure important in the development of mankind dies is that we want to immortalize them on the big screen. Jobs is certainly an important figure, as Apple helped to change the world with the advent of personal computing, but one thing keeps popping in my head. Has there been enough time for us to be able to take a breath and find that proper place, cinematically, with which to discuss his life?
Four years is a short amount of time to properly evaluate someone’s life and so far it’s felt a little off. Plenty of people have their reputations and legacies changed in death. Joe Paterno’s legacy of being one of the all-time great good guys of college football is largely cemented if he dies in 2005 instead of 2012. There’s a hit to his legacy but the wholesale shellacking of Penn State doesn’t feel nearly as bad if JoePa isn’t alive to see his empire crumple around him. The only people who still hold JoePa in the same sort of reverence now as they did before the Sandusky scandal broke are ardent Penn State fans and the Paterno family, mainly.
So far all the skeletons in the Jobs closet are out there … but what if something comes out and it changes the historical narrative of Jobs’ legacy? That’s the one thing that bugs me about the film; his corpse hasn’t been cold enough yet that having two films about him feels like overkill at this point.
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .