Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015)

Cast includes: Steve Jobs
Director: Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room)
Genre: Documentary (128 minutes)

Huffington Post

“Look at that. I’m on television,” says Steve Jobs before his first TV interview. “I’ve been crying, and I’ve never even met the man,” says a mourner outside an Apple store, October 5, 2011. “He’s made everything!” #ThankYouSteve #iSad. “It was the kind of outpouring of love we saw for Martin Luther King, yet Steve Jobs didn’t start a social movement”… or did he? Jobs kicked off Apple’s 1984 shareholder’s meeting with Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changing”… which turned out to be more true than anyone could have guessed. In the 60s and 70s, computers weren’t something to love. Computers = IBM. In 1968 when Jobs was 11, the HP-9100 was born in a Palo Alto research lab. Around that time, Steve Wozniak showed his friend Steve Jobs an article about “blue boxes.” Steve and Woz decided to build one of their own. It was a little device that could trick any phone into making calls to anywhere in the world. Eventually, they ran out of people to call, and Jobs had the idea… “Hey, why don’t we sell these!”

After the blue boxes, Jobs got a job at Atari as a game programmer, while Woz got a job at HP. After work, Woz would come over to Atari and work with Jobs. “We got 2 Steves for the price of one.” When the game did well, Atari paid a bonus which Jobs shared with Woz… sort of. The bonus was $7,000. Steve told Woz it was $700 and gave him $350. Woz was “just happy to be there helping with the work,” but the lie… which he eventually learned about… felt like a betrayal. It was a telling glimpse into Steve’s priorities. When Steve and Woz introduced their first personal computer, Woz had no feel for promotion, so Steve took it over… inventing the brand that would grow from a seedling into a giant Apple. “He had the ability to talk about what you could do with the product… to seduce you.” Time Magazine gave Apple and Steve an article that that put them on the map. Apple was “David,” and IBM was “Goliath.” Jobs was a superhero… The problem with a mythic character… “He was not that much fun to be around most of the time,” says a former designer… “But there were these moments, when suddenly he was the only person who could have done it.”

“The irony of Steve Jobs is that he wanted to make technology that would connect the world, but he wasn’t really able to make personal connections,” says the mother of Steve’s first child. “He’d either seduce you, or vilify you, or ignore you… you were always in one of those 3 states,” says a former Apple designer. There have been other documentaries about Steve Jobs, but this may be the best… good clips and excellent editing. Like most, I love my Apple products, and I don’t want to learn anything about “the man in the machine” that doesn’t support that love. But in the realm of human genius vs. mythic genius, contrast is part of the package. This film does an excellent job of balancing the contrasting parts. Jobs was the master of turning magical thinking into reality, no matter what it took… no matter what it took. Steve Jobs and Apple products have truly changed the paradigm. And the irony is that the man who wanted to connect the world but who wasn’t any good at making personal connections has connected us in a way many describe as, “alone together.”

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

The man who invented a product, a company and a paradigm change

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Neutral 
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release
Mood: Neutral
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished Realism
Nutshell: The complexities of Steve Jobs
Language: True to life

Social Significance: Informative & Thought Provoking

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