Steve Jobs: The Man in the Ma­chine

STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MA­CHINE, doc­u­men­tary, rated R, Vi­o­let Crown Cin­ema, 2.5 chiles

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS -

Di­rec­tor Alex Gib­ney has fol­lowed his in­dict­ment of Scientology in Go­ing

Clear (2015) with another, less suc­cess­ful at­tempt at a hard-hit­ting doc­u­men­tary. Ap­ple Com­puter’s Steve Jobs, who founded the com­pany in 1976 with Steve Woz­niak, is the sub­ject of Gib­ney’s new film Steve Jobs: The

Man in the Ma­chine. The doc­u­men­tary makes a solid point: Jobs and his in­ven­tions are insep­a­ra­ble. But the film seems un­de­cided as to whether or not to em­brace or den­i­grate its sub­ject, an in­fu­ri­at­ingly ab­stract and un­read­able fig­ure.

Among the film’s more fas­ci­nat­ing as­pects is its re­count­ing of the history of the Ap­ple Com­puter, from the first de­sign by Woz­niak to iPods, iPhones, and iPads in use to­day. Woz­niak was an iras­ci­ble fig­ure and a master at do-it-your­self projects. While in col­lege at Berke­ley, he and Jobs sold blue boxes, illegal de­vices used to make long-dis­tance calls free of charge. By the mid-1980s, Ap­ple was giv­ing IBM com­pe­ti­tion with the Mac­in­tosh com­puter and Jobs, a con­fi­dent, ar­ro­gant ge­nius with an en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit, was milk­ing Ap­ple’s im­age as the David to IBM’s Go­liath. The im­age was ce­mented by an iconic ad inspired by Ge­orge Or­well’s novel 1984, show­ing a ham­mer smash­ing a screen on which Big Brother (an al­lu­sion to IBM) is de­liv­er­ing a speech to the masses.

The Mac­in­tosh was pre­ceded by the Ap­ple Lisa, which Jobs named for his daugh­ter, although he was more in­ter­ested in find­ing a name for the com­puter than in honor­ing Lisa. He later ques­tioned his daugh­ter’s pa­ter­nity in court, re­fus­ing to pay $500 a month in child sup­port de­spite be­ing worth around $200 mil­lion at the time. Ap­ple em­ploy­ees were rou­tinely se­duced, vil­i­fied, and ig­nored by Jobs. He treated col­leagues and fam­ily mem­bers with a cal­lous­ness that seemed so­cio­pathic.

Jobs’ vi­sion for Ap­ple su­perceded other con­sid­er­a­tions. His ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Zen Bud­dhism had him study­ing un­der Kobun Oto­gawa, a Zen priest. Jobs wanted to be­come a monk but had too great an at­tach­ment to his ego. He left Ap­ple in 1985 af­ter dis­agree­ments with then-CEO John Scul­ley, who ran the com­pany un­til 1993. Jobs re­turned to Ap­ple in 1997 and re­vived a flag­ging com­pany with the in­tro­duc­tion of the iMac. Gib­ney cov­ers con­tro­ver­sies at Ap­ple such as out­sourc­ing man­u­fac­ture to over­seas fac­to­ries. When la­bor abuses were ex­posed at Fox­conn, a Tai­wanese com­pany with a fac­tory in China, the news was fol­lowed by a se­ries of sui­cides by Fox­conn em­ploy­ees. Jobs seemed more con­cerned about Ap­ple’s im­age than for the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies.

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Ma­chine is a con­tra­dic­tory film. It of­ten feels as though Gib­ney wants to go deeper, but he keeps Jobs at arm’s length. The seg­ment that deals with the can­cer that ended his life in 2011 does not elicit much sym­pa­thy, and the re­sult­ing por­trait feels in­com­plete and dis­pas­sion­ate. — Michael Abatemarco

Ma­chine sage: Steve Jobs

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.