7:30 PM, 1st April, 2016
This is no life story docu-drama slog. Steve Jobs is a hyper-realised depiction of one man’s life, elevated to operatic, near Shakespearean tragedy. It’s a biopic on steroids. An action movie in which words fly in place of bullets, thanks to screenwriter extraordinaire Aaron Sorkin’s wordy diatribes and director Danny Boyle’s penchant for controlled chaos.
The film unfurls in three acts revolving around three key behind-the-scenes moments in the late Apple co-founder’s life. The first, in 1984, prior to the launch of the Macintosh computer; the second, in 1988, as an exiled Jobs (Fassbender) prepares to launch his ill-fated NeXT system and plots revenge on those who booted him out of Apple; and the third, in 1998, as he readies his triumphant return with the launch of the iMac.
Spanning 14 years, the three periods – each fittingly shot on different film formats from 16mm to 35mm to digital – sees Jobs battling personal as well as professional demons, from questions about his paternity of young Lisa, to his leadership of the company he formed in his garage, and his ever-changing relationship with fellow co-founder Steve Wozniak (Rogen).
Fassbender – while not a dead ringer for Jobs – channels the deified Apple head in what would be the role of a lifetime for any other actor, and absolutely nails it. It doesn’t hurt that he gets to an A-list supporting cast to play off either, including Rogen, Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels. Steve Jobs is top-notch filmmaking all around – an ambitious and breathtaking achievement that makes for essential viewing.
9:42 PM, 1st April, 2016
M. Night Shyamalan spectacularly rose to prominence as a film director with the “I see dead people” movie, The Sixth Sense. Just as Alfred Hitchcock’s movies have a signature cameo by the director, so too do M. Night Shyamalan’s movies have a signature plot twist created by the writer/director.
And indeed The Visit has a typical Shyamalan plot twist. But where The Visit is atypical:
a) This is Shyamalan’s first ‘found footage’ film, but he handles it with more finesse than most of this genre,
b) This is a perfectly balanced horror/comedy film (too much comedy and it is difficult to take the horror seriously, too much horror and any laughter is forced).
The setup of The Visit is straightforward; 15-year-old Rebecca Jamison (DeJonge) and her 13-year-old brother Tyler (Aussie actor Oxenbould, star of Paper Planes) embark upon a first-time week-long visit to their grandparents. Rebecca and Tyler jointly film a documentary about their holiday with Nana (Dunagan) and Pop Pop (McRobbie), but they soon realise that their grandparents are idiosyncratic and eccentric in a very unusual way.
The Visit cost US$5 million to make, but has so far grossed nearly US$100 million worldwide. In my opinion, a significant reason for its success was Shyamalan’s long awaited return to form alongside the innate charisma and lovableness of Ed Oxenbould.