Accompanied by a surprise special guest, Xavier and Henry return for some discussion of Steve Jobs and the iPad Pro, before waxing lyrical about pie, podcasts, and the role of social media in the aftermath of the tragedy in Paris last week.
To describe me as a moviegoer would be more than a tad disingenuous. Finding the time to sit down and properly immerse myself in a film, let alone take a trip to a cinema to spend my life savings on a box of popcorn that I’ll regret within minutes, is difficult.
Nevertheless, I do tend to enjoy adaptations of books that document the lives of the modern world’s more perplexing figures. Two that come to mind are The Social Network, the Oscar-winning dramatisation of the origins of Facebook that helped us to realise that Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Cera were not actually the same person, and Moneyball, the Oscar-nominated translation of advanced baseball statistics and a hairy Brad Pitt to a mainstream audience.
The common link of these movies? Acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. His latest twirl of the pen, Steve Jobs, is about to hit UK screens, however those looking for another film of that ilk may be sorely disappointed. Directed by Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs claims to be based upon Walter Isaacson’s 2011 authorised biography of the late Apple co-founder, though is not afraid to abandon all pretence of historical accuracy bar the presentation itself.
Cinematically, Steve Jobs is perhaps the most intriguing film since Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar-winner Birdman. Set almost solely on location in three auditoriums, it is fitting that the movie has a trio of theatrical acts, each taking place in the immediate lead-up to product launches (Macintosh in 1984, NeXT Computer in 1988, iMac in 1998). Of course, by Sorkin’s own admission, it’s incredibly unlikely that Jobs would have had aggressive and fast-paced conversations with the same core of acquaintances at any, let alone all, of the three events, but this narrowed focus does help to entice an audience to persist through its prolonged 122 minute runtime. Unfortunately, it is where Sorkin and co. play recklessly with the facts that you would expect a film titled Steve Jobs to present that the movie begins to unravel.
Our three segments portray individual key concepts: Jobs The Heartless Bastard, Jobs The Manipulative Genius, and Jobs The Sentimental Hollywood Movie Character (not technical terms, I assure you). Each is extrapolated over the 40 minutes immediately prior to Jobs taking the stage. The first centralises around Jobs’ relationship with Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston) and his daughter (much to his initial chagrin) Lisa, whilst the second expands into his business endeavours and that little stumble of being fired by Apple’s board. The final part, an elongated spectacle of sentimentality, grates tremendously, culminating in Jobs chasing his finally-a-daughter onto a roof to tell her he’s going to make the iPod and solve all their problems. Or something. Interest was waning by this point.
Our Jobs is Michael Fassbender, who plays his part exceptionally. It’s quite simple to forget how little he looks like his real-life equivalent as he oscillates between nit-picking details and heartless dismissal of his own children with chilling ease, and he does settle physically into the role as time passes. Early on, despite the movie and the character doing everything possible to encourage hatred for the man, Fassbender somehow creates slivers of empathy for the audience to grasp on to. If nothing else gains recognition come award season, his performance is highly commendable.
Other performances, however, drag the movie slowly beneath the surface. Seth Rogen, portraying a bumbling caricature of Steve Wozniak, takes to serious acting like a MacBook to water. His confrontation with Jobs, which is one of oh so many, introduces the audience to the concept of Xerox PARC and Jobs’ own ‘lack’ of contributions to the actual creation of the devices.
Various characters – such as Jobs’ right-hand woman Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), father figure and sometime Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), and benevolent object of berating Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) – pop up throughout, regardless of their actual employment status at the times depicted, and take their turns to sound off at Jobs in a formulaic manner. Particularly in the final segment, all the movie is missing is a physical queue outside Jobs’ dressing room with a deli counter ticketing system.
To appreciate Steve Jobs is to appreciate Steve Jobs, not Steve Jobs. This is a decent movie loosely based on a set of real people, blatantly masquerading as a biopic for a mainstream audience that may not know better. Ignore the name, for this is not a biopic of one of the foremost figures in consumer technology. Walt Mossberg, who knew Jobs and interviewed him on numerous occasions, compared Steve Jobs to Citizen Kane, in which Orson Welles took liberties with the truth and repackaged it under a different banner to bring it to the world.
Fast-talking, confrontational, and frantic. Perhaps an accurate tricolon for the Silicon Valley of today, though not the formula for what is in essence a serious mockumentary to fulfil its lofty expectations. A fascinating work of fiction it may be, but Steve Jobs is not the Steve Jobs movie we’ve been waiting for.
Steve Jobs opens in UK cinemas tomorrow (November 13th)
Only a month between podcasts! Worth a celebratory cake, I would say. The fact that it’s Digixav’s fourth birthday and we’ve finally started doing the whole video thing when it comes to podcasts. Xavier ensured it was on Henry‘s face the whole time, but that’s not the point. Join us for chatter about Microsoft’s Surface Book, Apple’s typographical transitions, LG’s forgettable foray into computing, and a few too many coughs.
- Sony’s waterproof retraction
- Microsoft makes a laptop
- LG also makes a laptop
- Self-driving Pink Batman Tesla
- Chicago Cubs goat curse
- XVH Soundsystem on Surge Radio
It’s good, but it’s no iOS 9.1.
Remember us? Didn’t think so. Henry and Xavier, though, are back with a delightful ramble that, clocking in at over 100 minutes and in a delightful mono format, qualifies as a podcast. Join the fun as we discuss Xavier’s conversion to a smartwatch, Sony’s pixels on pixels, and Henry’s Applification. Now with added broken promises about liveblogging Apple events!
- Android Phone Name Generator
- Euro Truck Simulator 2
- The Verge: Sony launches Xperia Z5 family with fingerprint sensor and new camera
- The Verge: LG’s $1,200 Urbane Luxe wraps short-lived technology in timeless gold
- Xavier’s Madeon review
- Robert Scoble
Following a brief hiatus that may or may not extend to April 2013, the Digixav app of the week is back. This week it takes the form of Monsters Ate My Metropolis by Adult Swim Games. Another sequel to the wildly successful (and extremely addictive if Xavier is anything to go by) game Monsters Ate My Condo, Monsters Ate My Metropolis allows each player to take control of their own city and one of four accompanying monsters in a quest to increase their own population by citizens from others.
To steal population, you must beat another players city in a card game using decks of 12 cards of varying colours and effects. Choosing the right colour card at the right time will give it a power boost and will weaken the attack of the opponent meaning even weaker cards can do a lot of damage if used at the right time.
Depending on the level of both your monsters and your city (you gain experience by both attacking and being attacked by other players whilst you are away) you will be entered into different weekly tournaments which you can progress through by attacking other members and stealing their population. The higher rank you end at in the tournament the better the reward card you receive will be.
On top of this you can buy in-game booster packs with either gold or gems, with gold alternatively being earned through gameplay and gems either bought or earned by watching optional advertisements.
After September’s tease, Apple fully unveiled its first foray into the horological sector at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Monday. The Apple Watch, stylised as Watch because why not, is much the same as previously glimpsed, which is to say an accessory that you shouldn’t buy but many people will.
The timepiece itself is inoffensive by the lacklustre standards we have seen developing over the past few years since Pebble overwhelmed Kickstarter. It has a face either 38 or 42 millimetres high, comes in a moderate plethora of metal alloys (aluminium, steel, gold) and straps (plastic, leather, metal of some sort), and runs a custom version of iOS with a new Roboto-esque font, designed for increased legibility at smaller point sizes as Helvetica Neue is a chocolate teapot on normal displays, like the diminutive sapphire crystal panel on display here.
“Apple Watch represents a new chapter in the relationship people have with technology. It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made, because it’s the first one designed to be worn,” claims Apple in their online marketing fanfare, conveniently ignoring the majestic second generation iPod Shuffle. Not worn for long, apparently, as rumours abound (of course, nobody outside Cupertino has properly used one yet) that the battery will last for 18 hours at best and, if used, should only be for 10 second bursts.
Yet, the Apple Watch makes little sense in any context. The very raison d’être for smartwatches is to stop you from looking at your phone all the time by charging you some money for another screen that only does things that your phone can do better whilst still relying on the phone as its source of knowledge. They are the ultimate accessory to opulence; a sign that someone either has more money than sense or some tremendous difficulty in moving their hand to their pocket to see what’s occurring.
Apple’s site brags about how, with Apple Watch, you can leave emoji comments on Instagram, check the charge status of your BMW i3, stay on top of eBay auctions, check sports scores with ESPN, read your Twitter feed, unlock your room at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, read news with CNN, and a scant few more things that they think justify an extra £279+ expense come April 24th. I don’t doubt for one second that they’ll eclipse the existing smartwatch marketplace within minutes, if not days, but what I fail to comprehend is whether putting more onto your wrist actually benefits user experience in any way. The fear is that trying to interact with applications in this form will equate to sheer frustration once the gimmick has worn off and the return window concludes.
Then, there’s the Apple Watch Edition. A worthy rival of fellow smartwatch producer will.i.am’s i.am+ foto.sosho iPhone camera case for the worst product name in the history of consumer technology, the Apple Watch Edition is technically identical to the bog standard Watch Sport (the base model, for those who aren’t following the ineptitude), yet commands a base price of £8,000 thanks to its ceramic-reinforced 18-karat yellow or rose gold casing and fancier strap. You can nudge this up to £12,000 quite easily, and though I’m certain that the target market for this Edition is going to splash out for the sake of it rather than for the value, a typical pricy timepiece is hand-crafted within a Swiss mountain hut and, in some respect, worth it. Flung together by those on the factory floor at Foxconn, the Apple Watch can’t demand such lustre.
Perhaps the reason I don’t understand this impending zeitgeist is because I’m not a connoisseur of timekeeping. As I write, what lurks on my right wrist is a £25 digital Lorus contraption with a scratched face, broken strap and a frustrating method of adjusting the time guaranteeing that it dwells two minutes into the future. Why do I persist with it? Because it can give me a good enough idea of what time it is, just as it has for the last five or so years without any issues, battery charges or extraneous expenses.
If I want any more information, I’ll check my phone. Often, I’ll even look at the phone for the time because I’m already responding to an email or something. You know, those alerts that make a noise or vibration in your pocket and don’t intrude unless they need to, rather than something on my wrist that provides yet another distraction, reeks of torpidity, and provides a dreadful way for users to interact with their technologies. There’s a reason smartphone displays have become bigger of late.
Pebble spent the whole evening mocking Apple on Twitter, and rightfully so. If any smartwatch was a viable commodity, it would be one of Pebble’s. Their emphasis on consuming information rather than interacting with it is reflected in the price tag (£99 for the plastic model, £179 for the steel one), and choice of display, with a Kindle-like e-paper display which is visible in sunlight for those of us that dare to venture outside, and a battery that is claimed to last a whole week.
The Apple Watch, in all its forms, is solutionism embodied. The world’s foremost consumer technology firm has fallen into the trap of building what is by early accounts a clunky and overpriced attempt at resolving the issue of smartphones imposing on our lives – an issue that either they created with the iPhone in 2007 or that they fabricated to extract more from our pockets.
Perhaps the Watch is an attempt by Apple to position itself as a luxury fashion brand rather than a consumer technology giant. Perhaps there is a legitimate market for technology as a fashion accessory that the Apple Watch will spur. Perhaps Jony Ive and co., in all their wisdom, genuinely thought that they should jump on the wearable bandwagon.
All I know is that I won’t be joining them any time soon.