Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Movie Review … Steve Jobs

Computer boffins are the new gods.  Developing a cult following, some have revolutionised the way society works.  Steve Jobs was one such person.  A major driving force in Apple computers, his digital ideas sparked discussion on how to further the computer market.  Making such a person seem interesting is difficult for film although ‘Steve Jobs’ gamely tries.  Attempting to strip away the techno-babble to present an intimate portrait, ‘Steve Jobs’ reveals a seemingly ordinary person with an extraordinary mind.

Developing a passion for technological advances, Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) pushes his theories to the limits.  Helped by friends Joanna (Kate Winslet) and Steve (Seth Rogen), he puts his thoughts into action.  Creating new ways of using computers, his vision sees him become a celebrity.  Preaching to the masses, the computerised religion following his wake reaches an apex.  Soon personal issues threaten to derail his work as the computer age runs towards its zenith.

Directed by Danny Boyle, ‘Steve Jobs’ occasionally offers an intriguing insight into a genius.  Although terrible at personal relationships, his passion for computers shone.  Like most artists of any persuasion, his self-belief in creating his own work of art caused angst with those with whom he dealt.  Boyle’s direction teases out these elements well even if overall ‘Steve Jobs’ doesn’t really work.  Fassbender and Winslet in particular work hard in humanising someone who the history books are already putting into saint-like folklore.

‘Steve Jobs’ falters in the way it tells the story. As usual with biographical films, it assumes certain conversations and events for dramatic purposes.  Sometimes this works although take away his technological talents, Steve Jobs wasn’t as fascinating as others believed.  Basically an emotionally blank-slate, Jobs’ sparse interaction with his friends robs the movie of any impact.  This results in an often slow moving film resorting to long speeches and a jumbled time-line fleetingly showing Jobs at work.

Perhaps one needs to be a die-hard fan of the subject to appreciate ‘Steve Jobs’.  Offering only a modicum of viewing satisfaction, the big screen treatment of his endeavours falls flat.  If he had created an app for making such bio-pics more exciting his skills may have delivered more awe than this stilted film.


 Movie Review Rating out of 10:  6

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.


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Movie Review … Brooklyn

 Based on Colm Toibin’s novel, ‘Brooklyn’ is another lush romantic saga.  Admirers of the Mills and Boon romantic pot-boilers would find much familiar.  Thankfully it isn’t as syrupy with an epic sweep masking any contrived situations.  Chemistry is what’s important which ‘Brooklyn’ has in spades.  Whilst the stirring love-lorn weepies of decades past are gone, what’s in its place isn’t too terrible if one enjoys watching others ride a romantic maelstrom.

Working in a small Irish town, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) dreams of a better life.  Sensing this, her sister sends her to America.  Settling in the city of Brooklyn, filled with a large Irish population, Eilis quickly gains employment and begins a romance with Tony (Emory Cohen).  When a family tragedy occurs, she returns to Ireland where she meets young farmer Jim (Domhnall Gleeson).  Soon her life is torn asunder as she becomes conflicted between two men who appeal to her ravaged heart.

‘Brooklyn’ is an interesting romantic film in that the strong love Ellis feels isn’t necessarily for the men but rather for her old Irish home and her new American one.  Torn between the love of her home country to the new, exciting Brooklyn environs, Ellis has to decide where her heart lies.  The influence of Tony and Jim plays into this as they represent what she likes about both countries.  These elements are very well handled by director John Crowley who uses the locations to their fullest potential.

Although some romantic clich├ęs creep in, ‘Brooklyn’ swiftly settles into its own pattern.  With a strong screenplay drawing you into the situations and solid performances, it moves away from Barbara Cartland territory with ease.  Ronan’s role as Ellis adds authenticity as a young Irish girl reaching maturity in emotion and skill.  You genuinely feel her character’s initial home-sickness and conflicted thoughts.   All of this is effectively done without over-wrought musical cues with the subtle score allowing the strong story to shine.

Better than the usual commercial romantic films recently released ‘Brooklyn’ is worth seeing.  Telling an engaging tale without the bells and whistles of fake emotion, it’s a good entry in an often mawkishly handled genre.


 Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.



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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Movie Review … Spotlight



Investigative journalism currently seems a thing of the past.  With legal threats hanging over reporters and the insatiable lust for instant news, the chance for airing truth is distant.  That’s why it’s refreshing watching ‘Spotlight’.  A trip to the recent past where media moguls didn’t dictate what was said and free of bias, the featured reporters thrive on conveying facts.  Such journalists still exist and hopefully will again appear ready to unearth the truth behind one-sentence headlines.

A deep reporting unit of the Boston Globe newspaper, ‘Spotlight’ takes its time in developing stories.  Among the journalists are Walter (Michael Keaton), Sacha (Rachel McAdams) and Mike (Mark Ruffalo).  When new Editor-in-Chief Marty (Liev Schreiber) wants them to delve into allegations of underage sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, they are initially wary. Soon they discover a web of lies and decades of deception.  Taking on the powerful Catholic hierarchy, the ‘Spotlight’ team aim to reveal the murky underbelly some will hide at any cost.

‘Spotlight’ presents an excellent case for cinematic minimalism.  Free of the histrionics some dramas use, ‘Spotlight’ offers a straight-forward and absorbing narrative. The journalists are there to do their job and discover a cesspool of shocking actions.  A story of the abuse of power and how an institution tries to maintain it shows how a culture of secrecy can easily develop.  The statements from victims are sometimes harrowing to hear, such is a screenplay determined to present the outrageous acts for what they were.

Tom McCarthy’s steady direction ensures ‘Spotlight’ maintains an even pace.  The performers bring much gravitas to their roles, helping McCarthy to show their rage and singular determination in revealing ugly truths.  With the strong screenplay they’re given, they force the viewer to question their own attitudes and amazement at how such crimes could occur.  ‘Spotlight’ isn’t anti-religion despite its central motif but keenly wants to rail against how the exploitation of any authority should never be tolerated.

Less reliant on technological means and more on their analytical skills, the characters of ‘Spotlight’ make it worth watching.  Their efforts can only be applauded and makes one hope such crimes on a huge scale never happen again.

 

Movie Review Rating out of 10:  8

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.

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