We have a cultural obsession with Steve Jobs. We quote Jobs like we do philosophers or poets. And now, we have another movie about him. This newest biopic, uniquely structured and well written, tackles Jobs’s inflated celebrity and corrosive personality, only to prop it all back up at the end. Admittedly, deeper commentary on celebrity is a peculiar issue for a biopic. After all, it’s a movie that hopes to sell as many tickets as possible by exposing us even more intimately to Jobs—an approach which only feeds his already mammoth celebrity. But by showing us a broken, albeit brilliant, Jobs, Danny Boyle takes us well past idolatry.
My dad grew up in Miami Beach in the late 50s and early 60s. He told me about the duck and cover drills they ran every day in elementary school. He told me that, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, they’d duck and cover twice or three times a day. He told me there was no fear, only anxiety. ‘If’ was a forgone conclusion, but ‘when’ drove everyone nuts. In Spielberg’s newest film, the Cold War historical drama, Bridge of Spies, there’s no genuine anxiety. There isn’t even real fear. There’s simply a story of the ultimate, incorruptible American hero. The Cold War atmosphere just feels obligatory.
Full disclosure: I’ve never read Andy Weir’s The Martian, the novel from which Ridley Scott’s newest film by the same name was adapted. I have no idea how strictly Scott stuck to the novel’s plot and characters, or if the only thing he took from Weir was the title. Maybe, if I’d read the book, I’d have known how silly the movie was going to be. Maybe, but who knows.
Sicario is a shoot ‘em up. A run ‘n gun. I was ready for good ole’ God-fearing American law enforcement versus the barbaric Mexican cartels and corrupt Mexican cops. But Denis Villenueve, Sicario’s director, understands how badly this could go. How America-centric, clumsy, or downright racist this could be. Yet the only misstep in this movie is the sometimes brooding, Nolan-esque score. Otherwise it’s decidedly something worth seeing, an action-thriller with a social conscience. To top it off, Villenueve has a killer aesthetic, throwing thermal-sight drone shots and desert dusk together without making you think twice about it.