I made it to both of my birthday movies and enjoyed the day but one was clearly better than the other for my money. The Martian (2015) has been a big box office success for several weeks now and it’s a pretty good film, however (how many times have you hear this?) the book is better. To me it seemed like they said, “How can we cut this down into a movie?” rather than finding ways to make the story work better as a movie.

Steve Jobs (2015), on the other hand, is also based on a book, but Aaron Sorkin’s great structure and dialogue, along with Danny Boyle’s wonderful direction, make it feel like much more than a truncated version of a biography. Michael Fassbender doesn’t look the part as much as Noah Wyle did in Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999) or Ashton Kutcher in Jobs (2013) but Fassbender’s portrait is better by far. This is a serious, smart, production; it’s what I was hoping to see and I wish I had a copy at home to watch it again.

This is a story of relationships, all centering around Steve Jobs, and playing out through three important days in his career. The web between the Jobs-Wozniak, Jobs-Sculley, and Jobs-Lisa relationships are particularly well woven together to create a fairly conventional narrative arc in a complex tapestry. I have read and seen a great deal about this brilliant, insecure, and iconic figure, but I felt something watching this that I hadn’t before; a connection on a human level to the real man, or who I imagine the real man to have been. Like most of the movies I really enjoy, Steve Jobs isn’t for everyone – it’s never going to make the kind of money that The Martian has already pulled in – but it is certainly worth checking out if you have any interest in the subject.

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