Gibney Doc dissects the cult of Apple and Jobs

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I’m in the cult. I’ve got an iPhone, iPad, iPod, AppleTV and iPod Shuffle.

I’m  writing this on a MacBook and I streamed “Steve Jobs: The Man In the Machine” using it. It precedes one film, starring Michael Fassender as Jobs, later this one, and follows another, starring Ashton Kutcher.

stevejJobs “made everything,” says an impassioned kid into the camera on his computer following Jobs death in 2011 ten years after he introduced the iPod, four years after the first iPhone and one year after the iPad.

Jobs spent his early years as the barbarian at the gate flipping off IBM. He didn’t make everything but developed “great beautiful products” with a Zen aesthetic “that made the world better.”

Apple was “the 21st century bicycle.” Its technology was personal. It felt “warm in your hand.”

Director Alex Gibney, who narrates, talks about reflexively feeling for the computer that is his iPhone in his pocket, “like Frodo’s hand to the ring.”

This association between humanity and technology, man and machine of  is one of Jobs greatest accomplishments and was probably the reason he was universally and globally mourned like Princess Di or JFK. He put the I, the us, into technology.

But Gibney’s clear-eyed and even-handed film also reveals Jobs many missteps. Personally he spurned his daughter and negotiated to pay his first girlfriend $500 a month in alimony despite being worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Professionally he terminated philanthropy at Apple, was party to tax fraud and allowed unsavory environmental and workplace practices. Video shows Jobs testifying in lawsuits.

It’s great to be king but it allows you to “do things that would be heinous” if they were done by anyone else.

And yet the Apple myth that Jobs created persists even after his death. But Gibney, who is something of a machine himself having already directed docs on Sinatra and Scientology this year,  concludes that demand fo each new Apple product or update – like the next iPhone tweak – says as much about us as about him.

Produced by Alex Gibney, Viva Van Loock. Written and directed by Alex Gibney. Rated R: language. Approximately 128 minutes.

*** Three stars

 

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