One of the more pleasant activities of Summer in Sydney is to go to the Open Air Cinema at Farm Cove. The view is spectacular as the sun sets, incorporating the Opera House and Bridge, fruit bats flying above and then as the screen rises above the water, hundreds of smart phones making a video; all compounded by a glass of pinot gris.
Two weeks ago we went to a preview of the new Steve Jobs film starring Michael Fassbinder and Kate Winslet. The film is opening in Sydney on 4 February having had a chequered opening in the US last October. While the fans may have disliked it Kate Winslet and scriptwriter Andrew Sorken did win Golden Globes. I actually enjoyed it, unlike my wife. However having been involved with computers since 1967 and also having extensively blogged about about Steve Jobs my pleasure is understandable.
The film is set in three acts each culminating in Steve Jobs presenting keynotes to fervent fans. Each act is filmed in a different formats: grainy 16mm film for 1984, lustrous 35mm for 1988, and sleek, high-definition digital for 1998. During each act Sorkin has Jobs interacting with his co-founder Woziak, John Scully and his ex-partner Chrisaan Brennan and his daughter Lisa. The criticism of film rests on two planks: it portrays Steve Jobs as jerk and does not portray his good points and Sorkin takes too many liberties with the actual timing of historical events. For example Joanna Hoffman (played by Kate Winslet), was at Jobs side before each of these keynotes but actually had left Apple long before Jobs returned to launch the iMac in 1998
The film did not change my assessment of Steve Jobs; he is a wonderful Artist-Hustler. This is a very strong individualist who is shrewd and manipulative and schemes for personal advantage. There is a built in conflict here, because the need to accumulate goods and money is strong, but the individual also wants to be creative and has a sensitive streak that ‘feels’ for others, understands them well and yet is tempted to use this to their own advantage. As a result, they can at times be very sensitive and understanding with others, but can then also become quite selfish and ‘offhand’ or brusque in the way they treat them at other times. Although they are family oriented and others may think they know them well, this person is basically a loner and prefers their own company. They will mix with others when it serves their purpose (such as in a work environment) but are hard to get close and while they may have a number of acquaintances, ‘friends’ will be few and most relationships will be superficial and developed to suit their own ends. In effect, they will be somewhat ‘inscrutable’ and hard for others to read or understand. They, on the other hand, will have a good understanding of other people and will use it for business or personal gain. In business, they will be seen as very affable and can be quite successful in self-employment. They are not interested in being responsible for others, are not really suited to line management positions and are best in independent, creative work roles where they are accountable only for their own performance. A person with this temperament style is a true loner with a Machiavellian outlook and the potential to be quite creative, particularly at making money or developing better business opportunities.
Sorkin captured this brilliantly in the 1988 launch of the Next computer. At one point Joanna says she loves Steve because he is not interested in money. However just before going on stage Jobs tells Joanna Hoffman that he has a diabolical master plan: He will use NeXT (indeed, he will ensure its failure) to create an operating system that Apple will have to buy for half a billion dollars, giving him back the control of the company he founded. Whether true or not this is how a highly intelligent Artist-Hustler thinks.
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