As it passes from Fincher to Boyle, Jobs misses the chance to be a Social Network companion piece.
David Fincher has passed on Sony’s Steve Jobs biopic, and nobody is more pissed off than my editor. But I’m close to being on his level (of pissed off-ness), so it’s only fair that I take on this article, my editor feeling that his copy would only be a tirade of incoherent “FUCK!”s. Our chagrin(s)? They are both similar and different, so just keep in mind that what follows is an amalgamation – a merger, if you will – of our difficulties in accepting the fact that Danny Boyle, overrated and overhyped, looks set to take over as director.
Boyle is a decent director lifted into positions of greatness by people too easily impressed, people who overestimate his importance
A disclaimer: I don’t actually hate Boyle. I just don’t much like him either. With the exception of Trainspotting, which I’ll admit to really admiring, I can’t think of a single film of Boyle’s I have enjoyed or cared about. Not Slumdog Millionaire, which seemed to skate over the whole poverty issue it so vehemently claimed to support; not 127 Hours, which left me a little shoulder-shrugged, a little underwhelmed, especially so after I’d been told the ‘notorious’ (it isn’t) arm severing scene was so ‘powerful’ (it wasn’t); and certainly not The Beach, which I’ll get to later.
Sunshine is decent, and so is 28 Days Later. And that’s the problem: Boyle is decent. A decent director lifted into positions of greatness by people too easily impressed, by people who overestimate his importance on account of him being British. The fact remains, then, that his filmography to date, Trainspotting aside, leaves a little to be desired. I’d wager that in 20 years most will be, maybe not forgotten, but certainly not greatly remembered. No, not even Slumdog Millionaire, Oscars and all.
David Fincher, on the other hand, is a certified master, one of the four contemporary American directors currently working who can realistically be bracketed as great, who can realistically be mentioned in the same breath as the greatest. (The others, in case you were wondering: the Coens, Paul Thomas Anderson and David O. Russell.) Saying that, though, I’ve always felt that Fincher gets overlooked, that he perhaps isn’t as appreciated as he should be; but just look at his filmography to date.
Fincher’s Jobs could’ve been a companion piece to his Social Network, the second part of a pair of films about the modern age
To name a few, Fincher’s filmography contains one of the finest, most original horror-thrillers of all time (Se7en), the most gorgeous looking thriller, or even film, in recent memory (Zodiac), and the most important American picture of the last decade (The Social Network). As a stylist, Fincher is a visual master, a formalist through and through. You get the sense that nothing on screen is accidental or arbitrary, that everything is set up to perfection. The Social Network, that morality play of a film, was so much more than a film about Facebook and instead a kind-of Greek tragedy, a parable of the perils of greed, trust, friendship; of lust, wealth, riches, ideas.
But then, it is about Facebook, too: about its phenomena and power and being, about its hold, its destructive yet brilliant nature. O what a companion piece Fincher’s Jobs could have been: the second part of a pair of films that deal explicitly with the modern age, that look intricately at two of the great men of it. Indeed, with The Social Network, scribe Aaron Sorkin again charged with penning the screenplay, there would have been even more chance for Fincher to work his magic, theirs an alliance that worked perhaps as well as any writer-director combination ever has. Consider too, the fact that Fincher, though mainly shooting the typing of code, and Sorkin, though chiefly writing in computer jargon, somehow managed to craft and pace a film that played out, at times, like a thriller. I’ll say it again: O what a companion piece Fincher’s Jobs could have been.
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Remember I said I’d come back to The Beach? Well, who was Boyle’s lead in that awful, awful film? And who is in talks to play the eponymous Jobs? You got it. Now, as I’ve said before on Screen Robot, I like Leonardo DiCaprio. Granted, I have a few issues with him, but still, mainly, I dig him. What I don’t dig is that, in playing Steve Jobs, Leo will be doing more of the same: playing a real-life figure in the hope of awards glory.
Imagine Bale, today’s most prominent shape-shifter, playing Jobs. Say what you want about DiCaprio, but chameleon he ain’t
What I also don’t dig is that Fincher’s choice for Jobs, Christian Bale, now looks set to, well, not be him. O imagine Bale, today’s most prominent shape-shifter, playing three versions of Jobs (Sorkin’s script is rumoured to depict three parts of his life). That’s Bale as a long-haired hippie type; Bale as a balding old patriarch. Say what you want about DiCaprio but, good as he can be, chameleon he ain’t. I’ll say it again: O what a companion piece Fincher’s Jobs could have been.
Of course, this is all subjective, and Boyle’s film – should he end up helming it – could turn out to be a good one, perhaps even a great one. I doubt it will be anything more than just decent, though, and my editor, unable to fully articulate his feelings as he chokes on his incoherent FUCKs, will no doubt hate it. And so it is then, that I, we, you, them, all the lovers of David Fincher and The Social Network, will always be left wondering what his version would have looked like. Once more: O what a companion piece Fincher’s Jobs could have been.
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Featured image: Ben Stanfield (via Flickr)
Inset images: Pathe; Columbia