Jobs & Grandma
Steve Jobs: the Man in the Machine delivers a litany of allegations about the person who created much of what is good in the world in which we live. Just glance anywhere you go, on the street, in stores, in cars and you see people buried deep in their smartphones or similar electronic devices. All these are the brainchild of Jobs (with a little help from his friends).
Jobs was a dedicated thinker with unfortunate social habits. As detailed by director Alex Gibney the man was caught in a machine of his own aspirations and constantly brought down to Earth by his overestimation of his own importance. Gibney pulls no punches and yet at the end of the film he closes with the image of a blank phone screen. As the director’s visage seen on the screen fades in and out of an image of Job’s face Gibney asks how much of our own psyche identifies with the persona of the Apple chief. At the end of the day don’t we all want to be the person inside the machine?
Jobs starts out as a brilliant young programmer who, along with Steve Wozniak, sells a video game to Atari that they programmed and wrote in record time. Jobs splits with Woz half the fee - $350. Later Woz finds out the real amount of the check was $7000. Jobs’ morality goes downhill from there.
By the time Jobs is a self-made millionaire he’s denied responsibility for his out of wedlock daughter, and has to be sued by his one time high school girlfriend for childcare. I don’t want to list all of the bullet points of Gibney’s portrait of the man in the machine since that is what makes this powerful documentary tick. But suffice it to say there are some stock manipulation schemes under Jobs’ watch that would make a Wall Street maven’s head spin.
This is just one movie exploring that man and the myth that is Steve Jobs. The narrative feature Jobs (Ashton Kutcher is a dead ringer for Jobs) came out in 21013 and next month the Danny Boyle helmed Steve Jobs promises more fireworks based on Jobs’ life.
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine unwinds exclusively starting this weekend at the Sundance Cinemas Houston.
Another exclusive engagement waiting to be discovered is the Lily Tomlin tour de force Grandma, playing at the River Oaks Three.
Tomlin has been a strong presence in television, movies and on stage for decades so it’s no surprise that she can headline a movie. The astonishment is the depth of ugliness that Tomlin mines in her portrayal of a mean spirited old lass who lost touch with compassion a long time ago. This grandma is a real dick to everybody.
Judy Greer, Marcia Gay Harden, Elizabeth Peña (in one of her last roles), Sam Elliott, and amazing newcomer Julia Garner co-star in what is essentially a character piece about a curmudgeonly elderly lady who has all but cut the last ties to her past. At times you identify with Tomlin in the sense that she is oppressed by society because of her age and merely smarts off to all around her as a kind of survival defense mechanism. Nope, she’s just a mean old hag that in a parallel universe would be a wicked witch.
Then you think Tomlin might see the light of redemption as she seeks out old friends to reconcile their old differences. Yet again no, as you realize her past transgressions have terminally burnt bridges.
The plot takes place in a single day as Tomlin drives her granddaughter from place to place trying to raise money for the latter’s abortion. There’s never a question that Tomlin is pro-choice, but she’s also a prolific asshole who has never come to terms with her path in life. Good films can be about bad people.
— Michael Bergeron