Steve Jobs is an extremely well written film – as you would expect of Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, Social Network, etc). The dramatic intensity never lets up, and there’s a proper beginning, middle and end. It runs over two hours, but you really don’t notice – and want it to carry on. In fact, it’s masterfully done, organised around three acts and a set of themes and motifs that shift their relative importance with each act (the Walkman, the need to start product launches on time, the importance of image, being an adopted child, the position of friends, etc).
Michael Fassbender plays the eponymous Mr Jobs and does a fine job – mixing wide-eyed genius with cynical businessperson. It’s a delicate balance that would elude many an actor. Kate Winslett (as the long-suffering assistant to Jobs) is just as mesmerising and easily matches Fassbender. Finally, Seth Rogen plays Steve Wozniak magnificently, representing the hippy, open-system approach/philosophy to computing that was so at odds with Jobs’s closed system obsession.
So, this is a movie for geeks, people fascinated by the nature of genius, business-minded people and people who love a well-told human drama. Trust me: there aren’t gonna be many better films this year (and I say that with Star Wars in the offing!). It’s an 8.5 out of 10 from me.
Well, the panel I was on, ‘Religion in fantasy’, was the best attended of the three days. A bigger audience than for the interview of the guest of honour the day before. My panel was scheduled for 10am on the Sunday, when any right-minded audience should have been in church. LOL. But here’s the thing – religion had been the elephant in the room for the whole event. The panel was the ‘elephant-panel’ really. And it was a great discussion, with such luminaries as Juliet E McKenna and John Connolly, to boot.
More important than all that, though, was I got myself a couple of small book deals for next year. Phew. Cos I was wondering where the next ISBN would come from. So I’m working on a follow-up collection to The Book of Orm and a rather splendid novella (yes, I do say so myself). The Orm follow-up may feature some big-name authors, but that’s still in discussion. And then I’m meeting Canelo Publishing in London soon – Lifer might yet see the light of day!
A straightforward storyline this one, which is no bad thing at all. It had pace, moments of character empathy, tension, peril and insight. Maisie Williams (Arya Stark in Game of Thrones) puts in a brilliant turn as a Viking lass who ultimately develops into some alien-human hybrid. The Doctor changes her in looking to save her, you see. He then begins to worry that he’s made a huge mistake: ‘Ah well, Time will judge.’ There are some great lines in this episode, and Odin puts in a turn too! Tell you what, Marvel could learn a lot from watching this episode. And Clara is good too – new nuances to her relationship with the Doctor are delivered, and all very credibly. Entirely refreshing. (There was an odd plot moment, in that clearly the electric eels should have been used to restart the Viking girl’s heart, but something must have changed during editing.) Well done to all involved.
Consider the sentence below and decide whether (taken in isolation) it represents ‘good’ or ‘bad’ writing:
He spoke to the rebarbative guy.
Answer: it’s awful. Our question of course has to be what makes it so bad. Well, it’s bad in a whole variety of ways, ways which it is important for any developing writer to appreciate and understand, ways which I shall attempt to describe below.
So, Marlon James has just won the Booker Prize. However, the splendid ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ was rejected by 27 publishers before it got a deal. What does that tell you?
So, I’ve done a chapter in the splendid book just put out by Salt Publishing: ‘The Art of the Novel’. It’s a full-proof/fool-proof guide to scribbling, init.
A great survivalist, problem-solving movie, this one. Poor old Matt Damon is marooned on Mars. It actually starts out as an action movie (with a tense and exciting first 20mins), and many will be expecting some sort of Ridley Scott space opera, but it then becomes a tense running-out-of-time-and-resources affair.
The movie isn’t perfect. There are some scenes that don’t really go anywhere and are simple expositions on the whole physics of what’s going on. There are way too many characters (many of whom simply don’t have names). And there is a lack of true moral conflict at the heart of things. But this film has a big heart nonetheless. The characterisation really is very good (and avoids trite family references). The detail and realism are second to none. This stuff IS going to happen to our species in the next few years. You really do wonder ‘Would I be able to survive if put in this situation?’.
Very enjoyable and edge-of-the-seat stuff. 8.5 out of 10 from me. Highly recommended! Get yourself a one-way ticket.