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Four takeaways from 'Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine'

Leah Yamshon | Sept. 7, 2015
While Danny Boyle’s biopic Steve Jobs plays at the Telluride Film Festival last weekend, reviews are coming out for the wider release of the Alex Gibney–directed documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine.

Very disappointed in SJ:Man in the Machine. An inaccurate and mean-spirited view of my friend. It’s not a reflection of the Steve I knew.

— Eddy Cue (@cue) March 16, 2015

Also missing: Steve Wozniak and Jobs’s children, though we do hear an essay from his daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs. Lisa’s mother, Chrisann Brennan, was interviewed, sharing snippets from her child support battle with Jobs and his thwarted efforts to deny paternity. She also shares that Jobs wanted to name their daughter Claire, which she later learned was the name he had chosen for Apple’s next computer. Jobs changed the computer’s name after he and Brennan had chosen a name for their daughter—the Apple Lisa. 

Jobs had complicated relationships with his friends

It’s no secret that Jobs’ passion made him difficult to work with at times, and the film’s one-on-one interviews with Jobs’ former colleagues and friends just confirm this further. You’ll hear stories of Jobs controlling his relationships with the press. You’ll hear another story about how Steve took an employee’s resignation as an opportunity to put him on blast for messing up a product. Yet, all of them recognized Jobs’ brilliance and passion, and seemed to genuinely like and admire him despite some of these conflicts. 

The most captivating interview was with Bob Belleville, Director of Engineering at Apple from 1982 to 1985. He admitted that working at Apple consumed his life and destroyed his marriage. Yet, he still looks at his time with Jobs as an incredible moment in his life, breaking down into tears as he read a private obituary he wrote for Jobs in 2011 out loud.

The film contains never-before-seen deposition footage 

The transcripts of Jobs’ SEC interviews have been publicly available for a while, but before this film was made, the footage had only been seen in court. Gibney gained access to this footage and threads it throughout the film, where we see a visibly irritated Jobs tackle the SEC’s questions about Apple’s practice of backdating stocks for employees. He answers every question asked, but he is obviously not happy about being there.

Gizmodo felt bullied following the iPhone 4 leak

Gibney sat down with Jason Chen, Jesus Diaz, and Brian Lam to hear Gizmodo’s side of the infamous iPhone 4 leak story—you remember that one, where someone found an early iPhone 4 prototype in a bar and sold it to Gizmodo. Chen tells a pretty harrowing tale: A few days after he personally returned the iPhone to Apple, he came home to find a team of police raiding his house and seizing a lot of his personal stuff, under a warrant. The police task force was from California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team, a team rumored to be in the back pockets of major Silicon Valley companies to perform corporate investigations.

 

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