In my post, The Killing Mood, I talk about how THE KILLING was heavy emotionally because it not only focused on the detectives hunting for the killer but also delved into the hole that murder leaves in a family. And the only way that I know how to do that is to get really intimate with the affected people dealing with their pain, memories, guilt and regrets of their last ragged encounter with the dead.
I had read reviews of jOBS, the biopic about the famed Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs. Ashton Kutcher, from all the reviews I'd seen, stated to some degree that he had done a great job imitating Jobs, but the movie itself didn't do anything to add to what fanboys already know. I think the main issue here is lack of intimacy.
Now you may say, "You haven't even seen the movie." Correctamundo, as Michaelangelo would say, the ninja turtle.
But I've seen enough biopics, even Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, to know that most don't do the subject justice because they try and fit too many things, eventually diminishing the whole person down to a book report written in bad grammar.
This is where movies like Fruitvale Station and Lincoln excel. Both deal with huge issues, in this case racism, from an intimate point of view of the character. I'm not sure if the fact that both characters die at the end that makes it more intimate, but since many who've I've talked to about Lincoln wished there were more action makes me think that's not the case. It is called Lincoln not Let's See Some Civil War Killins.
jOBS, I think, fails in regards to intimacy. In writing, especially storytelling, there's a term called rooting, where the creator emotionally roots the characters to their readers or audience. This can be done through tragedy, an example is my prologue, through teaching someone something new, The Karate Kid, or the sacrifice of oneself, 300. I know. But I loved that movie. The inherent problem with trying to show a life story is showing the life story. We can't get a sense of who these people really are because the storyteller is moving through the events quickly to get everything in.
When any story tries to cover long periods of time, it loses touch, and as a result, loses their audience. That's why most fictional stories focus on important events and rarely dive into the life and times of so and so. It's the tenet of fiction, write about the important stuff, cut everything else.
The Sony film on Steve Jobs is being written by Aaron Sorkin, who wrote The Social Network and one of my favorites, The Newsroom. He has stated that his script will center on backstage events of three Apple product launches.
At first I was taken aback...and beaten. Then I realized that's pretty ingenious. It allows us to get real intimate with Jobs the person, and since so much of him bled into his professionalism--his crying, temper tantrums, bullying, and the like--we should get to see many facets of this master marketer. And this is what biopics try and show anyway, who the person is, at least from the storyteller's point of view.