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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Jobs

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad star in a scene from the movie "Jobs."
"Jobs" (Open Road) may not be the worst biographical film ever made. But it certainly earns an unenviable place in the pantheon of lame screen profiles.

Ashton Kutcher, directed by Joshua Michael Stern from a script by Matt Whiteley, portrays Steve Jobs (1955-2011), the founder of the Apple computer empire, as an amoral, monomaniacal tyrant who cheats all who come into contact with him. When he's not abusing co-workers, he's being roundly applauded, in the manner of a Broadway star, on his way to becoming a self-proclaimed technology guru.

The ugly truths about Jobs' self-centered personality have been widely documented. So too has the boardroom battle that briefly ousted him from Apple, only to have him noisily return a few years later, evicting his opponents along the way. That's all here, right down to his annoying habit of always parking in a handicapped spot at corporate headquarters.

No one should expect biographies of highly driven people to show them without flaws or moral compromises. "Jobs," however, fails abysmally at fundamental storytelling.

How did this man get the way he was? It's not here. There's only the outward behavior, which veers wildly between narcissism and schizophrenia.

Especially troubling is the sequence in which Jobs kicks live-in girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan (Ahna O'Reilly) out of his house simply because she's pregnant and he doesn't want to take any responsibility for the baby.

Some years later, we see the child in question, Lisa (Annika Bertea), sleeping on the couch at Jobs' palatial home. How did she get there? We're left to guess.

When not hectoring colleagues, like the strangely faithful Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad), or cheating his co-founders out of stock options as Apple is about to become a publicly traded corporation, Jobs speaks in aphorisms as inspirational music swells. "How does anybody know what they want if they've never even seen it?" he asks.

By the time he's introducing the iPod, his cult of personality is in full force, and he's emitting platitudes such as "When you can touch somebody's heart, that's limitless."

Rival corporations such as IBM and Microsoft appear only in discussions. At one point, Jobs calls up Bill Gates at Microsoft and curses him for allegedly stealing software ideas.

Whatever these two men's respective places in history may turn out to be, the stultifying "Jobs" sadly gives us no more insight into its chosen subject than it does into his unseen rival.

The film contains cohabitation, two scenes of drug use, a couple of instances of profanity and frequent crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Bernard of Clairvaux: Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—“golfer of the century,” “composer of the century,” “right tackle of the century”—that the line no longer has any punch. But Western Europe's “man of the twelfth century,” without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these—and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days. 
<p>In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light. </p><p>His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome, he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know. </p><p>Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope. </p><p>The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster. </p><p>Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.</p> American Catholic Blog One of the things that we need to remember is that we’re preaching Jesus, not the institutional Church. It’s easy to get caught up in the rules and regulations of the institution and forget that we are saved not by the Church but by the person of Jesus or the Church as the body of Christ.

 
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