As a straight biography of the man, Danny Boyle's "Steve Jobs" is woefully neglect. As a pulsating backstage drama play to some of the most influential electronics products of the past half century- complete with conniving secondary characters, tainted relationships, high tension, and some serious daddy/daughter issues- it's a masterpiece. And honestly, how many more straight biopics do we really need? By capturing all the promotional hysteria and personal conflicts in three distinct realms of Steve Jobs' influential life (1984, 1988 and 1998), the film tightens its focus on the almost maniacal side of Jobs. Unrelenting in his purpose, unable to glorify anyone else but himself and yet still slicing up shimmers of humanity and emotional grandeur within him, Boyle and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin have crafted a film that zings with intelligence while maintaining a three-dimensional sense of the man. One may not like Jobs (brought to life by an Oscar worthy performance by Michael Fassbender), but it's a film that demands our attention and dares to steer away from the obvious inventions of the mind and instead examine the mechanism of power, regret, ownership and forgiveness.
What could be more invigorating and informative than James Marsh's 2008 documentary "Man On Wire" about the tightrope walk of French performance artist Philippe Petit? Not much. So it seems a bit reductive (and borderline insulting) when Robert Zemeckis takes A-list actor Joseph Gordon Levitt, who is usually quite good, and dresses him up in faux 70's clothes and lets him run wild with an awful French accent in retelling the same events. Shrouded in 3D imagery and green screen theatrics, even the final third of the film which deals with the vertigo inducing walk between the Twin Towers, falls flat as if the film has morphed into some sort of Disney-like drama fun for the whole family. Terrible.
Khalik Allah's "Field Niggas" was one of the last films to play at Dallas VideoFest last weekend, given a late Sunday night time slot because, frankly, not many people would probably know what to do with it. Sheer visual poetry in every sense of the word, Allah's mesmerizing hour long film would make a terrific art exhibit as well. Following the aimless, nocturnal denizens of homeless and scattered people on the streets of New York City, Allah plays with sound and image. Sometimes the people on-screen are the ones talking, but more often than not, its just the voices of the night overlapped onto the brightly saturated faces of those who happen to be in front of the camera. Holding steadfast on their scarred, weary and disquieted bodies, "Field Niggas" is a lament for those who don't have a voice, wandering the rainy night and rambling about police brutality, life on the streets and the daily grind of survival.