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Friday, October 19, 2012

The Gospel of Steve Jobs: Review of The Lost Interview

The Gospel of Steve Jobs The Lost Interview reveals Apple’s prophet on the eve of his greatest comeback BY DON WALLACE | AUG 15, 2012 THE HONOLULU WEEKLY Who is Philo T. Farnsworth? That few know or care to find out illustrates the difference between a technology prophet and a marketing genius who happens to work in tech. Raised in a log cabin in Utah, Farnsworth, at age 14, read a bunch of early electronics magazines and sketched out the principles and design of television. By his 21st birthday he’d produced a working version. His inventions and patents are still used, but he never got rich and died destitute. Steve Jobs, on the other hand, was raised in affluent Palo Alto, bicycling as a boy past the labs of such technology powerhouses as Stanford University, Hewlett-Packard, Fairchild and Shockley Semiconductor and Xerox PARC. As a teenager he visited all of them. In high school he worked in an electronics store, where he ordered a kit computer (the only kind then available to the consumer) and with a pal decided to assemble the kits and sell them. It took Jobs awhile to figure out that you needed a markup to make any money. Once he did, though, the legendary founder of Apple was on his way to fame and glory and, upon his death earlier this year, virtual deification. The Lost Interview, so named because the master tape was lost after a single excerpt appeared on a local television screening in 1995, gives us Jobs explaining himself and his beliefs without mediation or talking-head translation. I approached it skeptically–why would the Doris Duke Theatre want to present what was basically an unadorned 72-minute TV show?–and came away provoked and unexpectedly touched. Here is the dethroned King, 10 years after being humiliated and forced out of Apple by the Pepsi-Cola CEO John Scully, whose boneheaded leadership has put the company 60 days away from bankruptcy. Nobody, including Jobs, has any idea that within a year he will return to Apple. The man speaking is Lear without his kingdom, Napoleon on Elba. Yet he’s not bitter (though his remarks about Scully are priceless examples of the gentle art of verbal murder). He’s inspired and wry and, as the show progresses, more and more mind-boggling. What drives him, even in exile, is not at all what you think–despite all the thousands of words and programs devoted to his life and achievements. Jobs was not a coder, not an engineer, and, despite having his name on over 300 patents (all shared with engineers and designers), not a true inventor. And he’s okay with that. What drives him, what emerges again and again, in his life and his words in this film, is coolness. Not wearing-the-right-jeans coolness. Not even gotta-have-the-It-gadget coolness, though that is what makes Apple products so popular and profitable. Jobs (and his partner, Steve Wozniak) simply had a yen for the way things work, particularly if they could be used in subversive and daring ways. They liked making things happen–even if it took breaking the law (as in their earliest product, a phone hacking device), especially if it meant disrupting and destroying an entire industry that wasn’t in your purview (the iPod). I won’t give away the single thing that Jobs says drives him, because it comes near the end of a very entertaining journey. If you want to start a company, create anything, raise kids for the 21st century, ponder where the future is taking us, you’ll want to take the trip. And when future generations ask the Philo Farnsworth question about Steve Jobs, the best answer will be found in these 72 minutes.

Films to Try Our Souls: Reviews of Devil's Dosh, The Land of Eb, and Nuclear Savage

FROM THE HONOLULU WEEKLY: Films to Try Our Souls Don’t miss two films about the Marshall Islands (and Hawai‘i’s latest immigrants) plus a short long on British traditional violence BY DON WALLACE | OCT 10, 2012 Location truly is everything: Need an island paradise just north of the tropics (to avoid that pesky mosquito-borne malaria) and accessible by Boeing 707, the first tourist jet aircraft? Here’s Hawaii for your profit and pleasure. Need a remote atoll to test atomic and hydrogen bombs, out of sight and mind? Try the Marshalls, just down the block and to the left. Don’t bother to knock: Just walk right in and make yourself at home. Of such twists of fate are tragedies, and documentaries, made. To find out what became of the poisoned Marshalls and their poisoned people after 67 detonations, Adam Horowitz began, back in 1986, to shoot film and take notes for his documentary Nuclear Savage. This is part of our local legacy now, thanks to the Federal Government expressing some shame at last and agreeing to give the Marshallese unfettered immigration and free healthcare. First stop, naturally, is Hawaii; and so, apparently, is last stop. (And the government appropriated no money for health care, after all, so the state is stuck with it.) A portrait of a Marshallese community on the Big Island, The Land of Eb is a fictional film by Andrew Williamson that uses real people, including lead actor/producer Jonithen Jackson, to create a documentary-like tragedy about one family’s life in Kau’s Ocean View Estates. Nobody gets off easy; and, by the way, that locally-sourced coffee you’re savoring is implicated, too. These films explain why, like it or not, our island fates are now entwined. (Showtimes: Nuclear Savage: Thu., 10/18, 9:15 p.m., Dole Cannery C; The Land of Eb: Sun.,10/14, 6:30 p.m., Dole Cannery B; 10/21, 5:30 p.m., Dole Cannery D.) Another kind of savagery is on brilliant display in The Devil’s Dosh, which reveals the dark Satanic mill of the sex industry in charming old Liverpool. Notwithstanding that Zachary Guerra’s debut is, at 28 minutes long, one of the shorter films in the Hawaii International Film Festival lineup, it is one of the best made in terms of storytelling, cinematography and set design. Set in a slum bordello in a time that may be the early 1900s, it seems lit by gaslight, so that its scenes take place in cozy gold-hued snow globes. The characters are bordello types: the girls, the punters (as the English call johns), the cruel male enforcer, the even crueler mada and her cringing teenage son, Marcus, who takes the first step toward his destiny as an infamous crime lord. At the swirling, Dickensian start you might think you’re in for a risque Downton Abbey, sexy titillation spiced with a touch of Jack the Ripper. But what Guerra has written and directed with extraordinary panache is a nightmare of Bruegelian proportions, no sooner setting up our expectations for a little leisurely jaunt in a more golden age than bludgeoning them in one scene after another, so that there is no chance to catch your breath or change your mind before sensing the doors close behind you. What Guerra is saying about sexual exploitation and the society in which it thrives goes well beyond morality, approaching forensics. He makes his point through violence, but not the easy, ironic kind of a Tarantino or a slasher flick; he makes it sickening. But if we look away, it feels dishonest, as if we’re asking for a little sugar to sprinkle on our voyeuristic fantasies. The Devil’s Dosh is constructed as an invitation to financial backers or even Hollywood for the wherewithal to flesh itself out into full length feature. It deserves that; but delivers lethality in this smaller dose, perhaps a refraction of former Kaneohe-based Navy pilot Guerra’s experience in the Iraq War. (Screening Oct. 12 at 5:45 p.m. at Dole Cannery F.)