Monday, February 07, 2011

pirates of silicon valley

what on earth would ordinary people want with computers?


it's the early seventies and college buddies steve jobs (noah wyle) and steve wozniak (joey slotnick) are engaging in revolutionary behaviour of a different variety to to their peers. they building computers for personal use, as tools for everyone, not just corporations and big business. after some initial success, they start a company: apple computers. meanwhile, bill gates (anthony michael hall) is working with a classmate and a school friend, steve ballmer (john di maggio) and paul allen (josh hopkins), developing a computer language that will allow what are currently just boxes of microchips, to function. after some initial success, they start a company: microsoft.

well, this was a fun watch. as an antidote to 'the social network', i decided to watch martyn burke's tv movie adaptation of freiberger and swaine's 'fire in the valley: the making of the personal computer' book. whilst facebook is all very well and good, remove it from the world and we'd all be fine; would the same be true if we remove the work accomplished by apple and microsoft? i doubt it...

now, whilst 'the social network' sits two hearings next to each other to tell the story of zuckerberg's chair stealing, 'pirates of silicon valley' juxtaposes the characters of jobs and gates against each other. jobs, is played rather fantastically by the super likeable noah wyle as someone who one can't help but despise: an awful, pretentious, ex-hippy, turned slave driving egomaniac. luckily for him, he has the fluffy and friendly wozniak as a foil. wozniak has claimed that all the depictions of the personalities in the film (if not all the facts) are accurate. hell, if i'd been portrayed in the same light, i'd say the same...

gates, is amazingly portrayed by anthony michael hall with a touch of 'gary wallace all grown up', mixed in with ambition and cunning. yep, basically, his dorkiness and drive actually make gates likeable - at least when he is put up against jobs, who you kinda want bad things to happen to.

"all cars have steering wheels, but no one tries to claim that the steering wheel was their invention."

so, yeah, a much more enjoyable watch and a narrative that is actually historically significant and interesting. not just some flavour of the month bullshit, with a fine young actor fooling audiences into thinking that they are watching a great film, as opposed to a great performance. this isn't a great film, but it is good and it's certainly better than chair that fincher gave us to sit on. or, should that be steering wheel?

good stuff.

the dvd is $13.67 from dvdpacific.com

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