Magazine article Variety

Kristopher Tapley: In Contention

Magazine article Variety

Kristopher Tapley: In Contention

Article excerpt

It's perhaps appropriate that a film called "Truth" is gearing up for this year's awards race, with other movies on the circuit already weathering the usual criticisms regarding the dramatization of real-life events.

At the Telluride Film Festival, "Steve Jobs" screenwriter Aaron Sorkin got out in front of the fact that the Danny Boyle-directed biopic doesn't necessarily present things accurately. "Art isn't about what happened," Sorkin said at the time. "You can see a very good piece of journalism about him." The goal, he said, was to make a "painting" rather than a "photograph."

Similarly, last season, Ava DuVernay's "Selma" was blindsided by criticisms over accuracy late in the year, kicking off a cycle of pieces that didn't help its chances. We're also three years removed from the unprecedented congressional takedown of "Zero Dark Thirty" on the grounds that, according to politicos anyway, the film incorrectly asserted that information crucial to finding Osama bin Laden was obtained through torture. This kind of truth shaming is happening so often that one has to wonder if the "Steve Jobs" press patter at such an early stage in the campaign is a preemptive strike by filmmakers to define the talking points.

In any event, it didn't stop Apple CEO Tim Cook from criticizing the film sight unseen, and implicating similarly themed projects as well, like Alex Gibney's documentary "Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine" and Joshua Michael Stern's "Jobs," starring Ashton Kutcher. In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Cook said the Jobs he knew "was an amazing human," and fairly bristled at reports of the not-so-nice version of the man presented by actor Michael Fassbender in Boyle's film.

While it depends whose version of the truth you prefer, it's clear that the filmmakers were not interested in recounting a standard-issue list of greatest hits. …

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