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Hey, that's Steve Jobs!

September 10, 2015 14:23 IST

In Danny Boyle's biopic, reports Aseem Chhabra from the Telluride Film Festival, 'we are left with Jobs -- the man, a genius as well as (what Steve Wozniak calls him in the film), an asshole!'

Eight years ago, Danny Boyle came to the Telluride Film Festival with a film that everyone -- including the filmmaker, his producer and distributor -- were uncertain about.

But the success of Slumdog Millionaire with the Telluride audience convinced Boyle and his backers that they had a potential winner with them.

Boyle is back (for the third time) at Telluride, this time as a guest being recognised for his contribution to cinema.

Clips from his major films -- Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, 127 Hours and concluding with the Jai Ho! song from Slumdog Millionaire -- screened at the festival.

This time, Boyle has brought his latest film to Telluride -- the Aaron Sorkin-scripted biopic Steve Jobs.

The film takes liberties with the story of Jobs (played with much gusto by Michael Fassbender, seen above), but it is so well written, directed and acted, that it is certainly one of the most exciting works I have watched.

The film plays like a theatre piece -- three acts, each associated with a new product announcement that Jobs made in his career.

There is much drama, and very Sorkin-like dialogues, as before each announcement Jobs encounters characters from his past -- Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), John Scully (Jeff Daniels), Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), his ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterson) and their daughter Lisa, playing three stages of her life.

The film takes us through Jobs' anxieties of being an adopted child and his learning about his biological father, thanks to efforts by his sister Mona Simpson.

But mostly we are left with Jobs -- the man, a genius as well as (what Wozniak calls him in the film), an asshole!

***

Taking Krishna and Hanuman to Telluride

IMAGE: A scene from Sanjay's Super Team.

There is more of India and South Asia at this year's Telluride Film Festival. 

Sanjay Patel, a 41-year-old animator with Pixar, is showing his remarkable animated short Sanjay's Super Team.

The deeply personal story about a Gujarati-American kid and his father already has Oscar buzz behind it.

Given Pixar's tradition of winning Oscars practically every year, there is a good chance Patel will be up on the stage to receive the golden statuette.

In introducing the film, Patel talked about his childhood, and not understanding his immigrant father and his passion for Hindu gods, until he decided to make the short film, where Hanuman and Krishna become superheroes.

Patel said he grew up as an American, very conflicted about his Indian roots.

But in making this film he has finally come to terms with his father's immigrant life and the Indian culture that he carried with him to the US.

***

Taj Mahal is no Hotel Rwanda

IMAGE: Stacy Martin in Taj Mahal.

French journalist-turned-filmmaker Nicholas Saada has brought to Telluride his narrative film, Taj Mahal, a 26/11 inspired story of a young French girl who is trapped in her hotel room, as terrorists attack Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel.

Stacy Martin (Nymphomaniac) plays Louise stuck in her room as Mumbai's landmark hotel is attacked.

Much of the film is set inside Louise's room and the terror and tension is felt as the camera focuses on her face, while we hear gunshots and explosions from outside.

Saada said he was inspired to make the film after he heard the ordeal of a young woman who was locked up in her room in the hotel, until she was finally rescued.

Taj Mahal is very gripping, but critics have not been kind to it. Variety's Peter Debruge wrote in his review: 'Compared with Argo's white-knuckle opening or the relatively intense siege depicted in Hotel Rwanda, Taj Mahal feels practically inert... The film grows almost tedious as Louise alternates between cowering in the bathroom and hiding under the bed.'

***

Malala: Not compelling enough

IMAGE: The He Named Me Malala poster

Director David Guggenheim's He Named Me Malala looks at the life and work of the young Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

Guggenheim's film tracks Malala's life as a child in the Swat Valley, and the circumstances that led her and her the family to move to Birmingham.

We see the young woman during her travels from Nigeria to the Syrian conflict region. There are some charming moments when the director talks to Malala's two brothers and her parents.

But overall, He Named Me Malala is a bit too earnest a film, lacking the compelling energy that one would expect from it.

Aseem Chhabra in Telluride
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