Controversial Steve Jobs documentary airs on TV this weekend


man in the machine
Something something dark side.
Photo: Magnolia Pictures

If you haven’t suffered Steve Jobs overload already (and the disappointing box office results for Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs suggests that many people have), Oscar winner Alex Gibney’s controversial feature-length Jobs documentary, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, debuts this Sunday on CNN.

The documentary debuted at the South by Southwest Film Festival earlier this year. To promote the screening, CNN has set up a mini-site with behind-the-scenes clips from the doc, giving you a sense of how its creators viewed Jobs and the documentary they were making.

Personally, I’m a fan of Alex Gibney’s work — which are some of the slickest and most cinematic documentaries around, with the highlight being his 2007 documentary Taxi to the Dark Side, concerning the death of an Afghan taxi driver while being held at the Parwan Detention Facility.

TheNextWeb is describing this as, “the only accurate Steve Jobs movie,” although that’s not really accurate in itself. Like Sorkin’s movie, the doc dwells on Jobs’ “darker side,” which caused Apple VP Eddy Cue to blast this as, “mean-spirited view of my friend” shortly after it debuted. In the Denver Post‘s movie review, the newspaper wrote that:

“What seems to fascinate Gibney most are Jobs’ well-known character failings, which his accomplishments merely seemed to throw into ever harsher relief … Gibney doesn’t exactly go in for cheap shots here, but you do get the sense that he’s making use of every weapon in his arsenal.”

In other words, this is hardly a documentary that redresses the balance of Sorkin’s film by focusing on what Jobs did rather than how he did it. Still, if you’re looking for a slick and professional Steve Jobs documentary to watch (and whatever your take on Gibney’s damning view of Apple as a Scientology-like cult, it’s worth checking out for the high quality archive footage), this is worth viewing.

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine airs on CNN at 9pm (ET) this Sunday January 3.