Movie review: Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)

  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Apr 06, 2008 10:06 AM GMT
    Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)

    A made-for-TV movie about the beginning of Apple and Microsoft, Pirates of Silicon Valley focuses on Steve Jobs (Noah Wyle) and Bill Gates (Anthony Michael Hall), the differences and similarities between them, and how Jobs unwittingly enabled Microsoft to create Windows. It tells the story as a docu-drama, relying on fictionalized narrations by Steve Wozniak (Joey Slotnick) for Apple and by Steve Ballmer (John Di Maggio) for Microsoft that connect significant incidents for both companies.

    The Good
    - Pirates explores one of the most significant, yet woefully understated events of the 20th Century: the popularization of the computer by Jobs, Gates, and their compatriots
    - while the beginning of Apple and Microsoft may not sound like the stuff of wonders, Pirates dramatizes the conflicts nicely (with some creative license)
    - Wyle does a good job of relaying Jobs' visionary personality, but it's Hall who soars with a delicious interpretation of a driven Gates; while Gates may make for a fairly boring PR person (check out the Daily Show's interview with him at the launch of Vista for confirmation), Hall's interpretation rings true for those of us who suspect intensity within him

    The Bad
    - Pirates feels messy, as the two narrations do not interact with each other (other than as intersections between Gates and Jobs) and the ending is sudden and unfulfilling
    - the narrations also have a tendency to reduce the on-screen drama, resulting in telling rather than showing the importance of a particular event
    - some of the creative license used in Pirates equalizes Jobs and Gates more than necessary*, resulting in a sense of "why?" when confronted with the actual occurences

    The Ugly
    - the narrations include some jarring fourth-wall breaches that are gimmicky and unnecessary
    - the focus is skewed toward Jobs, to the point where it seems that Pirates could easily have been re-written to be primarily about Jobs and Apple within a more traditional narrative style (with Gates as a budding antagonist, who ultimately wins out on the Jobs tragedy)

    Relevance to Gaydom
    Being relevant to upwards of hundreds of millions of people everyday, the popularization of the computer is statistically relevant to LGBTQ persons (particularly with the development of computer networks, such as the Internet). Where would you be without a computer, in terms of your job, your personal life, and your connection to fellow gays (as well as the then-non-existent Mac v. PC debate)?

    Bottomline: Recommended
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 06, 2008 5:51 PM GMT
    This sounds interesting. I hadn't heard about it. Perhaps I will look for it on Netflix. Thanks for the recommendation.

    I suppose casting Anthony Michael Hall as Bill Gates makes sense on the basis of his performances in "Weird Science" and "Sixteen Candles."
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 06, 2008 6:08 PM GMT
    I have looked at this three or four times and thought of posting.

    The movie is OK, though it sort of starts up after the truly inspirational moment already passed.

    I do share the belief that this is an enormously important passage in history.

    You talk about the significance to Gaydom.

    I have always used only Mac computers and I spend meaningful amounts of time with them (this is typed on a MacBook Air).

    As a person I don't find Jobs interesting. In fact, he is a mythical homophobe.

    I do think Bill Gates is a great man and one who is far from finished in his personal evolution. He is someone worth admiring and worth liking.

    Well, I see I still don't know how to write this, let that be enough.