Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee tells the story of the Greenwich Village interior designer who inadvertently helped to spark a cultural revolution by offering the organizers of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival boarding at his family's Catskills motel. The year is 1969. Change is brewing in America, and the energy in Greenwich Village is palpable. Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin) is working as an interior designer when he discovers that a high-profile concert has recently lost its permit from the nearby town of Wallkill, NY. Emboldened by the burgeoning gay rights movement yet still tied to tradition in the form of the family business -- a Catskills motel called the El Monaco -- Tiber phones producer Michael Lang (Jonathan Groff) at Woodstock Ventures and offers boarding to the harried concert crew. Later, as the Woodstock Ventures staff begans arriving in droves, half a million concertgoers make their way to Max Yasgur's (Eugene Levy) adjacent farm in White Lake, NJ, to witness the counterculture celebration that would ultimately make history as one of the greatest events in the annals of rock & roll. Imelda Staunton, Emile Hirsch, Liev Schreiber, and Paul Dano co-star.
Taking Woodstock 2.8 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
Based on a true story, Taking Woodstock follows the story of Elliot Tiechberg (Demetri Martin), who helps his parents (Imelda Staunton and Henry Goodman) with their failing motel in the Catskills. Out of money as he's fueled it into the motel to keep it running, he finds an opportunity in bringing Woodstock to the Catskills after it's been kicked out of it's original home, and a deal for it to appear in a neighboring town falls through. Faced with opposition, Elliot procedes to bring Woodstock to the Catskills, an opportunity that changes his life, and his relationship with his parents.
Ang Lee, as well as his frequent collaborator James Schamus, have carved out a niche for themselves creating art house dramas based on around the central theme of outsiders trying to find their place in a world that's constantly changing around them. To be honest, I have never been a big fan of Lee's, from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to Hulk to Brokeback Mountain I've always found him to be slightly overrated even if he does pull great performances from his actors.
Honestly, I have to say that I enjoyed Lee's newest film. Now don't get me wrong, even with Brokeback Mountain I didn't find myself impressed, I just felt that the story of a forbidden relationship in the midst of changing and turbulent times has been done before and has been done better. With his other films, I just found them lacking, but with this one it felt a little closer to home than what I'm used to from Lee.
Another thing that really adds to this movie is the acting. No one really stands out, everyone just fits in their posts. Demetri Martin, best known for his currently running Comedy Central show delivers a very understated performance as Elliot, as does Eugene Levy in the role of Max Yasgur, the man who allows Woodstock to play on his land. Once again, Liev Schreiber dons drag for his role in this film as he did in Mixed Nuts (and steals the movie in drag as he did in Mixed Nuts as well). But one of the great things here is the fact that no one really stands out, everyone shines or blends together.
Honestly, though, and this is awkward for a Lee film, this flick begins to feel a little scattered. The first act is fairly tight, but as time goes on the film begins to feel less taut. In the third act it seems to unravel, not just in the form of the characters lives unraveling, but because the film itself unraveling. One particular instance of this is a subplot that reveals Elliot is gay, but it is never spoken. I would typically not argue about this if a film made it clear, but it's never truly mentioned in the film. In my opinion it really just seemed that Elliot is bi-sexual in the film, but in life the real Elliot is a homosexual. It would seem to me that the film should have done a better job of portraying him as so, and this is just once case
All in all, I enjoyed this film. It's not a great film, but it's not a horrible film either. If you're interested in Woodstock, and what went on behind the scenes rather than just the concert itself and how lives were affected I highly recommend this film. If you're looking for films in the vein of other Ang Lee movies this might not be the film for you though overall. Either way I recommend you at least give it a try, in my honest opinion it's a lot of fun.