Taking Woodstock

Film, Comedy
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Taking Woodstock

Read an interview with the director here

After the back-to-back bleakness of  ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and ‘Lust, Caution’, Ang Lee takes a well-deserved breather with this breezy, none-too-rigorous investigation into the men behind the iconic music festival. On one hand it’s a featherlight, surprisingly broad comedy which swallows the hippie-dream propaganda whole; on the other it’s a winningly un-cynical, warmly nostalgic tale of simple self-discovery.

Gay, Jewish and desperately seeking purpose, Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin) leaves his liberated NYC existence to help his parents with their crumbling rustic motel upstate. Hearing about a major rock festival seeking a home, Elliott offers his small hometown as a venue, the motel as mission control and his own services as local liaison.

Anyone with an ounce of scepticism about the hippie myth will be infuriated by ‘Taking Woodstock’, a film so starry-eyed and winsome it would make Joni Mitchell blush. But leave those preconceptions at the door and there’s a lot to enjoy here: hipster stand-up Martin is agreeably off-kilter in his first feature role, backed  by a dizzying array of memorable supporting players, notably Imelda Staunton channeling Mel Brooks as Elliot’s crotchety, Nazi-obsessed mother and Brit theatre and TV actor Henry Goodman in a remarkable turn as put-upon dad Jake.

But the real star is Lee’s direction. Goosing Godard with an epic track through traffic, loading the screen with whirling naked bodies, withholding the epic scale of the festival until Elliot (and the cinematography) are blitzed to the gills on LSD, this may be a minor movie, but it displays the hallmarks of a major talent.

Read an interview with the director here

By: Tom Huddleston


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday November 13 2009
Duration: 120 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ang Lee
Screenwriter: James Schamus
Cast: Demetri Martin
Henry Goodman
Imelda Staunton
Emile Hirsch
Liev Schreiber
Eugene Levy
Jonathan Groff
Paul Dano
Kelli Garner
Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

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My husband and I watched this on NetFlix last night and we loved it! Today, I looked at the awful reviews and it only confirmed not to read them. However, your review "gets it." This simple movie is profound!

Offered more than I expected. I actually ended up liking this movie. I particularly liked the way Ang Lee didin't spell out that the son was gay/bi/whatever or get hung up on his friend who was seemingly transvestite. The movie showed lovely subtle ways of how things could have been back then- the clothes, the cars... OK it wasn't totally groundbreaking, but I thought it very endearing. I wish I'd have been there anyway!!!!!!

Jasgur's Farm is a memorable name in the American cultural mythology of the 20th century, and this film embellishes the myth. Partly it is an homage to the original film of the original Woodstock festival, on which Martin Scorsese was assistant director. It uses a similar split screen technique to depict simultaneous events and the same event from different angles. At times it could have been the original documentary unfortunately without much of the music. Most of all this was enjoyable lightweight fun. Unfortunately some people will be offended by the sight of young people enjoying themselves.

woodstock takes you for a joyride with a lot of hippies ,lsd and marihuana addicts ,and semi -closeted homosexuals alongside some truly freaked out dysfunctional humanity which america abounds in it's glorious dream and hefty bosom . the premise is a mass concert held in a suburban village in newyork in 1969 where all the scum gathers to celebrate drugs,promote human rights and civil liberties in the name of free music . it actually indulges in showing some freaks in the nude and others sermonising in frredom of spirit and mind and is one of the most moronic ,self -indulgent ,trashy cinematic experiences of anytime . ang lee seems to be really fatigued after creating lust ,caution and brokeback and here he is taking a vacartion but why torture the movie goers - take a break and spare our senses too if you have lost your own directions . as for TIMEOUT ,they have lost all credibility and i am not surprised the hall was empty on a saturday in central london ,as this is an abysmal intolerable blasphemy from the nerdy male lead to emile hirsh who made an obligatory appearance along with liev schreiber -the essential and typical references to gays and jews and stonewall were enough to make this a one-note crap lacking any humour or any comic quality whatsoever -a dull ,disgusting and depressing drama not worth a penny .