Apr 25, 2012

Taking Woodstock [2009]

Seeing "Taking Woodstock" was a spontaneous decisions- I've had it for a while, but didn't get around to seeing it, so today, when I was trying to get away from university assignments, I said, "Why not? Summer is almost here". What can I say after seeing it? I want to go to a festival; sit on the grass, talk to people, listen to good music, take photos- I just want to enjoy life together with the people around me. Damn it, the hippie vibe got to me, I think I would have been pretty happy in the 60s right?

Taking Woodstock is an Ang Lee movie about Elliot, a young man who returns to his hometown to take care of his parents and their endangered business (a motel). After he learns that Woodstock might not be happening that year because of land problems, he decides to call Michael Lang, one of organizers, and propose to him to move the festival to his town. The rest of the movie basically shows you the backstage of what happened in the festival, the ups and downs, the people and the atmosphere of Woodstock, something that is still being talked about. I do believe it is a golden era, in some aspects, and I would go back in time to experience it, even just for one day.

The film featured a big cast, from people like Eugene Levy (the owner of the land), to Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jonathan Groff (Michael Lang), Emile Hirsch, Paul Dano and Mamie Gummer. My favorite characters were played by Liev Schreiber (the out-of-nowhere drag "bodyguard") and Imelda Staunton (Elliot's mother), in a hilarious, yet very good role. Demetri Martin, the lead actor, offered a pretty approachable and sweet performance, and blended it perfectly with the rest of the cast.

Script-wise, it wasn't the best, but overall, I think it made its point. Yes, there are some shallow characters, some undeveloped ideas and some cut in, cut out scenes, but I still think that, for what it was aiming to do (re-create Woodstock in some way or another), it did a good job. The cinematography and direction were also on point, although I must say I was amazed by the number of extras they had- how did they control them or give directions? Visually, one of my favorite scenes has to be the acid trip Elliot has while being in a hippie VW Beetle wagon- I loved the waves to the stage and the colors used, I could see and understand how something like that must feel.

"Taking Woodstock" might not be perfect, but I personally enjoyed it- it set up a great mood and atmosphere, it was visually beautiful, with great music and  it came from a script which had fun moments and wacky, yet relatable characters. You should really give it a try next time you're in the mood for something light!


  1. The film had some moments with its supporting cast but I was kind of bored by the story. Not to mention that I found Demitri Martin to be so bland in his performance. I was also disappointed by the fact that the actual concert wasn't shown. What's the point of making a film about Woodstock if you're not going to incorporate any footage of that festival?

  2. I forgot this is an Ang Lee movie. He's really a versatile director, able to tackle so many different genres. My fave Ang Lee film shall always be Sense & Sensibility.

  3. Great review! I love Ang Lee's films so I'm going to have to check this one out once I'm done watching cheesy horror movies :)

  4. I really wanted to like this movie, but, aside from Staunton and scene-stealer Schreiber, I didn't enjoy it at all. You're right, it's definitely light, but, for me, a little too light.

  5. @Steven: I think the decision of not showing the concert was conscious, and I kinda liked that, because the story was not actually about it, but more about the people behind it!
    @ruth: He really is a versatile director, I like that about him! I still have to see Sense&Sensibility, I know you liked it a lot!
    @Sati: thanks, you should check it out, although most seem to not like it as much as I did!
    @Alex: Come on, light is not bad :) I do get your point, too!

  6. Oh you MUST see S&S, Diana. Trust me, you just might fall in love with it. It's such a beautiful movie, it never fails to move me.

  7. It's a very uneven flick that is at times, funny as hell, and then just weird to be weird, but I still enjoyed all of the thinking Lee put into the look and feel of this flick. Still didn't think that the lead character had to be gay but hey, that's just me. I guess it didn't really bother me all that much in the end. Good review Diana.

  8. @ruth: I will, maybe even today, I need a good romantic movie. I will check it out soon!
    @Dan O: He didn't have to be gay, but it was good for the movie, I think, because it made the whole situation more relatable- in the 60s people didn't feel so free to talk about their sexuality. I liked this direction!