Taking Woodstock (2009)

Taking Woodstock is Ang Lee‘s newest movie, starring Demetri Martin, Imelda Staunton, Emile Hirsch, Jeffrey Dean MorganLiev Schreiber and Paul Dano.

Taking Woodstock is based on the real life story of Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), an out of luck interior designer who has to move back to his parents’ motel and of how he gets the Woodstock festival to be in his small town after Woodstock (and a neughbouring village) both pull the permits for it to be held there.

Taking Woodstock is a funny and heartfelt movie but most of all, a movie that manages to capture the spirit of the time (or at least it seems that way to someone who wasn’t alive then). It’s a captivating coming of age story set in slightly crazy but definitely special times that is told with a lot of humour and respect. Loved it.

Taking Woodstock had practically no marketing campaign. If I wasn’t an obsessive looker-at-cinema-posters, I probably would have missed it (even though I’m a huge Ang Lee fan). And I really don’t know why (though I have a theory – there’s plenty of nudity and some swearing and *gasp* gay loving). In any case, the movie didn’t deserve this silence – it really was wonderful.

The acting was amazing. And every ten minutes or so there seemed to be another cameo. (Oh look! It’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan! Oh look! It’s Liev Schreiber! Oh look! It’s Emile Hirsch! Oh look! It’s Paul Dano!) And they just kept on coming.
Imelda Staunton was her usual wonderful self and newcomer Demetri Martin convinced me fully. It just seemed like everybody was really enjoying the shoot and had a lot of fun.

The story has a beautiful lightness to it and yet covers a whole lot of ground – the story of the festival itself, Elliot’s coming of age, Elliot’s parents’ relationship, sex, drugs, morality – it’s actually quite dense when you think about it, but it never feels heavy.

The cinematography is beautiful, but the most beautiful part about it might well be when Elliot tries LSD for the first time – the way the high is shown to us… I never saw such a realistic portrayal of a LSD high. [Just to clarify: I have never taken LSD myself, but this felt amazingly real – not so over the top as many other stylised highs seem to be.]

So, summarising I’d say it was an amazing film that should be a must see for anyone who is even only slightly interested in the Woodstock festival. The only caveat: Don’t expect the Woodstock music: Elliot never really got to hear the bands playing and neither do we.

3 thoughts on “Taking Woodstock (2009)

  1. Pingback: Top 10: Movies I’ve Seen in 2009 « Stuff

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