Taking Woodstock: This Film is Not Yet Rated

Credit to Ang Lee–the man does not make the same movie twice. He’s gone from The Ice Storm to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to Brokeback Mountain to Lust, Caution. And don’t forget Hulk, probably the best of the comic movie boom. The Taiwan-born director’s latest is Taking Woodstock, based on the true story of a young Catskills hotelier who helped promoters put on the famed festival in 1969.

Lee never seems to let much of himself show through his movies, although they always feel sincere. Many of his films are written by producing partner James Schamus, who also penned the Taking Woodstock adaptation. Lee uses actors in interesting ways–just dig the gymnastics of Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Tang Wei in Lust, Caution–and they reward him with memorable performances. (Brokeback Mountain made Heath Ledger‘s legend.) The married director frequently deals in gay themes, and Woodstock‘s tale is no exception. Elliot Tiber’s memoir is also about how he hides his sexuality from his parents, who own the impoverished resort he helps run.

Weirdly enough, aside from several hippies who look like they’re in an Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot, there’s no mention of that in this trailer. Alas, what is on screen doesn’t make much of a case for Taking Woodstock‘s existence. The overall vibe is of an indie comedy, with the production values of a VH1 made-for-TV movie. The main questions are: Will Elliot save the resort by providing land for the festival? Can Elliot and the hippies fend off the angry citizens of upstate New York? While the cast includes the appealing Comedy Central poster child Demitri Martin as Elliot Tiber and Eugene Levyas Max Yasgur, though, the film doesn’t look particularly funny.

Still, look closely and you’ll see Emile Hirsch, fresh from Milk‘s storefront and now doing the mad-as-hell flower child thing. Liev Schrieber looks considerably more blissed-out at the prospect of three days of peace, music and rolling around in the mud. Nobody looks like they could actually plausibly exist in the 1960s.

Brokeback Mountain couldn’t be made at any other time except the Bush era, and Lust, Caution was an attempt to spark to bring the sexy back to China (the Communist censors simply cut out the offending scenes and said the positions could cause physical harm.) But Lee’s motives for Taking Woodstock are on this evidence still unknown.

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One Response to “Taking Woodstock: This Film is Not Yet Rated”

  1. Gus Van Sant Gets on the Bus « SquallyShowers Says:

    […] of a wave of nostalgia for the days of Happenings, Be-ins and Free Love. Ang Lee has just completed Taking Woodstock, while Milk star James Franco is playing Ginsberg in Kill Your […]

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