Friday, September 04, 2009

Taking Woodstock

Using the Woodstock festival as a backdrop, Director Ang Lee recreates events behind the scene that add up to a sweet coming of age film. While we never actually get to see the bands play, Mr. Lee cleverly recreates an atmosphere that gives the viewer a sense of what it must have been like for those remarkable three days.

The film centers on Elliott Teichberg, a young man trying to help his parents hold on to their decaying motel in White Lake NY. It was Elliott who contacted Woodstock ventures and eventually helped to arrange to have the concert held on Max Yasgur's farm. Elliot's relationship with his parents, friends and the townspeople is the focus here with the concert itself taking a backseat.

There are some terrific performances from Imelda Staunton and Henry Goodman as Elliot's parents. Liv Schreiber and Emile Hirsch have interesting cameos (although I would have enjoyed more of their own back stories) and Eugene Levy plays it straight as Max Yasgur. Elliot is played by Demetri Martin and it is Mr. Martin who has the unfortunate task of being the bland glue holding all the other colorful characters together.

The film is interesting if only for the back story of how the festival came together. Elliot's coming of age tale is nothing new but Woodstock does make for a colorful fabric to weave the tale. If you're more interested in the concert itself, rent the recently released 4 hour uncut version of "Woodstock". One of the greatest concert films ever produced and a visual reminder of something that we'll never experience again.


Anonymous said...

Your post is very intriguing about Woodstock. At the time, I was a 23 year old student at San Jose State. Although I didn't attend Woodstock, it was a turning point in movement politics at the close of the decade.

Timothy Fitzgerald, Author and Historian

30 Second Critic said...

I was 15 at the time and at summer camp about an hour away. We were planning a camp trip to the festival until the owners got worried about how out of control it was becoming and they cancelled the trip for "our safety".