Rated R; Directed by Ang Lee; Starring Demetri Martin, Henry Goodman, Imelda Staunton, Eugene Levy, Liev Schreiber, Emile Hirsch
The 1969 concert of all concerts took place on Max Yasgur’s farm in White Lake, NY. A three-day gathering of “peace and music” created something still remembered fondly as Woodstock became a cultural phenomenon. Forty years later director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) looks at how it came about in this movie about young Elliot Teichberg trying to bring business to his parents’ failing motel.
Poor Elliot (Demetri Martin).His parents are about to lose their run down motel in the Catskills. He has left New York City to stay on through the summer on the off chance that he can save things for his penny-pinching mother (Imelda Staunton) and dour father (Henry Goodman). Then opportunity arises. The Woodstock music festival folks need a permit to put o their show. With the help of Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy) and his fields, Woodstock comes to fruition, bringing a wider view of the world to Elliot.
Director Ang Lee lets the film meander, offering fun scenes of the counter culture meeting the uptight folks of White Lake along with more serious moments. Nudity, drugs, sexual situations, and a cross-dressing ex-Marine (Liev Schreiber having fun) all play their part for Elliot. A good cast helps play with the understated material.
Ang Lee does end up following in the footsteps of the original Woodstock documentary by using split screens, and though we do not see any of the musical numbers performed on the Woodstock stage, they do play as background music to the goings on during the festival. Taking Woodstock creates a believable depiction of what Woodstock felt like in that summer of 1969.