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Rated R · 120 minutes · 2009
I’ve begun to think that Ang Lee is just not that great at making movies. His best work is very good, but his worst is sloppy, sappy and painfully trite. Taking Woodstock exhibits a little of both of Lee’s extremes, but the bad stuff outweighs the good and drags down what is a gorgeously shot and ambitious project to the level of a Lifetime made-for-TV family drama. The story follows the Teichberg family, who own a small hotel near Woodstock, N.Y. In a Capra-cornish setup, the bank is about to foreclose on their business when a white knight rides in—in the form of the Woodstock Music Festival. Suddenly awash in cash and hippies, the dysfunctional family learns about love and togetherness and stock sequences that could have been dragged out of a half-dozen family dramas. Luckily, there are a couple of great performances and good ideas to keep Taking Woodstock from being awful. Liev Schreiber is powerful as a transvestite security guard, and Jonathan Groff has an otherworldy calm as music promoter Michael Lang. Lee also does a great job of filming an acid sequence: Instead of the silly special effects that usually accompany drug scenes, he captures the undulations, trails and twirls of an experience with psychedelics. Scenes of thousands of people rippling in the night while the music plays are hypnotic and effective. If Lee had left out the Lifetime-TV family stuff, this might have been the definitive Woodstock film.
Official Site: www.filminfocus.com/focusfeatures/film/taking_woodstock
Director: Ang Lee
Producer: James Schamus, Ang Lee, Celia Costas and Michael Hausman
Cast: Demetri Martin, Imelda Staunton, Emile Hirsch, Liev Schreiber, Eugene Levy, Jonathan Groff, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Henry Goodman, Dan Fogler, Paul Dano, Mamie Gummer, Kelli Garner and Skylar Astin

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Taking Woodstock

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What others are saying (7)

Colorado Springs Independent Myth America This may not be a look at the Woodstock that was, but it's charming as a look at the Woodstock that we wish it had been. by Scott Renshaw 08/27/2009
Memphis Flyer Taking Stock of Woodstock A fond outsider's take on counterculture's big moment. by Chris Herrington 08/27/2009
Charleston City Paper Taking Woodstock is a hippie-dippie, rose-colored piece of nostalgia Maybe it's totally not true that Woodstock was awesome. Maybe it really was just a bunch of smelly unwashed hippies getting high and ending up slathered in mud and not even being able to hear the music. I dunno. I wasn't there. I was born the day after the festival ended. Maybe it wasn't a watershed moment in American history, when peace, love, and rock 'n' roll triumphed over greed and war and other icky stuff. If the sorry evidence of today is any measure, then it probably wasn't. by MaryAnn Johanson 08/26/2009
4 more reviews...
Portland Mercury Please Shut Up, Baby Boomers If somebody says "Woodstock" one more time... by Lindy West 08/27/2009
Chicago Reader Point your face at Demetri Martin The comic Demetri Martin pays a visit—a pad of paper under one arm, an acoustic guitar under the other. by Kevin Warwick 03/27/2013
The Coast Halifax Taking Woodstock fails to connect It's hard to get excited about Taking Woodstock when most of us will spend the rest of our lives paying for this self-indulgent generation's excess by Hillary Titley 08/27/2009
Colorado Springs Independent Opening this week Adam, The Final Destination, Spread and more. 08/27/2009

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