Synopsis: In Taking Woodstock, when plans fall through on a venue for Woodstock, the son of ranch owners offers their land for the festivities, with all sorts of consequences.
Release Date: August 28, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Taking Woodstock has something for everyone, but it may have too much for some (if you have issues with drug use, nudity, and sexuality in its purest forms). Do not let this deter you from watching though since so much of what it offers is unbelievably grand. As Taking Woodstock moves along it only becomes more engrossing and you find yourself in a trance. This trance overtakes you as the infectious nature of the people, the “hippies” so to speak, affects each and every character and you, the viewer, in return.
Life is breathed into those who thought their lives were over, and also into those who had not a clue what or where their life was going to take them. The festival is not the focus upon which the movie ultimately falls. It is about self-expression, love, acceptance, and peace. Things everyone can, and should, subscribe to in their daily lives. Do not be surprised if you have a smile upon your face throughout Taking Woodstock as you experience first hand the people and the passion that brought three days of peace and music; with a dose of love, happiness and togetherness for all to create a cultural milestone.
There is not a single character in Taking Woodstock that will not leave some sort of impression upon you or have you recalling a certain scene, line, or moment they fulfilled on screen. Imelda Staunton (Mother/Sonia) is a force to be reckoned with as what can only be called a ‘bulldog’ of a role. With her sharp tongue and spitfire personality watching her is a delicious treat. Every moment she spends on screen in Taking Woodstock ranting and raving or spewing paranoid thoughts, even trying to charge for soap or toilet paper, all eyes are on her and you only want more.
To counteract the balance there is her son, Elliot, played by a newcomer to the profession of acting for the screen, Demetri Martin. Dare we say he is a natural? It would appear so. Martin portrays the caretaker son trying to find his own way in the world while feeling the ties of family with amazing force in a quiet and patient manner. As Taking Woodstock progresses we watch him come out of his shell and embrace himself, through expressing his sexuality and by opening his world up to the joy that is to be found in this peaceful momentous experience that is (or was) Woodstock. These two performances are only a mere sampling of the greatest from all of the actors in Taking Woodstock. They make a great impression but as an ensemble, the entire cast melds wonderfully together.
There is a great deal going on inTaking Woodstock at all times. In order to keep the viewer aware of everything, Ang Lee made a remarkable choice. He had the cinematographer (Eric Gautier) shoot multiple scenes from every angle possible, then cover multiple lines of actions happening at once, paired with varying POV shots of these lines, and lastly handed it all to the editor (Tim Squyres) to meld it together with split screens. Not just two-sided split screens, oh no, that would be far too easy. This movie cuts the screen up to show you as much as it can over and over again.
Lee’s decision to bring together the overlapping storylines, the multiple actions of characters in the same room at the same time, even the landscape and its varying natural actions, or lack of, adds a dimension to the viewing experience that is hard to describe with words. You are in the moment, feeling the chaos, the excitement, the thrills, anticipation, stress – the list goes on and on. These splits not only give you the opportunity to see everything but also to feel and reflect and emphasize wholeheartedly. Do not fear this technique for you will never feel confused or wonder where your focus should be at a particular moment. They are timed so perfectly you have a chance to take it all in, never missing a moment or a beat.
If you put together a host of personalities such as those of the characters in Taking Woodstock, humor is bound to follow. To pinpoint anything specific is impossible as the comedy is weaved throughout. Whether it is through the dialogue, physical actions, or a mix of both it is hard to imagine anyone would not be laughing.
It is quite possible, and up for debate no less, that the greatest filmed acid trip ever has taken place in Taking Woodstock.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Ang Lee
- Producer(s): James Schamus
- Cast: Henry Goodman (Jake Teichberg), Imelda Staunton (Sonia Teichberg), Demetri Martin (Elliot Teichberg), Kevin Chamberlin (Jackson Spiers)
- Editor(s): Tim Squyres
- Cinematographer: Eric Gautier
- Production Designer(s): David Gropman
- Music Score: Danny Elfman
- Country Of Origin: USA