There is a tenderness to Ang Lee’s direction in his latest film- the sort of tenderness you felt in Lust, Caution but leaning toward the Brokeback Mountain sort of tenderness. Yuh it’s all tender in ’69 alright.
Elliot, a closeted Jewish interior designer decides to help out with his parents’ failing motel by calling up the producers of the Woodstock music festival in hopes of reinvigorating business. And that’s basically all you need to know about Taking Woodstock.
Despite my lack of knowledge for anything about this movie, I enjoyed Taking Woodstock immensely (seeing Liev Schreiber in drag wasn’t half bad either haha). It’s the kind of movie I wish that wouldn’t end; which falls into whole new movie category I can say that I encounter only once in every five years.
Taking Woodstock had all the potential of being laden with teen angst and rebellion but Lee was clever enough to tread these matters lightly while keeping the mood essentially vibrant. He plays it somber when called for, and does it with class. There is a scene between Elliot, the lead character and his father in which he asks him “How do you do it? How can you stay married to mom (an amazing Imelda Staunton, btw) for 40 years?” In the same uninterrupted take and in the same neutral-looking long shot (without any unecessary close-ups and lingering dramatic silences) he turns around and says “I love her,” and walks out the door leaving Elliot in the dark.
Right then and there you’ll know that ‘Taking Woodstock’ isn’t about the concert- hell, it isn’t even about the music. I won’t say what it’s about but I will tell you this- go see it for that necessary dose of film nourishment.
It’s an avalanche of cuteness set to the hipster-est backdrop of today’s generation with scenes that may speak the painful truth about love to some, but also gives off the feel of a contrived relationship to many. Apart from drawing us into a world where Deschanel’s big blue eyes are the centre of the universe, Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer takes your breath away, keeps you laughing in your seat (but I have no idea why I found humour in the scenes that were unintentionally funny), and most importantly keeps you entertained. It’s a bunch of cute people doing their cute thing, and the end result is just well, cute.
Of course we need to be musically inclined, darling
Paper Heart is a cutesy quirky piece of moviemaking with that Charlyne Yi girl who I’m sure no one would’ve given a second glance if it weren’t for this ongoing hipster movement. Since geekery is now cool and being out is now in, maybe the charm and cuteness of this movie is supposed to portray the opposite? How deep was Paper Heart intended to be? Possibly not at all, despite tackling the topic of love in an almost scholar-like approach in some of the scenes. One thing I’m glad to note about Paper Heart is that the handheld treatment didn’t go overboard for forced realism. Yup I guess that’s it. Oh but I do have just one question- why does Charlyne Yi always act like she’s on dope?
Funny people are people, too
I watch movies to enjoy them, not to walk out of them. Nearly 140 minutes of my life have been stolen from me so I need to let this out. Team Apatow has done it again… beating a dead and already massacred horse, that is.
Like most of Apatow’s work which is seemingly crafted for the fickle-minded, we are always quick to forget the downward spiralling trend he follows- the staggering second act that not even a few funny people and funny dialogue can save. He indulges too much of his background in stand-up comedy that it screams autobiographical at times. A family affair within the same Apatow universe he has built, one can only take so much inside joking and horsing around that it gets tiring. It really, really does. What’s more excruciating about this movie other than its insane running time were the several attempts to resurrect the candor with even more bland comedy and sometimes slapstick humour causing it to fall flat on its face really, really bad (maybe they were thinking there was safety in toilet humour and crudeness?).
I learned one thing from all this, though: Hilarity ends when it tries to tread on. Sure the comedy was there, but its purpose was to blindside everyone and distract them of a story that never unfolded. Pretty soon you’ll realise the whole movie was a joke. The punch line was there, but I guess no one can point it out.