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.