Taking Woodstock

Release Date: August 26, 2009
Limited release

The Comedian shows his softer side.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
31/169 Max Braden Lightly charming. Jonathan Groff was the only low point, trying too hard and overacting his 'coolness.' I loved the LSD scene. (I mean, as far as I can remember there was only one LSD scene...)
54/82 Kelly Metz Good music, good cast (loved Liev Schreiber!) - but the story didn't really grab me.

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The eponymous documentary about the legendary 1969 Woodstock music festival won an Academy Award for best feature documentary and is often considered one of the finest music documentaries of all-time. Now, with the 40-year anniversary approaching, Oscar winner Ang Lee is tackling Woodstock from a different perspective with his latest film, which centers around a man named Elliot Tiber. Tiber was a small hotel manager and interior designer from upstate New York who would end up playing a key part in making Woodstock a success. He offered the hotel and his music festival permit (the only one in the sleepy town of Bethel, New York) to the festival organizers.

But Lee's movie, based on the book "Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life", isn't about Woodstock so much as it is about Tiber, played by little-known talent Demetri Martin. Tiber lived as a closeted gay man, hiding this life from his family, and after the June 1969 Stonewall Riots his voyage of self-discovery culminated that summer with the historic festival. Other actors in the impressive cast include Imelda Staunton and Henry Goodman as his parents, Emile Hirsch as a Vietnam vet, Eugene Levy as farm owner Max Yasgur, and Liev Schreiber as a transvestite.

The screenplay was written by Lee's longtime collaborator James Schamus, whose impressive resume includes The Ice Storm and Brokeback Mountain. Although the story sounds like it could be another heavy drama in the vein of those two films, Taking Woodstock is said to be rather light-hearted with plenty of comic moments and perhaps one of Lee's lighter movies. The R-rated movie was filmed on-location in New York state and opens in mid-August 2009 to coincide with the 40-year celebration. While it's too soon to tell if any other awards are in Lee and Schamus' future, the movie may be a welcome respite to adult audiences looking for something different after a long summer of blockbusters. Taking Woodstock premiered at the 2009 Cannes film festival. (Michael Bentley/BOP)

Vital statistics for Taking Woodstock
Main Cast Demetri Martin, Emile Hirsch, Imelda Staunton
Supporting Cast Henry Goodman, Jonathan Groff, Mamie Gummer, Eugene Levy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Liev Schreiber
Director Ang Lee
Screenwriter James Schamus
Distributor Focus Features
Official Site http://www.takingwoodstockthemovie.com/
Rating R
Screen Count 2
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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