Cannes 2009 Review: Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock

May 15, 2009

Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock

I'm not a child of the 60's, and I wasn't around when Woodstock took place in 1969, so I have a lot to learn and a lot to appreciate regarding the three-day long concert. That said, Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock is less about the concert itself, and more about Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), a White Plains, New York local who could be held responsible for helping pull off such a successful event. Ang Lee's take on this story isn't all rock 'n roll, it's a lot more subtle, but it's still an intriguing story and I still enjoyed watching it play out. It's a much more muted look at the concert that changed the world than any studio would've probably liked.

What I enjoyed about Taking Woodstock is that it was a studied look at one individual, and how he affected Woodstock and, more importantly, how Woodstock affected him. He wasn't a hippie, he wasn't even into the music, but he was the one who brought them to White Plains, and brought that community together. Whereas a studio film about Woodstock might've featured montages of concert footage, blaring rock 'n roll every few minutes, and more hippie shenanigans than you could throw beads at, Ang Lee takes this story and makes it interesting, with a bit of finesse and great performances, especially from Demetri Martin.

As much as I enjoyed most of the first half of the film, things started to unravel as it continued into the start of the concert. I didn't mind that there weren't any real good looks at any concert performances, but why throw in random scenes of drug usage that lead Elliot neither further or any closer to his ultimate goal at the end? Maybe it was just Ang Lee feeling the need to include an obligatory acid trip scene (given that this is Woodstock), or maybe it was just what actually happened to the real life Elliot Tiber (this is based on his book). Either way, Taking Woodstock sadly ended not with bang, as it should have, but with a whimper.

Cannes Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Find more posts: Cannes 09, Opinions



Sounds awesome. I will watch.

Adam on May 15, 2009


Adam, did you just read Alex's review?...I wouldn't say it sounds awesome based on what I just read. If anything I feel a bit let down because I was looking forward to this having been raised in White Plains myself.

peloquin on May 15, 2009


Is that the whole review?

adrian on May 15, 2009


Yes. He's at Cannes. I think he's a bit busy to put out a thousand billion word review.

Itri on May 15, 2009


peloguin didn't know Alex was the gospel to a review

nelson on May 15, 2009


Itri: Alex Defense Force It could have been much more descriptive and longer, but this will do since it's not coming out for awhile.

Mikey on May 15, 2009


Demetri Martin sucks at acting

DoomCanoe on May 15, 2009


I think it would have been better if it was like that movie "Dick." It feels a little like the movie "Dick," in that Eugene Levy is playing Max Yasgur. For some reason. If it was more of a scrweball/revisionist movie, it would have been cooler.

Greedo the Rodian on May 15, 2009


Hey #2... Peloquin!! He says it sounds awesome because he has a mind of his own and can think for himself! I am really getting pissed off at the idea that everyone in this world thinks everyone else should like the same things and have the same opionions as they do. Or should believe everything they hear without finding out for themselves. And who the fuk is Alex Billington to influence anyone into giving something a try or not. And who the fuk are you to criticize someone for having an opinion and not being a sheep?! We are individuals with individual minds, just because you need Oprah to tell you which book to read every month doesnt mean anyone does... prick.

kick it on May 16, 2009


Wow...that's pretty rough...I was just checking to see if I missed something that he saw because the review I read was negative. If he would have already seen it and had an opinion that'd be one thing, but to say it sounds awesome based on a bad review just confused me.

peloquin on May 16, 2009


I refuse to support Demetri Martin (even if i support the director, although BIG strike against Lee)

Voice of Reason on May 17, 2009


But......was 11 when the event took place and read the paper about the event. This movie was so bad, I was tempted to ask for EVERYONES money back!

Wasn't there on Sep 2, 2009


You know, some films are still too creative for my perception... Am I missing out??

Beads on Jun 14, 2010

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