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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Taking Woodstock for a spin

     Ang Lee's (Brokeback Mountain) newest film came out on DVD a week ago.  Taking Woodstock stars Demetri Martin (The Daily Show With Jon Stewart) as a young man who, trying to help his parents avoid foreclosure on their hotel, brings the famous Woodstock festival to his hometown, turning it upside down.  While many in the town protest, others enjoy the commerce and attention.  Soon a million hippies invade, bringing their peaceful, drug-filled, sex-fueled ways.  The movie meandered at a slow pace, but stayed interesting.  It was a journey of self-discovery for not only Martin's Elliot, but also his parents, played by Henry Goodman and the fantastic Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).  Both delivered superb performances, proving that you are never too old to undergo a transformation and be true to who you really are.

     Adding to the humor and full picture of this small town was Eugene Levy (American Pie, Best in Show) as the farmer who rented his fields out for the festival and pocketed every penny he could, and Liev Schreiber as Vilma, the cross dressing security guard.  The latter, in particular, was a surprising delight.  It was a part that was a real departure from Schreiber, and his mother hen rendition could not have been more appropriate.  He played huge roles in each of the main character's plots.

      The tone was great, and unlike many recent releases, the concert was never really shown in the movie.  That wasn't what was important.  It was a character-driven piece, seeking to capture a moment and spirit in American history, and largely succeeding.  Plus, there was lots of non-sexual nudity, something not so common in modern cinema.  I would highly recommend this film.

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