Ang Lee's 'Taking Woodstock'
How the director portrays the 'epochal' 1969 music and art festival
Director Ang Lee's "likable, humane" new movie Taking Woodstock "is not an attempt to re-create the epochal Woodstock Music and Art Fair" of 1969, said Stephen Holden in The New York Times. We do get "an immense traffic jam, fields littered with trash, and hippies gleefully sliding through mud," but Lee mainly uses his lead character (played by Demetri Martin) to prove "that contemplation of historic events from the margins can be more revealing than from the hot center" (watch the trailer for Taking Woodstock).
Most of Taking Woodstock "busies itself with the lead-up to the main event," said Anthony Lane in The New Yorker, and "you can't deny the smiling mood that wafts through the film like incense." But unfortunately, "not once does a character's show of feeling stir you, send you, or stop you in your tracks, and the loss is unsustainable."
Taking Woodstock also "proves that the decade is still prone to the laziest, wide-eyed oversimplifications," said Melissa Anderson in The Village Voice. Lee's "facile" movie features "inane, occasionally borderline offensive portrayals of Jews, performance artists, trannies, Vietnam vets, squares, and freaks," and "does nothing more than recycle the same late-'60s tropes seen countless times since the Carter administration."