Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lee's "Taking Woodstock" - no takers

The surprisingly tepid response from both the critics and public to Ang Lee's sauntering, most companionable "Taking Woodstock" probably has less to do with the movie itself than with the legendary event that it documents and celebrates in a shrewdly peripheral way - 1969's Woodstock Music & Art Fair, staged on a dairy farm and immodestly billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music."

Certain people have become sick of hearing about it. So, you know, guilt by association.

Frankly, for a while now, I've had this hunch that people have had it up to here with any boomer milestone and, by extension, with most things that apply to the 1970s, movies included - and perhaps with good reason.

It's become an over-mythologized decade.

Perhaps Sam Adams put it best in his terse review of the 2003 documentary, "A Decade Under the Influcence" in Philadelphia's City Paper. "About as much fun, and as informative, as hearing your gramps reminisce about the good old days," Sam wrote of the doc that goes on and on about the wonderfulness of '70s flicks, spinning his new perspective.

Not everyone easily buys into the '70s hype - and the most revered Woodstock is one of the casulties of this mindset. But don't penalize Lee's new film. It's thick with sun and good cheer. Really.

Note in Passing: The cross-dressing role that star Liev Schreiber plays in "Taking Woodstock" brings the actor full circle. He also played a cross dresser in his very first feature, Nora Ephron's "Mixed Nuts" (1994).

Now you know.


John Kaiser said...

You beat me to the Liev Schrieber punch.

Anonymous said...

as a boomer myself, my sense is that we LOVE reading and hearing about ourselves; it's the non-boomers who are sick of it. But there are more of us than them, so rock on!

jbryant said...

It's hard not to have some 70s nostalgia when you look at the state of current Hollywood film culture. I dread to think what the studios will be making 30 years from now that will cause middle-aged people to look back fondly at the halcyon days of Transformers 2 and GI Joe.