Elliot Teichberg: Hello, I need you to connect me to something called Woodstock Ventures.
An Ang Lee summer comedy. That's a fun start off sentence. This film is a behind the scenes look at the story of the young man who setup the legendary 1969 Woodstock Festival. The film meanders a bit and has a few strange characters, but it is mostly entertaining.
Set in 1969, the film follows the true story of Elliot Tiber(played here by Demetri Martin), an aspiring Greenwich Village interior designer whose parents owned a small dilapidated motel in Upstate New York. He held the only musical festival permit for the town of Bethel, New York and offered it and accommodations at the Catskills motel to the organizers of the Woodstock Festival. As word got around, most of the town was not fond of the idea, but hundreds of thousands of people were headed to cow country to see the concert of a lifetime.
This film is very much about what went on with the setting up and managing of this concert from Elliot's perspective and not the concert itself. We actually don't see the real concert at all, save for a few shots in the distance and hearing the music in the background. What makes this impressive, is that Ang Lee made this entire film without incorporating actual footage and the film looks damn convincing throughout.
I was also impressed with a lot of the style Lee showed in this film. A number of very long takes that impressively show off the scale of the event along with numerous uses of split screens, and an acid trip sequence certainly make this film interesting visually.
A number of the performances are pretty good too. Always a Liev Shreiber fan, he turns up to play an ex-marine transvestite and plays the character completely straight. Eugene Levy has a small role, but who doesn't like Levy? Paul Dano and Emile Hirsch show up to over act a bit. Elliot's parents were very well handled, as immigrant Jews who just want their son to help them at their hotel. As far as Demetri Martin goes, I found him adequate. For a stand up who has his first major film role here, he didn't do a bad job, he was just in place as this character and did what he needed to do.
The soundtrack is of course good as is the score from Danny Elfman.
The problems I had mainly revolve around its structure. The film seems like it just meanders with not much developing for a while. Certain elements turn up early on that seem like they could lead to something, but they do not. Its these small elements plus a dragged out ending that seemed to have me distracted.
Still, its an enjoyable film for the most part and tells a fine story, with good work by Ang Lee and many of the supporting characters.
Vilma: Go see what the center of the universe looks like.