Earlier this week I had an opportunity to catch an advance screening of the new Ang Lee film Taking Woodstock.
The movie has a great script that sparkle with the gifts of one of the best casts I've ever seen. Everyone is believable and wonderful in their roles. Demetri Martin, someone I knew only for his comedic work, is sweet and endearing as Elliot Tiber, the man who put the festival planners and Max Yasgur (played by the wonderful Eugene Levy) together. His story (told in his memoir Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life) is about the motel-owning parents he's trying to help (the brilliant Imelda Staunton and Henry Goodman). But the story is also about Tiber's coming to terms with his sexuality and trying to figure out what to do with his life. The acting is all top shelf and some of the roles are worthy of Oscar consideration starting with Staunton role as the overbearing mother who manages to offer both the funniest and painful moments in the film.
I left the movie thinking that Ang Lee may be the most Gay-friendly director working today. Throughout his long career he's turned in some of the most thoughtful representations of Gay life — from the couple in his early Wedding Banquet to the now classic Brokeback Mountain. In telling the story of an iconic festival that took place months after the Stonewall rebellion, Lee doesn't skimp on the connection. In many ways the Stonewall rebellion, which occurred a few months before Woodstock, is represented by Liev Schreiber's oscar-worthy performance as Vilma. She arrives as an angel of sorts who helps Elliot loosen up and live his life. These performances are the shiniest in a field of diamonds.
I just saw the movie a few hours ago but I highly recommend this film to our readers. It was a delight — the music is good too if only secondary to the story of love and community that comes shining through. – Dan
(FOR THE RECORD: The screening I attended was sponsored by The Nation magazine. These are my opinions only. Take it as a friendly suggestion!)