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4.3 out of 5 stars
Taking Woodstock [DVD]
Format: DVD|Change
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on 8 July 2011
Even though this was recently made it captures the time period very well indeed.I was not at Woodstock,because I was in the UK at the time,but it was similar Hippy scene over here too,all innocent,exciting time when music, art,fashion and most important,a raising of human consciousness was happening very quickly.The late sixties were a very important to the planet,the youngters broke away from the old order,and Woodstock helped to do that, ending the Vietnam war, on a personal note... bringing Santana to the world,without Bill Graham, who took an active part in the Woodsock event,they would have never been the international success they still are today.
Thanks Bill,RIP.
I have watched this 3 times so far,its very funny,lighthearted and educational there is no music on the Woodstock stage,but plays in the background at times.
The acting is brilliant,and shows very well how it really was at that time in the States and eventually throughout the whole world.
Highly recommended especially for people who are old enough to be in the Hippy movement at that time,if you weren't then perhaps it wont mean so much,but is still a good movie to see.
There are some good bonus scenes too.
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on 8 February 2011
I first saw this film on Sky a few months ago and loved it - probably due to being part of the 'Woodstock generation' and always regretting not actually being there. Although there is very little of the actual concert (one very distant shot)the film accuratly captures the mood of the slow death of the dreary repressive 50's and the birth of the new culture. Nothing much happens but it happens very beautifully. This is a very gentle and moving film and I highly recomend it.
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on 19 July 2013
A pleasent movie about some very ordinary people creating a piece of History.
I originally saw a trailer for this on another dvd, i also like the work of the director Ang Lee i dont think this movie went public at the cinema as his other projects have, but as always with Ang the movie is about relationships and people. If you enjoy woodstock music and the original musical movie give this a try you just may enjoy watching this, showing how a piece of history happened.
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on 11 July 2011
For anyone who's ever had a good experience at a music festival, you'll love Taking Woodstock. It's such an upbeat film, you can't help but love it. The film is mostly about the organisation of the event and Elliot(Demitri Martin) experiences with the various people arriving. The film shows as all real Music Festival people know, that it's not all about the music but just getting involved with the masses of people. Elliot doesn't even get close to a main stage yet has a life changing experience just by being a part of the event. The film has a fantastic cast that includes Eugene Levy, Emile Hirsh and Liev Schrieber and Demitri Martin who is superb in the lead role.
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on 10 November 2010
I am absolutely mystified at the indifferent or lukewarm reviews this movie had from professional critics on its UK release and furious with myself for having missed seeing it in the theater. Watching this on DVD I was pleasently surprised at how good a film this was, how subtle but detailed (and as always how delicate)was Ang Lee's touch...

I went back and read some of the film critic reviews and the major whine they all had was either 'its not Brokeback Mountain, or Lust Caution' or 'nothing much happens' or 'nothing of the concert' is shown. For heaven's sake! This is the true story of a young man who had the permit for a rock concert to be held at his hometown of Bethel ,and who on hearing the organizers of 'Woodstock' had their permit rejected, first at Woodstock and then at a place called Walkill, called up Michael Lang- the guy who was putting the concert together, and suggests he hold the concert there- all this with only days to go before the announced date, and got Lang introduced to Max Yasgur etc. And as his parents owned the motel there, how that became the base and starting point.

Lee's instincts were absolutely right to film a story about what went on at the periphery of a soon to be historic event. Why bother with the concert at all- we have the brilliant WOODSTOCK documentary for that. With his split screen and one or two touching references Lee pays tribute to the movie anyway. As for the criticism about 'nothing much happens' well what they means is the movie is random (like in real life folks!) and probably does not have the neat 'story line' cliches which I so detest! Demetri Martin who plays the young man Eliott Tischberg is fanstastic, but even his performance has been called 'lifeless'by some!!!

It really is the perfect companion peice to the Michael Wadleigh film, and I think time will prove it so. Another thing to mention is how authentic everything looks- from the set design to the costumes to the props (that you may only see flash past as the camera pans) to the brilliant photography and lighting (the title sequence is Zen poem)and it really is like a time machine. A lot of care and money had gone into this film but I guess people's mislaid expectations killed it on its relase.
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on 29 September 2014
If you look at the cover art then I think you will only be put off. If you are looking instead for the music and authentic original footage then this is the wrong film. If you define your viewing habits with action movies then this will seem slow. For people who are seeking character, comedy that takes some thought and an opportunity to be taken back to the 1960s and can find their fix of original performance elsewhere then there is a really rewarding movie.

Taking Woodstock does a great job of showing the other sides of such a huge event. The local politics, the "dis" organisation, the accidental nature of getting such things going and most of all the cultural clash that stretched through the 60s and which Woodstock became the poster child for. Imelda Staunton provides an exceptional performance as the tortured, Jewish refugee mother - and I say that from the perspective of not being a particular fan. Some have criticised the lack of focus on the main protagonists sexuality. For me that is absolutely suited to the treatment though. I want to know this guy's story and who he chooses to sleep with is one tiny part of that. All the main characters grow-up in one way or another during the film and this is both believable and helps convey the sense of scale of the event. Visually it does a great job of conjuring up the times with some superb immersing visuals culminating in some wonderful near-field landscapes suitably built from the people taking part. This film does a great job of transporting you there.

On the other hand Demetri Martin's portrayal is too flat, too emotionless for me. Films of biographies do need to be careful not to fall into the trap whereby people who write them carve their own part out as the one and only level-headed reasonable-thinking player in events. The edges of their character, their limits and failings need portraying too to give true shape to the events around them. Exasperated Elliot, nervous Elliot, frustrated Elliot, over-enthusiastic Elliot are all way too similar. Hence the four stars.
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VINE VOICEon 10 April 2010
First off, this is not a Woodstock documentary. I it is a story that just happens to center around the event. The film is an adaption so it has a general script to follow and still has to adjust to become a visual experience. Some people were added others were combined for brevity.

Not saying you will appreciate the movie any better but you defiantly need to watch the voice over commentary to see what was trying to be produced.

I thought it was cute but nothing worth re-watching. Not that I would ever take those substances that were imbibed in the movie, however this was a much more accurate rendition than the earlier movies attempted to portray.

The introduction of the Character returning from Vietnam was for the movie and a tad over the top. However, I had just come back myself as was stationed at West Point (not too far away). I actually made it to the muddy parts but never to the stage. Other people may have been virtuous however, I know someone who made a bundle on selling a combination of oregano and tea mixture (which smell similar to other substances).

Any way I applaud the effort to make this film. I just do not see it having any social redeeming quality.

Well one exception "No stuping in the bushes", Sonia Teichberg.

I only saw the Blu-ray version so could not compare to other versions.
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on 10 March 2010
I already have the Blu-Ray, so here is the A/V quality rundown. "Taking Woodstock" is visually very good with clear, highly resolved images, although often presented with some soft-focus. There is very little grain on show even in dark scenes, and close-ups have good depth and plasticity. Ang Lee's beloved tic of combining split-screen images which surfaces a few time here also provides a good chance to evaluate image quality, with all scenes benefiting from being in HD - no detail is lost, no matter how small the section of split-screen. To maintain the 60's look, the film is not a full-on HD showcase where every scene 'pops', but nor has Ang Lee resorted to any annoying tricks like starkly reduced colours, as seen in 'period' BDs like "Baader Meinhof". The only true drop in quality comes from cut-in shots which are (or look as though they are) from the original festival; these are presented in 4:3 which gives an aspect switch reminiscent of "The Dark Knight", only this time with bars at the sides!

Sound quality is very good. Dialogue is well balanced in relation to music and other effects, and particularly the music comes across very well. Surround sound is not used extensively, although unsurprisingly it does announce itself for the scene of the acid trip.

The film is very fresh and original. Very little of the festival and its music is on show here; the film is about the human background. It is about a young man being held back by a domineering and old-fashioned mother, and about the encounter of the 60s big-city counter-culture with the staid, provincial older generation that is trying to pretend it doesn't exist.

Acting is very good with Imelda Staunton and a not initially recognisable Liev Schreiber being amongst the best. I watched this almost reluctantly having never liked an Ang Lee film before and was very pleasantly surprised. Not a film of high drama and the spectacular, but a well-scripted, well-acted grown-up tale providing plenty of laughs and insight into a time and event now the stuff of legend.

At the time of writing the BD is cheaper than the DVD on Amazon. Well worth a spin!
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on 12 October 2015
This film was wonderful. I had seen some bad reviews of it, but I think that must be to do with the slow pace and style of the movie just not suiting those particular viewers. As somebody who relishes scenery and a wonderful setting backed up by characters who you get to gently observe through the length of the film, I absolutely loved it and will be watching it again soon.
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on 18 March 2016
A review of the Blu-ray
I'm not sure why this movie got such a bum rap from critics and punters alike. From what I can gather they couldn't comprehend a movie about the legendary 1969 Woodstock music festival that did not feature any of the actual artists' performances that appeared on the famed stage. Which means they are missing the point of this film. It's not about "Woodstock", it's about how it happened. Love it or not I think it's another fine movie from Ang Lee. If you're a fan of this film I strongly suggest an upgrade to Blu-ray. To put it simply it looks stunning and unlike the DVD release its also has a number of bonus features about the making of the film. If you want the music there is already a 1970 documentary (now available in a director's cut edition) that gives you a pretty thorough feel of the festival itself including a large chunk of the music. For me, Taking Woodstock is a nice little trip back to 1969 for those of us that were not there either because we were too young or got stuck in the traffic jam. Cool, nice one Elliot!
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