Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin) is the unlikely focal point of Ang Lee’s freewheeling, fractured, but often exuberantly evocative look at the Woodstock Rock festival, Taking Woodstock. Set in 1969, Elliot is forced to leave his artistic New York life to return home and help his parents (Henry Goodman, Imelda Staunton) at their rundown Catskills motel. When a rock festival falls through in a nearby town, he contacts the producers and steers them to Max Yasgur’s (Eugene Levy) farm, and before long thousands of hippes begin descending on the town. Director Lee (from a screenplay by James Schamus) also focuses on Elliot’s surprising new look at his parents who are galvanized by the onslaught, and his own struggle with his gay identity. In his TV comedy act Demetri Martin has a calculated quirkiness, bu he has a wonderful shambling sweetness on screen. Other standouts are Jonathan Groff as a beatific rock promoter, Emile Hirsch as a disturbed Vietnam vet, and Liev Schreiber as a cross-dresser in charge of “security”. A scene where Elliot drops acid in a van really resonates, and the movie does captures that youthful sense of optimism right before it soured.
Taking Woodstock Opens Wednesday!