Mythologizing the Worst Generation
by John Nolte
Aug 28th 2009
In the late 1960s there were young people in college and starting
families, young people far from home fighting and dying for the
sovereignty of our allies in Vietnam, young people just starting to
see results from their brave and noble fight for Civil Rights, and
then there were the dirty, filthy hippies the most spoiled,
narcissistic, ungrateful species in the history of mankind whose
legacy of drug addiction, STDs, the misery of single motherhood and 2
million left dead on the Killing Fields of Cambodia, still
reverberates forty years on.
Ang Lee's "Taking Woodstock," a halfway competent but ultimately
erratic, unfocused story of how "three days of peace and music" came
to the small town of White Lake, New York and changed for the better
the lives of those who embraced "the spirit," not only celebrates the
drug abuse and loveless sex that defined the "Woodstock Generation,"
but goes beyond caricatures and into outright anti-Semitism to
condemn those who didn't.
Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), a young Jewish man in his early
twenties, once again abandons his work as a struggling Greenwich
Village artist to help his elderly parents (two Jewish stereotypes
played by Henry Goodman and Imelda Staunton) through another summer
season in the Catskills. Their "resort," a filthy, dilapidated motel,
is about to be foreclosed on and probably should be, but Elliott
convinces an exasperated banker to give him one more season. But
foreclosure is inevitable and Elliot knows it, and while his friends
go to San Francisco with flowers in their hair, his dreams take a
back seat to this annual guilt trip sponsored by his overbearing mother.
There are probably enough seasonal tourists to make for a nice
profitable business. The problem is mom and dad. Her iron-willed
hostility and suspicion towards everyone, her inexplicable cheapness
refusing to even change sheets between guests chases all kinds of
business away. And Dad? Well, he's too beaten down by her and
fatalistic to care.
As a matter of procedure and as President of the local Chamber of
Commerce (a tired group of seven or so small business owners who meet
in a dark barn), Elliot calls for votes issuing local permits,
including one for his own annual music festival maybe a nice string
quartet this year. When the nearby town of Wallkill cancels a major
music festival, Elliot begins to understand the power of a one-dollar
permit and makes a phone call.
Led by long-haired and oh-so mellow Mike Lang (Jonathan Groff), the
Woodstock organizers (hippies backed by a battalion of
briefcase-toting lawyers) descend on White Lake in helicopters and
limousines with military precision. Lang comes off as a shrewd
hustler and mercenary businessman willing to put on a "groovy" front
if it means suckering the dumb hippies into believing they're not
making The Man rich, but in the film's best scenes, he meets his
match with Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy), a kind but cunning dairy farmer
with the land the festival needs.
The story hits a stride as the organizers move in, hand out bags of
cash and with real savvy, manipulate, charm and, when necessary,
bribe whoever stands in the way of their harnessing the resources
necessary to handle the coming human wave holding those
hundred-thousand (and counting) tickets already sold. Through the
eyes of Elliott, watching the machinations of the impossible come
together is infectious but Ang Lee isn't interested in having us
merely observe. Lines are about to be drawn.
Before Woodstock arrived, living in Elliot's barn was a starving
theatre troupe into the avante garde and the removing of their
clothes (translation: untalented bums who spend their food money on
drugs and now run the NEA). In a truly ugly scene they put on a
performance for the locals, including small children, that ends with
them ripping off their clothes and screaming "Racist warmongers!"
This is not only a turning point for the townspeople but for we the
audience. Unforgivable behavior is presented as humorous, and this is
just the beginning.
With their town swamped by dirty, filthy hippies, their roads blocks
and their lives completely disrupted, Director Lee refuses to give
even a hint of humanity to those who oppose Woodstock. They, and
therefore we, are instead portrayed as intolerant bigots, the kind
who defile a Jewish-owned motel with swastikas and "Die, Faggots Jews."
In other words, you're either with Woodstock or you're against it.
And through Elliot we're shown why we should be with it. In a
sloppily structured subplot, Elliot finds his inner homosexual and
beds down with a burly construction worker and later will enjoy an
acid-infused, bi-sexual ménage a trois in the back of a van that's so
enlightening and liberating, man, he finally works up the nerve to
find his true narcissism, tell his parents to back off and go pursue
his own dreams.
The military takes its usual beating. Emile Hirsch plays Billy, a vet
just back from the 'Nam, man, and riddled with PTSD. The "good"
Marine is played by Liev Schreiber … in a long blond wig, pumps and a
dress. Of course, Schreiber's character is the Obi Wan Kenobi of the
story, the wise and brave one, the only one who's got it all together
because he's true to who he really is.
Fine, whatever, right? A movie about Woodstock from this Hollywood is
bound to do a clunky, overbearing job attempting to mythologize an
event so morally appalling God turned on the sprinklers to get the
shit off His lawn. But the portrayal of Elliot's mother is something
else … by far the ugliest Jewish stereotype you've seen in a long time.
"Money-grubbing Jew." That's not figurative in "Taking Woodstock,"
it's literal. This horribly cheap woman who milks every penny from
her customers, overcharges at every opportunity and uses the
Holocaust to guilt the world, literally hoards money below the floor
boards at the expense of the well-being of her own family. And when
we leave her, she's literally lying in bundles of bills, grasping
them, claiming them for her own. The image is revolting, the
heavy-handed symbolism amateurish, and the whole film just another
excessive exercise in self-involved, baby boomer masturbation.
Taking back Woodstock
Deconstructing the myths of counterculture's high-water mark
Published August 27, 2009
by Peter Hemminger
In Taking Woodstock, Ang Lee's ode to the landmark music festival
that has served for 40 years as shorthand for peace, love and good
ol' fashioned youthful rebellion, the case is once again made that
Woodstock was a high-water mark for youth culture. A free concert
attended by almost 500,000 hippies, freaks and open-minded fellow
travellers, the fest proved to the world that a group of weirdos
could accomplish something grand, peaceful and maybe even transcendent.
There's no denying Woodstock's impact, but nothing's as perfect as we
like to think. Forty years after the fest, it's about time to start
examining the mythology that's built up around the three-day love-in.
It wasn't about the money
Of course it was. As Demetri Martin's character says in Lee's film,
"It's all about commerce." In the beginning, Woodstock wasn't a free
concert. Tickets cost $18 each, roughly $105 adjusting for inflation,
and the only reason the festival became free was that the organizers
couldn't pull together the ticket booths and fencing in time. Combine
that with the fact that far larger crowds than expected were on their
way and the organizers really didn't have much choice.
Granted, this one's fairly well-known, but it's still worth
mentioning. Like Woodstock '94 and '99, like Coachella and Sasquatch
and Bonnaroo, Woodstock was supposed to be a profit-making venture.
And thanks to music licensing and a film deal with Warner Bros. (a
move that'd likely earn eye-rolls from the modern D.I.Y.
counterculture), it's earned plenty over the years.
In fact, one of the few genuinely free festivals of the era was held
only four months later, at the Altamont Speedway in California, and
we all know that one didn't go so well.
The music defined an era
Again, there's no denying that some hugely talented acts were at
Woodstock. Creedence Clearwater Revival, possibly the greatest rock
'n' roll band ever, was there. They played at 3 a.m., though, and
frontman John Fogerty famously complained that everyone was asleep
except one guy half-a-mile away.
The Who, the prototypical art-rock band, was there, too. The sound
was so terrible that singer Roger Daltry called it the worst show the
band had ever played. The Grateful Dead's set was plagued with
technical problems, as were many others given the wet and muddy
conditions. Many of the songs that eventually saw release on the
Woodstock soundtrack albums were edited down into more listenable
sections, cutting out some of the go-nowhere noodlings that wouldn't
work on record and adding to the fest's mystique.
It's also worth mentioning that a lot of the acts at Woodstock
weren't exactly big names. It's a bit of a cheap shot to single out
Sha Na Na, who played the second-last set of the fest, just before
Jimmy Hendrix, when names like Quill, Keef Hartley, Tim Hardin and
Ten Years After draw the same blank stares. A lot of big names
weren't at Woodstock, either no Zeppelin, no Doors, no Dylan, and
of course no Stones or Beatles. Joni Mitchell reportedly blew off the
fest to go on The Dick Cavett Show.
The fact is, as far as the music that defined the era, Woodstock
doesn't do a much better job than, say, the Newport Folk Festival of
1965 the one where Dylan went electric. It might be picking nits,
but when you're talking cultural landmarks, nits matter.
You could even argue that the main reason Woodstock is as
well-remembered as it is, musically, is because of Warner's
documentary and the soundtrack that came with it. The genuine event
was marketed right back to the boomers a countercultural ideal made
more palatable by the marketing arm of a multinational conglomerate.
If that's the case, Woodstock is the watershed moment, if not
necessarily the origin, of the development of rebellion as a
lifestyle accessory, a commodity that can be bought and sold. That's
where the Woodstock myth starts to get dangerous.
It'll never happen again
Here's where things get interesting. As a mass countercultural
moment, Woodstock seems pretty unique. Even four months after the
fest, Altamont despite being only a single-day event with fewer
attendees couldn't replicate the Woodstock spirit, ending in three
accidental deaths and one homicide. (Reports vary, but it's generally
agreed that Woodstock had either two or three deaths, all accidental,
including one heroin overdose.)
Concerts on the scale of Woodstock have happened since, though. For
example, there was the US Festival, put on by Apple Computers' Steve
Wozniak in 1982 and '83. The '83 concert, which took place over three
days on Memorial Day weekend, had an overall attendance of 670,000,
including 375,000 on a single day, to see the likes of Quiet Riot,
Scorpions and Judas Priest. Yes, it was for-profit, but so was
Woodstock and Wozniak lost about $20 million between the two
festivals, which is as much of an act of charity as any on the part
of Woodstock's organizers.
That was a quarter-century ago, though, and these days the US
Festival is better remembered as a Simpsons punchline than a cultural
touchstone. Lollapalooza, the travelling festival founded by Jane's
Addiction's Perry Farrell, seems like another decent option, given
its generation-defining ambitions and its anything-goes cultural
approach, including freak shows and open-mic poetry. But Lollapalooza
made its pilgrimage to fans, not the other way around, so it never
had the same single-weekend impact.
So where's the modern Woodstock? Well, that's trickier. In the late
'60s, and even in the '80s, the festival circuit wasn't what it is
today. Back then, it made sense for an event like Woodstock to draw
half-a-million flower children for one weekend, even if no one had
predicted it would be quite so many. These days, you have Sasquatch,
Coachella, Bonnaroo and the Pitchfork Festival, to name a few,
splitting up the indie-music demographic and drawing hundreds of
thousands of fans between them. With so many options, it's no wonder
that no single event stands out.
It's also worth wondering what's actually considered counterculture
these days. Calgary, one of Canada's most conservative cities, has an
annual, family-oriented event where thousands of people get together
to listen to everything from unsigned hip hop artists to folk
veterans to aging first-wave punks, where long hair and Hula Hoop
dancing are considered normal and drug enforcement is lax. It also
has a week-long festival where the city's venues host the cutting
edge in independent music from around the world a solid week where
the downtown core becomes a feast of under-explored talent. If a city
of one million in the heart of big "C" conservatism can boast that,
what's there to rebel against?
And again, remember that most of the acts at Woodstock, especially
the bigger names, were all on major record labels. Indie labels as we
know them today hardly existed before the punk movement. If an event
like Woodstock came together today, it'd hardly seem "underground"
it'd basically be Virgin Fest. Genuine fringe concerts are things
like Shambhala, an event in B.C. that draws 10,000 people for three
days of literally non-stop dance music (and quite a bit of drug use,
too). They're things like The Gathering of the Juggalos, an event by
and for fans of Insane Clown Posse. In other words, they're events
that cause people to give you the side-eye when you mention that
Time to start looking elsewhere
With a counterculture that's been split into countless factions both
by big-business marketing and by evolving ideologies, it's unlikely
we'll ever get another concert that's as well attended and is deemed
as significant as Woodstock that myth has already been made. The
more we look at the concert as the height of a cultural charge,
though, the more we do exactly what the people who attended Woodstock
were trying to avoid, namely buying into the previous generation's
standards. If we want to look for the next defining moment, it's time
to start looking beyond concerts.
What about Burning Man, which draws 50,000 people a year to the
middle of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada for a celebration of
radical self-expression and communal living? The scale may be smaller
than Woodstock, but the statement's just as clear, and if anything,
it's even further divorced from mainstream notions and commercialization.
If that's too small in scale, how about Obama's inauguration?
Estimates put the attendance at between 1 and 1.4 million attendees.
The pre-concert alone (there's that music thing again) had 400,000
people. Sure, rallying behind the most powerful authority figure in
the free world doesn't have the same instant-cool cachet as getting
stoned and listening to The Who, but there's something to be said for
working within the system, too.
What about something more abstract? These days, people with
alternative perspectives don't need to gather in any particular
place. That's what social media is for connecting like-minded
people from around the globe. Sure, it's often frivolous, but every
once in a while, something like the tweeting of the Iranian election
happens and suddenly the importance of the new media comes to light.
The ability to talk to, sympathize with and spread the message of
someone half a world away, all in the space of an instant that's at
least as significant as half a million people just getting along for
Why this all matters
None of this is to belittle Woodstock. Every culture needs its myths
and Woodstock is actually quite a good one, as far as these things
go. For the baby boomers (the ones who were there and the ones who
just say they were), it's a crystallization of ideals that never
quite panned out otherwise. For the generations that've followed,
it's a concrete reminder of the power of youth to buck the system and
to scare their parents, which is arguably valuable in and of itself.
The danger, though, is in seeing Woodstock as a limit, the apex of a
movement that will never be reached again. Naturally, that's how the
boomers want to portray it it's their myth. It'll continue to be
shown that way in movies like Lee's Taking Woodstock and in
publications like Rolling Stone, and that's their prerogative. In the
us-versus-them language of the '60s, though, Woodstock is now the
establishment. It's 10 years older than the 30-year-olds the hippies
weren't supposed to trust. To use it as a measure of rebellion, as a
definition of countercultural heights, is to let them define the
terms, and that's the exact opposite of the way it should be. Forty
years ago, no one thought a rock concert could change the world. It's
time to remember that other things can, too.
What Woodstock really was
August 30, 2009
H.L. Mencken, probably America's greatest journalist of the past
century, often enraged his readers with remarks such as "Puritanism
is a haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
So, during this month of August, puritanism must have truly suffered
as millions of Americans celebrated the 40th anniversary of
Woodstock, or more correctly, "The Aquarian Exhibition," which
unfolded in 1969 on 600 acres of cow pasture in Bethel, N.Y. In
addition to Bob Dylan, it had a population of about 200 country folk.
The previous large gathering of American dissidents had been a year
earlier when, in Chicago, the Democratic National Convention nearly
erupted into an urban insurrection over Vietnam. "The streets belong
to the people," was the shout heard around the world.
Through 1969's spring and early summer, calls were published in
underground newspapers for thousands of young people to attend "a
three-day orgy of music, dope and communal experience."
And the call was answered by an estimated 450,000 people, mostly in
their late teens and early 20s, from all over the country. They came
on foot and cycles, by bus, car and plane. And many listened to the
advice of Jon Grall writing in RAT, telling them they must act like
"hip soldiers." He continued: "The main principle to follow is to
share. So share your food, share your dope, share your body."
The four organizers, all in their mid-20s, believed they would become
millionaires. They printed and sold $18 tickets (125,000 tickets sold
in one day in Atlanta) and the crowds rolled in. The ticket
collectors all arrived, each carrying a little black box with change.
But there was nowhere for them to go: The organizers had forgotten to
put up gates or entry booths.
Woodstock was saved from becoming a fiasco by New York City's
radicals -- the Crazies, Students for a Democratic Society, Women's
Liberation, Gay Power and Vietnam Veterans for Peace.
Under the fierce control of a Lower East Side group -- "Up Against
the Wall (expletive deleted)," their usual greeting from the police
-- the new immaculate fences were torn down and we (including your
columnist) waited for the first of 34 groups to perform.
Soon after 5 p.m., first up was folk singer-guitarist Ritchie Havens.
The electronics were not all working and carpenters were still
hammering, but Ritchie strummed and sang for three hours!
Called back for one encore after another, he began to improvise on
the old spiritual "Motherless Child" and, later saying that he was
inspired by the crowd, turned it into "Freedom," a new anthem for the
From then on -- for three days until dawn on Monday -- one act
followed another, from Sweetwater and the Incredible String Band to
the Grateful Dead and Sha-Na-Na to Jimi Hendrix. There was spasmodic
reporting of the event in the media. But the huge crowd was peaceful
and no arrests were made.
Yet there was a total disregard for the law. All types of drugs were
on sale and they were sold to all ages with glee. A lake, enlarged
from a cow pond by the incessant rain, became the focal point for
skinny-dipping and sex.
The instruction to "share" was taken very literally.
The revolutionary contingent led by Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Paul
Krassner and Jeff Shero -- together with a score or so of their
friends -- maintained a degree of control and helped persuade Gov.
Nelson Rockefeller not to mobilize the New York National Guard.
The rain, the mud and the density of traffic kept the area closed
with concert performers and workers using helicopters to move from
one point to another.
As dawn was breaking on Monday, Jimi Hendrix, a military veteran from
the First Cavalry, a guitarist and a star of the event, brought it to
a conclusion by playing his version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and taps.
The Washington Post this month recounted that it was "stunned by
Woodstock's innocence." What superb stupidity.
As Hendrix ended his dirge, hundreds of dozing draft evaders and
drug-saturated fools struggled to get to their feet to give the
clenched fist salute -- while, in all probability, relatives and
friends were being killed by the Viet Cong.
It wasn't "innocence" 40 years ago. It was a disrespect for American
culture and standards that, at last, was being publicly expressed.
The results have now matured and we should look with apprehension
toward Woodstock's 50th anniversary.
The waste of Woodstock
Sometimes as a history teacher, students will ask you unanswerable
questions. For instance, just a few months ago I received this one:
"What's the single biggest moment in world history?" On the list of
tough questions, that is undoubtedly at the top. Initially, my
Amero-centric mind started thinking of great moments in American
history like Yorktown, Appomattox, D-Day, or Armstrong's stroll on
the moon. Then it dawned on me that yes, the world did exist before
1776, and there were ample other choices from which to
choose. Finally I answered (outside of school hours so as not to
anger the ACLU) that either the birth or the resurrection of Jesus
Christ was without question history's most significant occurrence. Silly me.
If only I would have waited a few more months to respond, I would
have come across the TIME magazine article that had already answered
the question 40 years ago by declaring that Woodstock was "History's
Biggest Happening." I'm so embarrassed. How did it not dawn on me
that 400,000 rebellious young people collectively rejecting decency,
morality, and hygiene trumped all other world events, including the
moment when the Creator took on our injured flesh and dwelled amongst us?
With this year marking the 40th anniversary of the pig sty in upstate
New York, there is a renewed effort by ex-hippies to make their
"movement" into something meaningful and deserving of
recognition. While New York Times' columnist Gail Collins lamented
that today's youth will never have such a truly "cut off" experience
like Woodstock, author Paul Krassner writing at the Huffington Post
suggested that the gathering was a "mass awakening" of young people
who were "deprogramming themselves from a civilization of
sadomasochistic priorities." He posited that Woodstock amounted to
an "evolutionary jump in consciousness." Right. If Mr. Krassner can
honestly conclude that a half-million pampered brats stealing their
way into a ticketed event, engaging freely in sexual promiscuity,
abusing illegal drugs, and complaining about society's expectations
that they grow up is a "higher consciousness," perhaps he is still
suffering the aftereffects of the $6-a-capsule LSD that he admittedly
used at the event.
Despite the best efforts of Krassner, Collins, and so many others,
anyone capable of even a modicum of research can uncover how much of
a sham it is to consider Woodstock some sort of "counterculture
revolution." Simply compare the reality of Woodstock to what the
participants were supposedly rebelling against, and you realize the
insanity associated with attaching any meaningful significance to
this drug fest.
First, the hippies claimed to reject the unjust and immoral
capitalistic system that disproportionately hurt the poor, and
benefitted the corporate elite. Never mind that the entire event was
financed by Ivy League educated businessman John Roberts (the heir to
the Polident fortune), and was held on the land of uber-wealthy
conservative Republican farmer Max Yasgur. Yasgur made $75,000 for
renting this unused portion of his property to the lefties. Correct
me if I'm wrong, but that sure sounds like capitalism.
Even the psychedelic rock bands participating in the event were
contaminated by such "capitalist greed." The Who charged over
$10,000 for their appearance alone. One wonders if it ever dawned on
the enlightened liberal masses there in the mud pit of degradation
how many of the victimized poor they could have fed with ten grand?
Secondly, the "make love not war" crowd saw Woodstock as an
opportunity to crystallize their intense opposition to American
involvement in Vietnam. They grumbled against the American military
as a vehicle of subjugation and dehumanization -- that is, until they
needed them. In what has to be one of the greatest ironies in
American history, the spoiled children of Woodstock ran out of
food...and turned to the National Guard to feed them. As Michael
Tremoglie wrote, "The Left needed those warmongering, baby killing,
murdering monsters of the military establishment to drop food from
helicopters to save them."
Perhaps that, more than anything else, is what makes me bristle when
I hear those who mocked responsibility and scoffed at morality
propose that we erect a monument to their hedonism and teach the
importance of its impact. We already have a monument to honor those
from their generation who are worthy of honor: it's a wall in
Washington, DC, with roughly 58,000 names of those who stood for
something far greater than depraved self-gratification.
On second thought, perhaps the self-obsessed ex-hippies are
right...perhaps there is something meaningful to note about
Woodstock. It stands as a national embarrassment and blight on an
entire generation of otherwise responsible citizens. Citizens who
chose honor over squalor, duty over rebellion, sacrifice over
self-indulgence, and discipline over immaturity. It reminds us of
that age-old reality that while some choose to set aside childish
things, others choose to define their existence by them. That is the
true legacy of Woodstock...and it's certainly not one worth celebrating.
Peter Heck (email@example.com) hosts a two-hour, daily call-in
radio program on WIOU (1350 AM) in Kokomo, Indiana. "The Peter Heck
Show" comments on social and political issues -- and doesn't shy away
from recognizing how faith influences politics.
'Woodstock' Is One Boring Trip, Man
Ang Lee revisits the famous field but finds no drama
SEPTEMBER 4, 2009
By JOANNE KAUFMAN
In the summer of 1969, half a million people gathered in and around a
600-acre field in Bethel, N.Y., for what was officially described as
three days of peace and music, and less officially as three days of
sex, drugs and rock 'n' rollthe Woodstock festival. If you can
remember it, so the old joke goes, you probably weren't there.
Former flower children who were on the scene and on psychotropics for
those three fab, far-out days but are hazy on the details, and those
who weren't there but want to know what happened, won't get much help
from "Taking Woodstock," the gentle, ambling Ang Lee comedy that's a
few tokes short of groovy.
Mr. Lee has said in interviews that he didn't want to make a concert
film, and he has succeeded: There's no concert here, no Joan
Baez/Jefferson Airplane/John Sebastian/Janis Joplin performance
footage in "Taking Woodstock." It's a situation akin to "Julie &
Julia" without a kitchen, and the songs by Melanie, Richie Havens,
Ravi Shankar and the Grateful Dead that make up the soundtrack place
the movie in the '60s without particularly placing it at ground zero.
In fact, the festival seems to be little more than a backdrop for the
filmmakers' chief focus: The coming of age of Elliot Tiber, né
Teichberg (Demetri Martin), from whose memoir "Taking Woodstock" was adapted.
That's fine. Rather, that could have been fine. Often, the best way
into the story of a significant event or epoch is through a bystander
or a minor player. Consider the Cameron Crowe stand-in played by
Patrick Fugit in "Almost Famous." But neither Elliot's story nor Mr.
Martin's performance offers much in the way of drama or wattage.
A closeted homosexual, the diffident Elliot puts his Manhattan life
on hold to help shore up the family businessa seedy Catskills motel
with the improbably grand name El Monacothat is being managed, or
rather mismanaged, by his loony, domineering, Holocaust-survivor
mother (Imelda Staunton) and his browbeaten father (Henry Goodman).
Amenities are few, guests fewer and the mortgage payment long overdue.
Hearing that the neighboring town has revoked a permit for a music
festival and sensing an opportunity to improve the family's fortunes
while freeing himself from a parental death grip, Elliot phones one
of the event's producer/promoters (Jonathan Groff) to offer his help
and his hostelry. The very good Mr. Groff deftly combines a
businessman's cool focus with a stoner's beatific vibe.
"Taking Woodstock" mines all the cultural touchstones of the era and
rounds up all the stereotypes as though checking off a to-do list.
There's the televised shot of the moon landing; the traumatized
Vietnam veteran; the acid trip on the VW bus (just one of several
overextended, underwhelming sequences); the uptight characters freed
of inhibitions after their unsuspecting consumption of hash brownies.
And there's an avant-garde theater troupe that establishes its bona
fides as hip and happening by stripping. One scene of baring all
makes the point very nicely. Twice suggests a poverty of
inventiveness on someone's part. Perhaps as a sign that the times
they will soon be a-changin', big time, Liev Schreiber has a turn as
a cross-dressing former marine whose example nudges Elliot toward
After "The Ice Storm," the Oscar-winning "Brokeback Mountain" and
"Lust, Caution," Mr. Lee may well have wanted to lighten up and
journey in a different direction. "Taking Woodstock" is hardly a bad
trip; just a very inconsequential one.