If I did not know that Taking Woodstock was an Ang Lee movie, this trailer would certainly not clue me in. There’s nothing here (except for the multiple frames, reminscent of Hulk, but actually a lift from the documentary Woodstock) that looks or feels like an Ang Lee movie. Which of course beggars the question ‘What is an Ang Lee movie, considering he’s made everything from Brokeback Mountain to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?’ Well, maybe longing. Longing is a big part of Ang Lee movies.
Aaaanyway, this trailer in no way says Ang Lee to me. In fact, it says ‘totally generic boomersploitation comedy.’ But a Wikipedia check of the source material – Elliot Tiber’s Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, A Concert, And A Life – reveals that Tiber had more going on than just working at his parent’s motel, as the trailer might lead you to believe:
Tibor said he lead a closeted life in the early 1960s as he spent time managing his parents El Monaco Motel and being President of the Bethel Chamber of Commerce and then at the same time participating in the gay scene in New York.
Tibor in his memoir said that he was at the Stonewall Inn on the night of the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969.
“We barricaded the doors to keep the cops out, but when we realized that we outnumbered them, we unblocked the exits and ran out onto the street. A group of us started yelling, ‘Gay power!’ Within seconds, the Stonewall Riot was underway…A bunch of us rocked a cop car back and forth, then overturned it. More people, gay men and lesbians, showed up to join us.“
Less than three weeks after Stonewall, Tibor read that Wallkill, Orange County, New York on July 15, 1969 had pulled the plug on the planned Woodstock Festival at the Mills Industrial Park northeast of Middletown, New York.
Tibor had a permit for the White Lake Music and Arts Festival, a planned chamber music event at his motel. Tibor contacted Michael Lang and pitched the idea of having the festival on 15-acres on the edge of White Lake by the motel.
“I think it cost $12 or $8 or something like that…It was very vague. It just said I had permission to run an arts and music festival. That’s it.“
When Lang said the venue was too small, he introduced the producers to dairy farmer Max Yasgur.
Hmm. Now that sounds more like a story Ang Lee might be interested in. Let’s hope that the trailer simply represents an attempt to sell the movie to Demetri Martin’s white middle-class fanbase, and not a whitewashing of Tiber.
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey