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...U Environmental and 

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mycology Agriculture 


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Forestry 


24 Ak y lS & KM’l'iRrAliWll'iM 


llmrsttiy. august 27 .2009 • www.lho^lnviiyonlinc.cy 


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Environmental Sciences 


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Taking Woodstock is heavy on quirks, light on music 




COMPILED BY AARON LEVIN 


THE TOP 5 LOCAL BANDS TO 
WATCH THIS FALL 


1. THE WICKED AWESOMES! 

Burnt puke-garage and psychedelic 
mizrahi-surf. The red lights of your mind 
will burst with wrecked synth-iines and 
skirt-chasing guitar riffery. 


2. GOBBLE GOBBLE 

Named after that ridiculous restau¬ 
rant along the highway, this eight-bit 
fluorescent electro-pop explosion 
has been packing dance floors and 
destroying more minds than the Oil City 
Roadhouse. 


3. THE FAMINES 

Stripped naked, raw two-piece mission¬ 
ary garage-punk. Leave the lights on 
and your body will melt. They have the 
design and packaging game on lock. 


4. SANS AIDS 

One-man-bands are the new two-piece 
garage-punks. This sludgy, lo-fi loser- 
fest has been packing basements for 
the last four months. Amazing stuff! 


5. OUTDOOR MINERS 

Their soon to be released 7" on Pop 
Echo Records contains a hit so powerful 
that your mom will be blasting it from 
her SUV convertible. I know. It doesn’t 
make sense. 


filmreview 


Taking Woodstock 

Directed by Ang Lee 

Starring Demrtri Martin, Emile Hirsch, Imelda 
Staunton , and Liev Schreiber 
Opens Friday August 28 


DAVID JOHNSTON 
Opinion Editor 


For a film supposedly about one of the greatest 
music festivals of all rime, it's a conceit of Taking 
Woodstock that we never see any bands actually 
perform. Aside from a quartet of Sunday-school 
boys rocking out to Manfred Mann's "Doo Walt 
Diddy.” the closest we ever get to an actual well- 
known band is a blaze of lights, seemingly miles 
away, individuals lost and unrecognizable amid 
the glare and crowds. 

No, Ang Lee's film starts out about normal 
people, shot from the oft-befuddled perspective 
of our everyman hero. Eliot Teichberg (new¬ 
comer Demitri Marlin), the youthful president of 
the Bethel Chamber of Commerce, representing 
the town of White Lake. He spends his days filing 
bureaucracy and his nights desperately trying to 
keep liis crazy Jewish parents’ failing motel from 
going under. Tltis isn't made any easier by the 
admittedly played-out antics of said crazy Jewish 
parents (Henry Goodman and Imelda Staunton, 
both falling perfectly into type), nor is it eased by 
the fact that no one in their right mind would ever 
visit the town of White Lake. 

So naturally. Eliot jumps at the chance to sign 
a contract with some far-off company called 
"Woodstock Ventures” to book some famous acts 
for the town's normally-tame summer music fes¬ 
tival. A few businessmen shake hands, a tew hun¬ 
dred acres of cow pasture are procured, things 
spirals out of control, and suddenly Eliot finds 
himself at the center of the famed festivaL 

It might be because of the cameo by Eugene 
Levy as a chocolate-milk-loving farmer, but the 


first half of the movie lias a very Wailing For 
Guffman aesthetic, where the wacky locals and 
hippies need to band together to hold the festi¬ 
val. No eccentric stone is left unturned in the 
characterizations. Aired oddities include: man 
in suit falling into swamp, troupe of oft-nude 
"actors" living in Eliot's turn, and Liev Schreiber 
stealing every scene he can as an ex-marine drag 
queen named Vilma who somehow becomes the 
Teichbergs’ security chief The eccentrics start to 
get riped after a little while, since the only drama 
is wondering whether these walking quirk facto¬ 
ries he able to hold the festival. Will they? Will 
they? (Spoiler alert: They wilL) 

And thankfully Lee gets his act together by the 
time Woodstock actually starts, and the rest of the 
film gently unfolds intoa love letter to the whole of 
hippie culture. The sequences of Eliot wandering 
through the crowds are no less packed with quirks 
and side-stories, but here they become a kind of 
mosaic wash, beautifully filling the background 


with a general vibe of free-spirited optimism. 

Martin does his best to navigate the quirks he's 
assigned, but Eliot s character details — his talent 
for terrible abstract paintings, or his blink-and- 
you’U-miss-ii coming out of the closet — come 
off as things Lee feels obligated to include to 
olxain his "tosed-on-actual-events” sticker. The 
movie almost holds together as a biopic. but 
works so much better as an ode to the times; to 
that regard, it's an admirable, light end-of-sum- 
mer comedy. 

A memorable appearance by Paul Dano and Kelli 
Gamer as a hippie couple (complete with manda¬ 
tory Volkswagen van and subsequent add trip) 
sums up the movie pretty neatly. They mention 
how they got close to the music, but couldn't see 
anything more than Eliot ever would. "Like ants 
making thunder.” they hazily describe it. Well, 
exactly. Taking Woodstock wants to be about the 
little people, but it’s the lights and sounds that 
end up resonating much more strongly.