Thursday, December 31, 2009

FitzGibbon/Doherty's A FILM WITH ME IN IT: 2010 arrives with a crack, black comedy

Twits of various sorts -- male variety -- people the new and delight-
fully funny black come-
dy A FILM WITH ME IN IT, from its two main characters -- about as useless a pair as you're likely to find -- to the subsidiaries. And while the funny, bloody events that transpire do so due to accidents involving a falling-apart apart-
ment, you can as easily see them as part of god's grand design of human error and utter laziness with which he has blessed his "children." It's been awhile since I've found myself in a nearly-empty screening room in which the few critics present were all laughing aloud this often.

The concept here is a fine one, and the tone's on target, too. We often hear the phrase "pitch-perfect" used in reviews, but it's seldom as "perfect" as you'll find here -- which is all the more surprising because the film deals with several grizzly deaths, one after another, and one funnier than the next -- due to the very clever way the director (Ian Fitzgibbon, shown above) and writer Mark Doherty (shown below, left, and cleaning the bathtub further below) prepares us for all this. We go right along with it, too, laughing mightily, despite the grim proceedings. This is due partly I think to the deaths being "accidental" rather than murderous, which might make them creepier, more suspenseful and such, but would not allow us to laugh our heads off while remaining as guilt-free as we do.

We may be guilt-free, but the two leading characters get off not quite so easily, for the accidents occur because of the sheer laziness and stupidity of our boys (Mike Judge should love this movie), underplayed to a "t" by writer Doherty and Dylan Moran (shown above, right). Memorable barely begins to describe these two. Doherty, with his constant hang-dog depression, and Moran, clearly suffering from the delusion that he is god's gift to everyone, could hardly be better, making perfect foils for each other and catnip for viewers in need of some great laughs.

"Deadpan" is an oft-usedword, and the films it describes are too-oft delivered in a semi-comatose state. That is not the case here. This is deadpan done right -- as funny as it gets: subtle, original and outrageous. From the beginning, with Neil Jordan playing a director for whom Doherty is auditioning, A Film With Me In It has great fun at the expense of the movies, never more so than during its finale, in which Jonathan Rhys Meyers makes an appearance. Along the way, some terrific actors -- Keith Allen, Amy Huberman and Aisling O'Sullivan -- do terrific jobs, managing, just like the leads, to make us laugh out loud while giving performances that are absolutely truthful and real.

January is a month notorious for providing the dumping ground for bad movies, with the first films released in any new year often among its worst. If A Film With Me In It is an example of what we're in for this year, 2010 might prove to be a moviegoer's blessing. The film opens New Years' Day at the IFC Center, which is becoming -- now with its five screens -- an ever more indispensable part of New York's independent and foreign film scene. Check show days and times here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Are you telling me -- in all honesty, in good conscience, without your fingers and legs crossed -- that audiences were not hooting their heads off and talking back to the screen (and the idiot characters on it) during the theatrical showings of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY? If not, if audiences were even remotely frightened by this piece of Blair-Witch-did-it-so-we-can-too nonsense, then we have indeed reached the depths of Mike Judge's Idiocracy, and quite awhile sooner than any of us imagined.

From the outset, the behavior of this "couple" is so ludicrous (a young woman who, since childhood, has been pursued by the otherworldly but never tells her boyfriend of three years until recently; a boyfriend more interested in technology, video recording and ouija boards than in his girl; what -- there's only one demonologist in the whole of Southern California?) that any identification with our protagonists goes quickly out the window. And stays there.

I have nothing more to say about this utterly stupid film except that you can now purchase or rent it for your own delectation. Dummy.

"New" from Tennessee Williams: Jodie Markell's TEARDROP DIAMOND debuts

TrustMovies has a confession to make: He has never been a great fan of the work of Tennessee Williams. Perhaps this is due to seeing mostly second-rate productions of the man's plays. Or maybe from sitting through second-rate movies made from many of those plays. (Streetcar is an ex-
ception, and so is the 1976 TV adaptation of Eccentricities of a Nightingale, but Sud-
denly Last Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Fugitive Kind, Sweet Bird of Youth, Summer and Smoke, The Rose Tatoo and Night of the Iguana are not.) Consequently, from his youth in the late 1950s, hearing actors deliver this guy's dialog became, to this playgoer/
moviegoer's ears, the sound of "camp" -- long before that word had entered the gay lexicon. How else do you explain why so much of Williams' dialog has end-
ed up in the mouths of female impersonators? It's so good?
No: It's so juicy -- a fine fit for over-the-top melodrama.

Still, Williams fans and non-fans alike should welcome the "new" screenplay from America's "great" playwright: THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND, a heretofore unproduced screenplay written by Williams in the late 1950s, anthologized some years later, and now brought to the screen via actress and fledgling director Jodie Markell (shown above). So far as I am concerned the film makes a fine, if typical, addition to the Williams canon, bearing many of the writer's good qualities (the ability to capture a character through dialog, while capturing the "South") and bad (the further ability to take that dialog, character and the South itself past real and humane and right off the charts into camp and cliché).

The film is cer-
tainly a visual treat, what with its lush south-
ern landscapes, costumes and colors. Its cast is a good one, too: from Chris Evans (right) as the sexy, hon-
est "hero" to Ann-Margret as southern high society, Ellen Burstyn as the family's aging black sheep, Will Patton as Klein's drunken dad, Mamie Gummer as the heroine's intelligent and decent friend and hostess, Jessica Col-
lins as the "other girl," and in the lead role, Bryce Dallas Howard (below) as the kind of gal you immediately recognize as a younger version of Blanche DuBois. And there, the film's problems begin.

Ms Howard is passable in the role. Her accent wobbles a bit from time to time, but that's the least of it. She makes it clear that her character, Fisher, is troubled, insecure, and bordering on nut-case level, but she lacks the ability to pull us over to her side and make our heart break for her. We observe her, but that's about it. By having to play a Blanche-in-training and by making this young woman so immediately sophisticated and naive, knowing and dumb, sexual and so little-girlish, she quickly wears out her welcome to those around her in the film and to us viewers, too. But the movie goes on for another hour or so. Nonetheless, Williams' themes -- honesty being trumped by tradition, faux sophistication as a cover for insecurity, and especially telling, a mature willingness in this later work to allow his lead characters to settle for what they can get rather than all they might want -- come through fairly strongly.

The rest of the cast has a fine time playing the semi-old South (the 1920s), though the occasional moment may seem a tad too modern. Markell draws good performances from everyone in the cast, and Burstyn (shown left, looking fabulous at the film's Toronto fest premier) seems especially strong in this, one of her better roles in recent years (the other is in The Stone Angel). The young director points her camera (the fine cinematography is by The Deep End's Giles Nuttgens) in the right direction at the right time, and generally does a creditable job for a first-timer. I can't imagine that the film will not prove mandatory for buffs of Williams, if only as a curio to add to his oeuvre.

The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond opens Wednesday, December 30, in New York City at the Quad Cinema and in Los Angeles at Laemmle theatres in Encino, Santa Monica, Pasadena and West Hollywood.

Photos are from the film, except for that of Ms. Markell.
The photo of Ms Burstyn is by C.J. LaFrance,
courtesy of Getty Images North America

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A guy and his ox: OLD PARTNER, from Chung-Ryoul Lee, opens at Film Forum

Chung-Ryoul Lee's OLD PARTNER (Wonangsori) brings you up close to -- not just death and dying but -- lives lived in the senior years without much vari-
ation, little hope and what appears to be a zero degree of joy. Despite some truly lovely photography, with compositions that are breathtak-
ingly beautiful, all the more so because of their simplicity, the lives we see are full of drudgery, and the film Lee has made from these lives threatens to descend into that same kind of hell. That is does not (though for me it comes awfully close) is to the credit of the director, who in this, his first docu-
mentary, captures an elderly Korean farming couple and their ox -- the old partner of the title -- with as much tact as feeling. The two humans seem barely to be surviving, and the local veteranarian has diagnosed a soon-to-happen death for their ox, who looks more than ready for it.

Director Lee provides no narration and but a few super-titles of explanation, along with the subtitles for the spoken words (there are not that many), so we don't know what kind of life these people led in their younger years. All we see is a single photograph, though mention is made by the wife of children who would not want to be burdened with these parents. So we watch and wait, as their tiresome and constant work goes on, and the husband in particular, tries to find a way out of their problems. When he takes the ox to market, no one is buying, and the old farmer seems to be the butt of many jokes.

He picks and then feeds a passel of dandelions to the creature, much to the consternation of his wife -- who notes that he wouldn't do the same for her. This woman is a complainer -- first, last and always -- and while she certainly seems to have every right to do this and much to complain about, she does grow tiresome. Her husband is going deaf, though from time to time this deafness seems to be by choice. Who can blame him, considering what he is constantly forced to hear.

The ox, a symbol if ever there was one, is as much an object of derision by the wife and the locals as of love from the farmer. This is the animal's movie in a major way, and I doubt you'll be able to erase the image of those big brown eyes -- sad and enduring -- from your mind.

Old Partner opens at Film Forum tomorrow, Wednesday December 30, for a one-week-only run.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Haneke's THE WHITE RIBBON: Something new & less puzzling from the Caché-maker

At the beginning of Michael Haneke's new film THE WHITE RIBBON, the narrator, who sounds quite the ancient fellow, tells us that his story about what hap-
pened in this little German town de-
cades ago could perhaps clarify cer-
tain events that oc-
curred later. What? Herr Haneke (Code Unknown, Caché) is finally making things clear? Well, yes and no.
The White Ribbon is certainly among the most seemingly straight-for-
ward narratives that this German writer/director (shown at left) has given us. In a movie-making class by himself, Haneke is an expert craftsman whose work sometime approaches art. It's a sad, often despairing art, but unless you are one of those who must look at the world through the rose-colored (and too often hypocritical) glasses of religion, or one who wants his movies mainstream -- and happy, goddamnit! -- this is art that reflects all too well the state of humanity.

From those first quiet words of the narrator, we move quickly to a small German town in which a couple of troubling events have just happened. We see them only cursorily, but their aftermath (and the aftermath of that aftermath) we -- and everyone in town -- become obsessed with and stricken by. Terrible things continue to happen, which we see in glimpses and/or from a precise distance. But the things themselves, with one slightly shocking exception that takes place by a body of water, we do not see firsthand. Nor do we learn exactly why they happened or specifically by whom. Enough hints are dropped along the way, however, that by the (again, quiet) conclusion that takes place in -- how sweet and appropriate -- church, I did not need to know anything more. Nor did I suspect, as I have in other Haneke's films -- Caché, for example -- that things were being deliberately withheld and that games were being played with the viewer.

Nor did I feel, as has been often stated about this writer/director, that the man is misanthropic. If you possess any kind of reasonably clear view of our world and its history, you would hardly confuse reality with misanthropy. In any event, a filmmaker who can give us two characters as genuinely kind and hopeful as are the young school-teacher (above, left) and his even younger love, the Baroness' nanny (above, right), then show us their courtship in such a forthright, deeply-felt manner, is hardly a misanthrope.

The scene between that teacher and his prospective father-in-law (above) is terrific: another good example, were one needed, of Haneke's non-misanthropy, as is a splendid little scene between older sister (below, right) and younger brother (below, left) regarding truth and death. While you may counter my non-misogynist "take," with the fact that all these characters -- indeed everyone in the film with whom we spend enough time to know who they are -- eventually caves in to power, tradition, religion and the herd instinct, does not this response tend to be history's rule rather than its exception? How would any of us have acted, had we come of age in Nazi-controlled Germany? The movie implicitly asks this question, among many others.

Along the way, Haneke offers us examples of the misuse of discipline and its result; a lecture about masturbation from father to son (compare this sad, closed speech with the amazing, freeing letter on the same subject from Dalton Trumbo to his son in the film Trumbo); the end of a "love affair" that is certainly among the nastier and more hurtful ways to say goodbye that the screen has given us. The movie is shot in black-and-white (by Christian Berger) and the performances are all of a piece: slightly stiff yet very real, taking us back to a time when formality, even among the lower classes, was given its due.

Those lower classes, by the way, get their due, too, from Haneke -- as does royalty (the Baron is played by the wonderful German actor Ulrich Tukur), clergy, peasants and everyone in between. The Palme d'Or winner at the most recent Festival de Cannes, The White Ribbon take a hard look at the kind of cast-in-stone philosophy and hypocritical behavior that foment major trouble down the road. Though the movie views the road behind us, what it has to say will be no less true for the road ahead.

The White Ribbon is so very well made on every level that I cannot help but recommend it. My only quibble might be that what Haneke is telling us is nothing we have not already heard. Still, it's a message that bears repeating, since we clearly seem unable to either digest it or act on it. The film opens this Wednesday in New York City at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Film Forum, with a national rollout to follow beginning in January. You can check all scheduled release dates, cities and theaters here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Have a good, bawdy laugh: Watch some OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES

Got an old Jew in your family? We have. She's 95, as a matter of fact, and so we sat her down in front of the TV and popped in the DVD machine this little disc (only 45 minutes long) entitled OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES. She laughed. And laughed. Not at every joke (many of them are... how might she have put it in her day: dirty?) but those weren't the ones she failed to grasp. Rather, they were the ones after which she laughed the hardest. But some jokes depend on one's knowledge of events, people or things with which our nonagenarian may not have been familiar (or by now have forgotten). In any case, after the show, Great Grandma proclaimed herself very happy to have seen it.
You know what? We were, too.

Many of the jokes are very funny, and the folk who tell them are funny, too -- in their own odd way. I don't believe any of the performers are professional comedians. They're just old jews, enjoying themselves immensely and, as directed by Sam Hoffman, passing that enjoyment on to you.

Old Jews Telling Jokes is available for sale from First Run Features and for rent via Netflix or other online (and maybe even some in-store) video rental establishments.

THE CHASER -- after festivals, On-Demand and even DVD release -- opens theatrically!

This should be an interesting test case: a Korean police procedural/serial killer film from 2008 that won a raft of awards in its home country, stirred up a fuss on the festival circuit, made its NY debut almost a year ago in the 2009 Film Comment Selects series, was then picked up by IFC and shown On-Demand for months, followed by a DVD release (as a Blockbuster Exclusive). And now? A theatrical bow.

THE CHASER (Chugyeogja) is an unusually riveting, dark and creepy thriller directed by first-timer Hong-jin Na (shown just above) and written by Won-Chan Hong & Shinho Lee. It certainly deserves its theatrical release. But backward? When I inquired of IFC how this all came about, I was told the following: "The film has some fans, both in the press and in the industry, and people were pushing for a limited big-screen release. We had a little space so decided to give it a shot. We'll see what happens." Indeed. And once that release is completed, I'll try to remember to post the results. Yes, I realize that most people will be more interested in whether Avatar beats out Sherlock Holmes at the box-office (just heard from Variety: it did); for me, given its recent distribution history, how this Korean creep-fest fares theatrically seems far more interesting.

My original review of The Chaser, when it was available On-Demand, appears here. If you haven't seen it by now, I recommend you do. It opens Wednesday, December 30, at the IFC Center in New York.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

James DeMonaco's STATEN ISLAND proves one of the year's top "specials"

Near the top of his "special list" this year (more about that soon) will reside a film that has just come out on DVD this week and was viewed by TrustMovies this morning. He was actually debating whether or not to send it back to Netflix unwatched -- being busy and all -- but is very happy that he decided to stick the DVD in the machine and give it a few minutes.

Once hooked, his entire morning went by the wayside.

Should you read the description for STATEN ISLAND, the first outing as director from writer/producer James DeMonaco (shown, right), you'll probably think, "Oh, another mobster movie." Well, yes and no. Peruse some of the comments on either the IMDB or Netflix sites, however and, whether they are pro or con, you'll get the distinct sense that you're in for something different. The very brief theatrical opening the film had in New York City resulted in a couple of good reviews but several bad ones. Even as the credits appear, you may notice another surprise. The film comes to us partly via Luc Besson's Europa Corp., with M. Besson listed as a co-producer.

Almost from its beginning Staten Island is by turns dark and comic but always lyrical. A lyrical mobster movie? Exactly. And it is Mr. DeFranco's lyricism -- quiet, ever-present but never forced -- that defines his movie. That, and his relevant and sad theme: men -- alternately dumb, evil or simply plodding -- attempting for all they are worth to leave something important to the world, or at least do something that will be noticed.

DeFranco's lyric quality comes through in many ways: In his dialog, which is charming, off the wall and oddly sweet; in his humor, which often has these same three qualities; in the visuals, with their alternately dark or happy color palette; and especially in the performances of the four leading actors, Vincent D'Onofrio (shown two photos up surrounded by his henchmen, and above, in a treehouse), Ethan Hawke (below, right), Seymour Cassell (below, left) and Julianne Nicholson. The very last shot of D'Onofrio, for instance, with his legs in the air, is as dark as it needs to be yet remains funny and lyrical. All four of these actors, usually quite good, join forces here to create an odd but viable world in which terrible/bizarre things happen from which humor, grace, even tears will flow. Cassell is as good as I have ever seen him (with not a single line of dialog), Hawke continues to surprise, Nicholson grounds the films with her alert and honest presence, and D'Onofrio is (as usual) equal parts strange and real. His is the most difficult role and he nails it: burrowing in & coming out on the other side.

As a writer, DeFranco begins with a funny, satirical narration/
history, then tosses us into the middle of things, curling his plot in on itself (even the plotting is lyrical), going back several times to one pivotal point in which a loaf of bread is tossed. All the quirky behavior and situations we see begin to make sense fairly soon, however, and the filmmaker effectively uses every last quirk to bring home his theme. All comes together in a finale and denouement that are both just in desserts and rich in feeling.

I am probably overselling this little film. But, hell, it's one of my favorite (and certainly my most unexpected) movie experiences in many a moon. Give it a try, I implore you.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday week at the Walter Reade: Sicilian Mafia, Iraq and Composer's Block

Well, why not? As we broach that festive week between Christmas and the New Year, closing out of one of the worst years -- socially, economically, politically -- of my seven-decade lifetime, why not exult in a group of movies (generally downbeat but very well made) said to be the most popular of those shown at the Walter Reade Theater during 2009. In addition to Marco Amenta's very fine drama The Sicilian Girl (shown above), based upon the from-life tale of the young girl who stands up to her family and community in order to see justice done; Kathryn Bigelow's critically successful and much-award-laden The Hurt Locker, and the one all-out feel-good movie of the group, Hernán A. Golfrid's Music on Hold, look for Götz Spielmann's revenge drama Revanche, Martin Provost's award-winning biopic of outsider artist Séraphine, Giuseppe de Santis' Bitter Rice (from the recent Life Lessson/Italian Neo-Realism series, Ray's Pather Panchali, Welles' Macbeth, Tarkovsky's Solaris, Mitch McCabe's Youth Knows No Pain and Citizen Havel, Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek's documentary about Václav Havel.

I've seen most of these films, but must go back for a second look at Amenta's The Sicilian Girl (my original review can be found here), one of my favorite films from last year's Open Roads series of new Italian cinema -- which certainly deserves a theatrical/DVD/On-Demand release here in the states. (It plays tomorrow, Saturday, December 26, at 1pm and again Tuesday, December 29, at 6:15pm.) I'll also have my first experience with Bigelow's Hurt Locker -- which, after all the awards it has won over the past few weeks, I hope will live up to its hype.

This series, titled Back by Popular Demand and sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, starts tomorrow, Saturday, December 26, and plays through Thursday, December 31. The complete schedule, with dates and times can be found here (click and scroll down).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

At-home holiday viewing? Here's a DVD-don't: FOUR CHRISTMASES

My gosh -- it's Christmas Eve! So Merry Christmas to any of my readers disposed to have one. And late Happy Chanukah to readers of that persuasion (we celebrate both in our household).

Does TrustMovies have any happy holiday movie tips to offer? Not really -- except to bypass, if you have not already been suckered in to it -- FOUR CHRISTMASES (above), the recently-out-on-DVD lame-brainer of last year. Despite A.O. Scott's good review in The New York Times, which (because almost all the other reviews were so hateful, and we often agree with Mr. Scott) led us to try the film, we found it alternately stupid and distasteful, rarely funny and finally sappy -- not a good recipe for holiday joy. (Evidently most of the Times' readers felt closer to our assessment than to Mr. Scott's. Check out the comments on the page. Yikes!)

If you're in NYC, you can always hit the IFC Center for the annual showings of It's a Wonderful Life. But really, you don't need a movie about the holidays to enjoy the holidays. Any good film should suffice. Then go home and celebrate. Or go to bed. And dream...

Today's a short post, for I must get the beef stew into the slow cooker so that the extended family -- kid, grandkids, in-laws! -- will have their nourishment tomorrow.

Till next time...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

DVD catch-up: Ang Lee's sweet, smart TAKING WOODSTOCK

Think of TAKING WOODSTOCK as the flip side of Woodstock, that 1970 movie with the music by Michael Wadleigh. If you must have the music, then rent that one. Meanwhile, if you -- like me and almost everyone else in these United States -- missed seeing the theatrical release (its box-office barely topped $7 million) of this lovely coming-of-age tale from Ang Lee (shown below), thanks to reviews that ranged from so-so to worse, I'd suggest you give the film a shot. The movie garnered only 49% fresh on RottenTomatoes' critical rating, but interestingly enough over 4,000 IMDB voters rated it a 7 out of 10, and nearly 17,000 Netflix viewers gave it a 3.2 out of 5. Sometimes film-goers are more astute than film critics as to what is worth seeing. Part -- only a small part -- of my enthusiasm may be chalked up to lowered expectations; I'll be surprised if this one does not end up on my list of favorite films for the year.

Might as well say it upfront, however: The main reason for the movie's critical drubbing and also for its lack of what we might term "popular appeal" is its gay element. In one of the more ham-fisted judgments on the film, Mark Peranson, in his Cannes 2009 assessment in the summer '09 (# 39) issue of Cinema Scope magazine, says: "Ang Lee made what probably can be called both the stupidest and gayest film about Woodstock imaginable". Mark, honey, when the main character of a coming-of-age movie is gay, are you really asking for more heterosexuality? But of course you are, as do, on a regular basis, maybe 70 to 80 percent of male viewers -- even though Woodstock and the hippie era was notori-
ously given to fomenting bi-sexuality and sexual experimentation. You're also younger than I, who remembers the whole Woodstock/
Hair/hippie scene from a more personal perspective.

I have no idea of the sexual proclivities of director Ang Lee (he's married with family, but then, so was TrustMovies for 20 years) but I do know that the film that first put Lee on the map (The Wedding Banquet) was gay-themed, as was the film that won him his Best director Oscar (Brokeback Mountain). In any case, Taking Wood-
(and yes, the word "taking" has ramifications political, social, economic and sexual) is all about a boy on the cusp of manhood and how he helps bring the fabled event into actual being by being himself smart, businesslike, forward-thinking -- and the head of his little community's Chamber of Commerce (and not coincidentally the co-author of the book on which the movie is based).

In (relative) newcomer Demetri Martin (above, center), Lee has found a delicious young actor with just the right mixture of "push" and reticence. In Martin's hands, his character Elliot seems a young man on the cusp of just about everything, trying his best to step forward gracefully without falling in. If this actor never makes another movie (or one anywhere near as good), I'll remember him well for this. In an enormous cast that includes everyone from Paul Dano (flanking Martin above, right: blond and gorgeous) and Kelli Garner (above, left: also blond and gorgeous, but we're used to that mix from her) to Henry Goodman and Imelda Staunton who play Elliot's sad parents (as Catskill Jews, both these Britishers are terrific), Emile Hirsch as a baby-faced VietNam vet, and Eugene Levy as the farmer on whose land Woodstock takes place, it's Liev Schreiber (above, right), who is most memorable. So centered, sexy, and on-target in each idea and thought he puts forth in his role of, yes, a transvestite security guard, he nearly steals the movie (this is the kind of part, and the playing of it, that Oscars were made for).

Ang Lee always likes to get "behind" the subjects of his films to see how things really work: the "key parties" of The Ice Storm, the Civil War in Ride with the Devil. In Taking Woodstock, he shows us how, via chance, timeliness and the various skills of a multitude of people, one of the most famous concerts in the world came to happen. Yet, rather than the concert itself, which we glimpse and hear only from afar, it's everything else that seems important: the fate of the rundown motel Elliot and his folks occupy, the bright-eyed concert promoter (played by Broadway's Jonathan Groff) and his retinue (among which is Mamie Gummer), the spaced-out hippies hoping for something special -- and mostly Elliot himself, who gives everything he has but then gets everything he could have hoped for from this wildest of weekends. I wouldn't be surprised if you do, too.

Taking Woodstock is available now for purchase or rent.