Click here for the review.
Something I didn’t even have the time or space to get into in the review — not without severely trying the limits of the readers’ patience — is how the movie’s cheapness and the way it lazily taps into a manufactured vibe of a mythological entity known as Woodstock is such a sad turn from the way things briefly were. For a while there in the 20th century, there actually was a counterculture, and they emerged as a buying force so powerful that you got pop products that spoke eloquently about the struggle for social justice and the idiocy of war. It’s not that I think youth has changed too much since then; it’s that they’re no longer buying that stuff in the same way. The major pop stars of today aren’t making songs about politics or war; you can tell because the few who do (Springsteen, Green Day, a couple others) are instantly called out and labeled as different and used as a kind of weapon in a political ground fight. (I can’t even begin to dissect that Dixie Chicks had a hit single that attacked Vietnam but were ostracized for speaking out against its Generation Y counterpart in Iraq.) But that atmosphere is precisely what would make that kind of pop art accessible today if artists would just make it. It’s almost like we’ve returned to that polarized time in the 1960s when some young people were authoritarian squares and some were pushing for a better way to live.
And so part of the movie’s failure is the way it doesn’t even try to deal with how youth culture and marketing and politics and etc. played into each other in 1969, which I think is the only way to make even a comedy make sense, especially if you’re Ang Lee.