Woodstock ’99: Peace, Love, and Rage: Film Review

The beauty and whimsy of 1970’s Woodstock is something the few to many have experienced once in their lifetime. It captured the calm and effervescent unity amongst the festival-goers. 30 years later, we would see the reverse happen at Woodstock ‘99. The festival defined a cultural shift in society that didn’t parallel the 1994 festival. They direct partial blame toward pop music, which didn’t fit the mold of the 90s counterculture. Garret Price’s new film Woodstock ‘99: Peace, Love, and Rage delivers dueling cases for the horrors and beauty of the festival.

Garret Price delivers an informative horror flick and concert documentary full of ideas that have a thin veil, like most true crime documentary series trending today. What they bring into the fold are these ideas about the raging toxic masculinity that has allowed many acts of sexual assault to go undermined in the aftermath, the auditory response from the audience, and the lengths to which a performer knew what they were brewing. 

As the documentary stacks idea after idea, there are moments where the film starts to tread between pieces of information undercut by stunningly restored footage of the concert from the various archives  – MTV/Pay-Per-View/Print media. However, it cuts corners to keep intact the most glaring issues, one of which culminated from an underlying motto of the original festival: FREE LOVE

Free love wasn’t necessarily free in 1999 unless you were one of many aggressors who chose to redefine the term free. 1999 had people violating females, ages as young as 14, and the idea of free love on both ends was an expression of love of one’s body with the amount boobs present and the toxic-rape culture with the amount of sexual assault reported. In the documentary, Moby mentions that within the nu-metal and rap, the understanding was absent and picking apart what they like: misogyny and homophobia, which fueled frat boy rape culture.

Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine, and Metallica weren’t on a tight leash. The underlying issue stemmed from a callous nature when performing. It was a matter of trying to find equilibrium between an image and the safety of the attendees. It shifts the perception of the concert as this wild rage-fueled event, and it undermines performance highlights and any positive discourse throughout the past 22 years. These discussions spread from the infrastructure to the pre-established sentiment created by MTV in the fight between the uproarious and bombastic rap-rock/nu-metal and the new age of fun and hyperactive teen-pop, amongst others.

Garret Price creates juxtaposition by breaking nostalgia glasses and forcing us to see glaring differences between the three festivals. Unfortunately, despite the number of beautiful highlights, there isn’t much to digest outside of nu-metal and Limp Bizkit made white boys extra harsh and rapey.

Piece-by-Piece, more issues get passed over in simple mentions by the interviewed artists, attendees, and music critics. It makes the marketing of the film slightly manipulative as it breezes through topics swiftly. There are moments the film shows you the all-night party for fans of electronic music and Moby, which gets tossed aside like a salad on pizza night.

The film takes the time to show the chaos, but it lacks proper cohesion in the editing shifting around these topics like a commercial right before the climax. There have been exposés and articles revisiting and detailing the events of the festival. At a point in the film, you hear Rolling Stone Magazine’s music editor, Rob Sheffield, remember having to sleep on white pizza boxes for its linear comfortability and piss visibility. The amount of trash and debauchery preceding the peak of the chaos, with grace and debilitating nausea, became an afterthought. The many attendees had a mindset that mirrored those from the 94 festival: one last hurrah before adulthood. 

Garret Price does a solid job telling you this horrific and chaotic story that formed the wrong kind of unity and demonized an ideal that held for years. It’s filled with beautiful restorations of performance and unique interviews from critics and festival-goers. I recommend this to whoever enjoys a solid music documentary that shies away from an individualized artist.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell – Review

Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell is a slightly unconventional documentary that morphs it style into an intimate retelling from various people, including Christopher “B.I.G.” Wallace through home movies. It is slightly reminiscent of Tupac Resurrection with the home movies acting as a narrative device, but it takes a different turn by adding introspective and intimate interviews with family and friends. The documentary focuses on the varying degrees of influence – sociologically and more – toward the kind of music Christopher “B.I.G.” Wallace made and how it defined him as a person as well. Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell shows clear authenticity, parallel to the myth we’ve come to know about his artistry. Through home movies and intimate interviews, we are given a bigger scope of the rapper and the music and life that influenced him to become the artist we’ve come to know him as.

This film has a story to tell and it accomplishes its goal, since it redefines the legend in an authentic light and not within some hierarchy of myths within the rap world. It destroys the duality once perceived and the character shown, and importantly how much of a kid he was and the exponential growth as an artist and adult. Unfortunately we only got to hear part of that maturity (musically) in his follow-up to Ready To Die, Life After Death, but this film gives you enough info to go listen to both albums and hear for yourself – sans the R-Kelly feature.

I Got A Story To Tell use of home videos from D-Roc, one of B.I.G.’s longest friends to create the narrative structure is immersive and builds the emotional depth needed because it is edited in a way where B.I.G. is talking to us, the viewer. The insight from the videos, B.I.G. ‘s crew, and mother shows us a different human being that we have always been adjunct to seeing, because most products involving the artist have never focused on the meaning and influence behind the music, for both B.I.G. and us as a consumer. It retreads some information that more known knowledge, but it adds more details that makes tracks like “Everyday Struggle” and “Warning” more immersive.

I Got A Story To Tell primary focus on the musical and social influences gives us many great moments and new new information. There beautiful moments where they focus on his youth, further showing the hunger for a musical aspirations deep rooted in his soul. A lot fans know he was a master at his craft, but nobody knew the roots of what influenced him to these new heights. So seeing those moments like him in Jamaica with his uncle or the recording of his first demo, which was him rapping over the instrumental to “Africa” by Toto, is beautiful.

That is the best trait to take out of Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell. It adds a little nuance to the performance of the actor in the 2009 film Notorious, and that film was just alright. But I digress. Behind the story of the man and rapper, there were a lot of anecdotes I wish the film would dive deeper into. B.I.G. always wanted to be the best and found new ways to challenge himself and some of the stories we could have received from featured artists from his albums are never heard. There are great stories behind the conception and creations of the many songs on both Ready To Die and Life After Death, however that is not the story this film wants to tell. It wants to tell a story that lays out a foundation for character in front and behind the microphone.

There are few middling hiccups that mostly come at the end. This is where the documentary feels like it is something else and tries to wrap up his life, including his death in 20 minutes. It loses it intimate approach to only remind us he had a life after this rise to New York fame.

Also, it does not seem to lean in a solid transitional direction, especially when B.I.G. explains some of the duality of death in his eyes. It doesn’t properly give us a good dual perspective that is overwrought, which I know is a bad thing to say about a memorial/death moment. But as impactful as he was as a human and hero in New York City, his music brought a newfound eye on the metro area for Hip-Hop.

I Got A Story To Tell has a lot of heart and clearly has a message/direction it wants to take, but feels rushed at the end as if there wasn’t enough story to tell. There is a lot of beautiful moment that immerses you in his life and the music, even during the times it appear a little hollow.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Ready To Die – 25 Years Later