Movie Review: Ewan McGregor flattens American Pastoral into ’60s cliché

There are a few songs that no movie about the 1960s should be allowed to use ever again. “Fortunate Son” is one of them. “All Along The Watchtower” is another. Cueing up one of these tracks sends a clear message to the audience: We won’t be showing you the ’60s, but “the ’60s,” a version of the decade informed entirely by cliché, received wisdom, and pop-culture osmosis. We are seeking a nod of recognition and that is all. In his tone-deaf directorial debut American Pastoral, Ewan McGregor dusts off one of these played-out jukebox signifiers: “For What It’s Worth,” that mellow movie-trailer staple from Buffalo Springfield, written about the curfew riots of 1966 but widely reclaimed as an anti-war protest song. By the time the tune arrives, however, its comforting dings announcing a clash of culture and counterculture, McGregor has already committed to a vision of the ’60s …

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