Up the Sandbox Reviews
This is achieved by often focusing on the most outlandish fantasies and applying an almost passive construction of scenes which appear to be real.
Much like the novel upon which the film was based, there is a strong and often confused political stand regarding Feminism of the late 1960's and early 1970's. The main character is bored and constantly trying to determine where she stands in a world filled with revolution (both political and sexual) And she feeling more and more confused by a new level of cultural pressures on the identities of women. With the gift of hindsight, the subject and experimentation of the movie makes it seem like a very odd career choice for Streisand who actually produced it.
I gather that the film was met mixed results with critics and a shared confusion of Streisand fans at the time. It was her first commercial flop. Art House audiences didn't trust Pauline Kael's fairly strong review to "chance" it with a Streisand movie.
Over the decades this movie has started to gain the attention of number of Film Theory and Film Historians. It seems to potentially posed for critical re-evaluation.
If nothing else, Up The Sandbox is a great snapshot of an woman caught in the unique Cultural Web that was spun out of the 1960's. The film actually feels more French than American. When humor is presented it is often in a purposely silly way while the more important observations are tend to be articulated in a surprisingly nuanced way.
The idea of Barbra Streisand playing for a silly laugh is not challenging, but a nuanced Streisand seems like an impossible idea. Streisand delivers a shockingly realistic and low-key performance. While she retains a few of her mannerisms, she still manages to form a character far from the ideas associated with her iconic image which was already fairly formed in 1972. This is not the iconic comedic performance one expects to see. Believe it or not Streisand succeeds at playing a believable intelligent housewife, mother, daughter and woman trying to sort it out.
The film also has an odd assortment of talented actors. Most of the minor supporting roles are played by soon to become iconic television actors. Much of TV's The Jeffersons, Electric Company and other soon-to-be-famous 1970's TV shows are present. Most notably, the film features Anne Ramsey and was Stockard Channing's first film role.
The film also speaks to the skill of Irvin Kershner who never really gained the respect he deserved during his lifetime. He was very much apart of the whole new American filmmaking era of Altman, Ashby and Arthur Penn. Instead his mostly remembered as being the film director who found himself at odds with George Lucas as he attempted to form the sequel to Star Wars into something with a bit more depth as faced the task of Return of the Jedi.
Additionally, Gordon Willis provided his brilliance as the cinematographer for Up The Sandbox.
A sadly lost, forgotten and under-appreciated cinematic curiosity. If you can find a way, check it out. Though chances are you will have the opportunity in the not too distant future.