The Lost World

Steven Spielberg's debut, The Sugarland Express, captures a humanity from before the age of the blockbuster

Then, what Pauline Kael called "the fun machine" took over, and Spielberg became a mogul: the millennial Walt Disney. Nothing could be further from Sugarland than the crinkly-eyed Tom Hanks piously elegizing Our Boys in the cratered landscape of Saving Private Ryan. Sugarland is like the classically American but informal bop of Robbie Robertson and the Band. Late Spielberg, by contrast, suggests the bugling of awards shows, political conventions, and celebrity funerals.

Grieve not the Spielberg that might have been (Steve the Player made some masterpieces anyway). See Sugarland and bask: There was a time when audiences were trusted to be entertained by the face Goldie Hawn made behind a surly guy's back, or the catch of moral hesitation on Ben Johnson's face as he turns away from his police radio. Sugarland is a time warp back to paradise: O golden age, that had such character actors in it!

 

The Sugarland Express plays Friday, August 12 through Wednesday, August 23 at the Oak Street Cinema; (612) 331-3134.

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