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Searching for Sugar Man

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Searching for Sugar Man - 26/7/2012 6:45:10 PM   
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Searching for Sugar Man - 26/7/2012 6:45:10 PM   


Posts: 355
Joined: 23/6/2006
Four years ago, came the release of Sacha Gervasiís brilliant rockumentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil, which followed the long and difficult comeback of the eponymous Canadian rock band, which is essentially a real-life Spinal Tap. One can see the influence of Anvil towards Malik Bendjelloulís wonderful debut Searching for Sugar Man, which is about an unknown musician who has the talent to rival the likes of Bob Dylan.

Following the recordings of two studio albums in the early 1970ís, the American folk musician Rodriguez has become a forgotten relic who disappeared, only leaving mysterious rumours of an onstage suicide. When his first album Cold Fact surfaces in South Africa it becomes an instant favourite, when then led two South Africans to uncover the myths and mysteries that surround this cult figure.

For the length of eighty-six minutes, we see a touching story about this musician whose profession started during his time in the working-class streets of Detroit, in which his initial song writing dealt with the grittiness of those areas. Following the potential success that never materialised and the strangest rumour which said heíd either shot or burnt himself in front of an audience, Rodriguezís music that is somewhat similar to Bob Dylanís protest songs, was loved by those from South Africa, during its political crisis in the 90ís.

Whatís most remarkable about the documentary is Sugar Man himself, as for the first of the film, Sixto Diaz Rodriguez is seen as a man on the front of an album cover, which was how he was seen by his fans; the music was known to those who listened, but the man behind it was a mystery. Once we are introduced the man himself, we see that he has no entourage, isnít completely crushed by his initial failures and even doing work like construction, heís happy at what he does.

With such fascination towards Rodriguez, you do wish the documentary was a little longer to delve more into his life, although the involvement of his three daughters is very charming. With a soundtrack that is a compilation of his albums, Bendjelloul successfully blends the music with beautiful shots of Rodriguez walking through the streets, and the great cityscapes of Detroit and Cape Town.

If you check out the life and music of Rodriguez prior to seeing the documentary, you might ruin the mystery it lays, but this will be a treat for music lovers.

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RE: Searching for Sugar Man - 22/2/2013 1:04:52 AM   

Posts: 2493
Joined: 3/10/2005
From: Belfast
I saw this last night. My local cinema is doing a week long catch-up of Oscar nominees so I went along with a rather dry intent to just "mop up" nominees I hadn't seen, but I was completely beguiled by this lovely story which has added another fixture in my pantheon of musical heroes, (exemplified to set a context by Nick Cave and Scott Walker dontcha know). Hearing Rodriguez for the first time in the first ten minutes of this film had that same effect as my penny dropping on those two entities.

Here's just a description of Rodriguez' music which I garnered from the first ten minutes alone:

Musically: sophisticated, elaborate, accessible, communal party atmosphere.

Lyrically he is articulate and generous with ideas; ideologically speaking he has a bare-faced savvy with the human condition and is above all deeply sympathetic to all men...but less sanctimonious in this regard than Bob Dylan. But don't let the syllables fool you, these are immense fucking CHOONS!

I'm 34 years old, up until the age of 27 I was primarily a music fan. From 27 on I kind of deliberately shifted to a primary interest in Cinema. The reason being that music makes you feel old the less savvy you are about what's happening now. With Cinema,the opposite is true, the more old fashioned you are, the less you know about Die Hard 5 the cooler you are. Cinema rewards the old soul, whereas music punishes the old fogey "they don't make them like that anymore". I would stress that BOTH music and cinema are upheld by a cool cogniscenti of fans that want to celebrate something that they know about but they know YOU don't know about..and they sort of make a dick out of you for not knowing about it! (I'm guilty of this, I want to be one of those too-cool-for-school pioneers that come down from the mountain and enlighten the unwashed! Mercilessly)

To get back on track I think Searching For Sugar Man is very much like "our" (that is Empire posters') old friend and peer rick7! Like rick this film has the very unique ability of introducing/re-introducing you into something cool and nice that has, for some reason, been hitherto lost...and does it such a way that it doesn't make you feel a) dumb about not knowing about the object (Rodriguez in this case) or b) celebrating its own-self for how cool and knowledgeable it is for having pointed us in the right direction.

I'm a leeetle bit drunk now, but I think what I'm trying to talk about is the agenda-less enthusiasm this film has for its subject. The story of the appreciation of Rodriguez is a bit of a face-palm (as the young posters post these days). The point of the film, the lost appreciation of Rodriguez is a face-palm that we all have to hit ourselves with, and the lovely thing about the film is that it delivers our cultural embarrassment to us with an emphasis on "it's not too late to be a fan " which is the ultimate feel-good message that this film leaves you. The film is clothed in a sort of semi-tragic veneer but as it goes n it just shirks off the tragic and leaves it for dust .

A brilliant film. A lovely experience, and for a one-time music - then cinema fan, it leaves the agenda of being unnecessarily hip behind.


< Message edited by demoncleaner -- 22/2/2013 1:14:02 AM >

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RE: Searching for Sugar Man - 8/3/2013 6:35:32 PM   
Professor Dent


Posts: 31
Joined: 22/1/2013
Well, yeah, but there is a bit of sleight of hand (is that how you spell it?). Like Argo, it doesn't quite tell the whole truth, or is economical with it. It's a nice story, and the songs are nice to discover, in that way it's a massive promo for a forgotten singer. But he did sort of make it in Australia to some extent, he didn't quite drift off in to bumhood. That's why he was able to show up and do that show unphased.

(in reply to demoncleaner)
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