Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Searching for Sugar Man [2012]

MPAA (PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing -

Searching for Sugar Man (directed by Malik Bendjelloul) is the 3rd or 4th remarkable recently released documentary that has passed through Chicago in the last couple of weeks.  This film is about the search for an apparently "washed-up" musician from Detroit in the late 1960's / early 1970s who went by the name of Rodriguez.  After releasing two albums on the Motown label, this artist who all the record producers who had worked with him believed had enormous talent/potential as "the Bob Dylan of Detroit," this painfully shy musician (in live performances, he'd play with his back to the people so that they experienced of him was his guitar and his lyrics) simply disappeared back into obscurity.  As one of the voices in the documentary says "such is the music business..."

HOWEVER, one of his albums made it to South Africa.  By legend, a young woman visiting her boyfriend had brought it there.  South Africa, then under apartheid, was very much isolated from the rest of the world.  His music and lyrics struck a chord.  Soon tapes of both his albums were being distributed among the young white Afrikaner community.  He became so popular that both his albums were eventually released (with some of the tracks scratched out by the Apartheid regime's censorship authorities) with enormous popular acclaim (over there).

Indeed, Rodriguez is credited by one South African musician as having inspired an entire generation of Afrikaner (Dylan, err Rodriguez style) folk singers to the point that this South African musician noted that "in South Africa in the 1970s, there'd be three albums that you'd find in every young Afrikaner's record collection: The Beatles' Abbey Road, Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge over Troubled Waters, and Rodriguez' Cold Fact.  He was that important."

But what happened to him?  That's what the rest of the movie is about, and I assure you, it's a remarkable story.  Further, I would say that MANY older American Hispanics, those who'd be in their 20s-30s "back in the mid 60s-early 70s" would REALLY like this movie.  I honestly think that you'd "get him" and would be (or become) very proud him.  It's a truly remarkable story!

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