Overlooked Film of the Week- #42
Searching For Sugar Man
You know a kind of movie I always dig? When you go into it expecting something but then get something much bigger.
That's essentially what "Searching For Sugar Man" is all about. This is a documentary about a man drowned in mystery and shadow. An American/South African musician who released several records during the 1970's. Born out of Detriot, the rock-n-roll capital of America, he was a critical hit but a commercial dud. Which probably is making you wonder "Well, no wonder I never heard of him, why make a documentary about a musician that went nowhere?" Well, the story of Rodriguez, this mysterious musician, is a cool one. Its actually quite mesmerizing how events unfold in the film.
For those of you who had a very keen ear for old rock music, may still have a hard time tracking down Rodriguez. That's how commercially unsuccessful he was and the recording studios could not wrap their heads around it. The documentary is filled with Rodriguez music and its all stunning, how this guy never picked up in our country is insane. He was big in his mother country, South Africa. His music was a revolutionary lightning rod for the anti-apartheid movement. But he just could not get his big break in our country. So much so that he committed suicide on stage in America...
Even before he died, Rodriguez was a mystery, never revealing much about himself. So these documentations went out to learn more about Rodriguez, what drove him, what inspired him, what led him to kill himself. Where the film goes from there, I cannot say, because you must learn for yourself. There are some big twists in this documentary more thrilling than a M. Night Shymalan movie. But nothing that happens in this movie is scary, its truly inspiring and uplifting.
One thing that makes the documentary so great to watch is how it uses Rodriguez's music to spark emotion. The movie uses his music to astounding affect, and really drives the films journey. There is a particular scene where an old label owner who reminisces listening to Rodriguez's music for the first time, the mixture of Rodriguez's music coupled with the guys descriptions nearly sucker-punched me. The use of music throughout the entire film is ungodly perfect, everyone is Hollywood should be taking notes, this is how you use music well in a movie.
The film is well-edited, well-directed, and utterly well-made. Not only that, but "Searching For Sugar Man" is a perfect example of how non-fiction can be just as inspiring and effective as fiction. This is a piercing yet deeply moving look a man who was more than a musician, more than father and more than a Detroit inhabitant. I hope you track this one down, and get just as much from it that I got.