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Searching for Sugar Man(2012)
Documentary following two South African fans of the 1970s musician Rodriguez, as they unravel the mystery of what happened to the singer. Most famous for the classic song 'Sugar Man', Rodriguez never enjoyed much commercial success in his home country, but became a phenomenon in South Africa, where he was considered on a par with Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Rumoured to have committed suicide onstage in the 1970s, his story has been shrouded in mystery for decades. The film follows the fans as they unearth clues, and follow the trail around the world to discover what happened to this mysterious and talented artist.
For more about Searching for Sugar Man and the Searching for Sugar Man Blu-ray release, see Searching for Sugar Man Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 11, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Malik Bendjelloul
Director: Malik Bendjelloul
» See full cast & crew
Searching for Sugar Man Blu-ray Review
Search out this wonderful film and add it to your Documentary Blu-ray collection.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 11, 2013
He was the soundtrack to our lives.
People like to talk and fantasize about "the lifestyles of the rich and famous." Movie stars, sports heroes, and Rock 'N' Roll icons -- the bulk of whom make up the "celebrity culture" -- are usually the ones in that "rich and famous" spotlight, often roiling in money, and usually surrounded by plenty of people who either feed off the excitement or are looking for a little piece of the action. They're the folks living the dream of fame and fortune, their place in the annals of popular culture usually the result of natural talent and their amassed fortune the fruit of their labors. Theirs is exactly the sort of in-the-spotlight life that so many seek but only a few enjoy. And then there's the obligatory exception to the rule, the talent that fell through the cracks, the star that never shined, the bank account that never filled, the autographs that went unsigned, the movies that were never made, the dramatic home run that was never hit, the record that never went platinum. But what if the fame and notoriety did come but the talent had no idea he or she was famous? What happens when fans don't know their favorite performer and the performer doesn't know he's the favorite of so many fans? It's the ultimate reverse fantasy and the true story of a Detroit singer by the name of Rodriguez, a man whose immense talent was recognized only half a world away and in an era before easy access to information, information that would fill in the fans and enrich the life of the artist. Searching for Sugar Man tells that story of talent appreciated, fame unknown, and diligence and technology's role in making a talent into a belated star.
Rodriguez was discovered in late 1960s Detroit, playing with his back to the house but impressing record producers with his singing and songwriting skills that drew comparisons to the greats of his time, namely Bob Dylan. Rodriguez signed a record deal -- even released a couple of LPs -- but drifted into obscurity, staying in Detroit and performing odd jobs to stay afloat. However, his was a very real and tangible success in South Africa where his music not only delighted fans but played a critical role in the battle against apartheid. Unfortunately, he knew nothing of it, and the fans in turn knew nothing of him. Rumors of his death -- even wild-eyed conspiracies about suicide-by-fire in front of a live audience -- spread quickly, as quickly as the government moved to censor his music by scratching out "unacceptable" songs from his LPs. Searching for Sugar Man tells the back story of Rodriguez's music and its place in the political landscape and counter-culture revolution of apartheid South Africa. It's also the story of South African fan Stephen Segerman's search for the truth about Rodriguez and awarding him with the recognition his success commanded.
Searching for Sugar Man is nothing short of one of the best documentaries of the past few years, a tremendous success of storytelling and a fascinating look at the life, art, influence, and belated success of one of the 1970s finest but least-recognized musicians. Rodriguez's story as related in Searching for Sugar Man both fascinates and inspires. On one hand, it's amazing to consider "invisible" success in the prism of the modern world and, in it, man's easy access to an almost limitless amount of information with a few clicks and keystrokes. Whereas pen names, stage names, and other identity-obscuring methods are occasionally utilized at the artist's discretion, Rodriguez's lack of recognition was a result of a proverbial "perfect storm" of events: an absence of information; an unexplainable failure to catch on stateside; an almost "accidental" introduction of his music to another corner of the world; and spurring on his "invisible" success, lyrics that inadvertently but powerfully and at the right time in history touched a nation and helped drive a revolution towards greater justice and equality. That brings to mind the idea of the inspiring power of art, which the documentary captures vividly and honestly. The film demonstrates how a lyric can change the world, alter one's perspective, give voice to those in search of one, or at least introduce a new idea or consideration of ideas in an otherwise closed-off mind or society. The film also speaks to the censoring of art and the South African government's "archive of censored material" that contained scratched-out records and marked album jackets that warned of "prohibited" material deemed somehow "inappropriate," which seemed to only further spread Rodriguez's messaging through song and heighten his influence on a society in a time of turmoil and change.
It's also a touching story of an humble man who has taken his success as he took his past failures: in stride. Rodriguez still today lives in the same Detroit home even following the flurry of recognition and success that is still the result of his talents, only brought to light by others and a little bit later than most enjoy. Searching for Sugar Man is his story, the story of his musical greatness, recognized late for sure but better than never at all. Still, the film stands apart from others of its kind, in large part because of the fascinating subject material but also for the passion it brings for both the history, the search, and the man in the middle of it all. The filmmakers and interviewees show a love for the artist, a passion for his music, and a knowledge of who he is away from the mystery, beyond the unknown and newfound fame, distanced from the renewed interest and hype and film. Searching for Sugar Man injects the audience into the search, involves them in the interviews, and will fascinate even those with little passion for or only a casual understanding of the music landscape. Even if the lyrics don't resonate and the beats don't entrance, there's something special about the way the movie presents its material, an evident and undeniably infectious rhythm with which it so lovingly embraces the people, the sounds, and the man who unknowingly helped change the course of history from more than 8,000 miles away.
Searching for Sugar Man Blu-ray, Video Quality
Searching for Sugar Man arrives on Blu-ray with a stable high definition transfer. The documentary style isn't designed to dazzle home video audiences; this is a rather straightforward sort of image that offer crisp, well-defined HD video-sourced material for the new interviews and also contains some antique footage from decades past. The new interview clips offer satisfying, clear, and accurate pictures. Colors are even and balanced, details sharp, and the presentation only a bit noisy. There's a good bit of "retro" 1960s footage (or footage made to look retro, as the case may be; the commentary track contains an interesting tidbit on Director Malik Bendjelloul's filming of "vintage" Super 8 footage) that takes the look of aged film. There's also wavy standard definition, consumer-level, home video grade tape material from some older Rodriguez concerts dating from just after the time of his rediscovery. The material looks fine given the source; such is not factored into the overall video score. On the whole, this is a professional, even presentation that doesn't dazzle but isn't designed to dazzle, either. The transfer suits the source just fine.
Searching for Sugar Man Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Searching for Sugar Man finds a home on Blu-ray with a very high quality DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Sony's presentation is largely above reproach, reproducing music beautifully. Songs really dance through speakers, playing with pinpoint accuracy and faultless clarity, presenting listeners with crystal-clear notes that reveal the tiniest musical details, solid body, and a soothing, relaxing presence. The track also features some good atmospherics, notably in a gentle rainstorm that follows the opening titles; the rain splashes through the entire stage and thunder drifts about, the latter rolling and gaining a heavier presence as it grows in potency. Aside from music, dialogue is this track's bread-and-butter element; the spoken word comes through clearly and evenly in every scene. All in all, this is another grade-A soundtrack from Sony.
Searching for Sugar Man Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Searching for Sugar Man contains a fair collection of extras, including a commentary, a making-of, and a film festival interview.
Searching for Sugar Man Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Searching for Sugar Man is one of the best films of 2012. Its greatest success stems from its ability convey the true power of the musical art form and the influence it has on lives, the way a penned lyric, a sung vocal, a played note can resonate so far beyond the mind, mouth, or fingers of the artist, outside of the recording studio, and across borders. Of course, there's the main focus, the search for a man once thought dead by spectacle suicide but discovered leading an ordinary life many thousands of miles away from the fans he never knew he had. It's a touching story of belated fame and a very well crafted film that will inspire music lovers and audiences in search of a tremendous human interest story. Sony's Blu-ray release of Searching for Sugar Man features good video and high quality audio. A few quality extras are included. Very highly recommended.
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Searching for Sugar Man Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: January 22-29 - January 20, 2013
For the week of January 22th, Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings End of Watch to Blu-ray. A cops-and-criminals thriller from Training Day writer David Ayer, End of Watch follows two hotshot police officers (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peńa) as they work ...
• Searching for Sugar Man Blu-ray - November 27, 2012
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed its upcoming Blu-ray release of Malik Bendjelloul's Searching for Sugar Man (2012). Earlier this year, the film won the Audience Award and Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Street ...
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