Blu-ray Review- Searching for Sugar Man
Title: SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
I love music documentaries – I will watch them ad nauseam regardless of subject matter. This probably makes me in the target audience for Searching For Sugar Man – which centres around the career of the elusive Rodriguez, a musician so obscure that it was almost impossible to find his records for many years. Searching [...]
I love music documentaries – I will watch them ad nauseam regardless of subject matter. This probably makes me in the target audience for Searching For Sugar Man – which centres around the career of the elusive Rodriguez, a musician so obscure that it was almost impossible to find his records for many years.
Searching for Sugar Man is a very unusual tale of an American musician who went by the name of Rodriguez and put out two records in the early 70s before disappearing after his career didn’t take off in the USA. Whilst Rodriguez was deemed a commercial failure, his records were extremely popular in South Africa. The film follows two South African fans: Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, as they try to find out if the rumours of Rodriguez’s death are true, and what exactly happened to him.
The pre-internet age was a simpler time, and had Rodriguez been popular now then it would just be a case of looking him up on Wikipedia, but what makes Searching for Sugar Man so interesting is that there are a lot of conflicting stories of what happened to Rodriguez. I’m not about to spoil the film, and much like The Imposter (also out this year), to get the fullest effect from the film it is best to go in knowing as little as possible.
The cinematography is oddly flashy for a music documentary – there are lots of swooping aerial shots over Cape Town, a favourite of mine is a lengthy take up a glass lift, as it goes higher we see more of the city. Even the interview footage is very proficient – there is a great shot where an angry American record producer becomes angry and the camera is right in his face as if he is shouting at the viewer.
As to be expected from a music documentary – the soundtrack is excellent and gives you a real feel for what Rodriguez’s music is like. One of the most interesting aspects of the documentary is seeing how Rodriguez influenced South African music and how his work was perceived during the Apartheid. I hadn’t heard Rodriguez until very recently, so there is no need to have any prior knowledge of him or his music to enjoy this film – in fact it is quite the opposite.
Upon its original run in cinemas, praise was bestowed on Searching for Sugar Man almost universally – and it is easy to see why. It is a passionate, inventive documentary which deserves as wide an audience as possible. The extras are a little bit lacking on the blu-ray (just one making of) but when the film is as remarkable as this one, this is a minor grievance.