Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Searching for Sugar Man

Because of the existence of this film, I knew a few things about Sixto Rodriguez. That he had no real music career in the U.S., that he did have some popularity in Australia and did some tours there, that people compared him to Bob Dylan, and he was very popular in South Africa without him knowing it. That last part seemed strange because how could he not know that his albums were selling like hotcakes? I was concerned that the film would seem like a set up, like a lie by omission.

Not at all. What a surprise to get a documentary that not only told a great story, but was a feel-good movie. The secret of the film is to tell the story from the perspective of the South Africans and to keep Rodriguez himself somewhat a mystery. The fact that he remained a hard laborer throughout his life seems to say more about his character than his lack of popularity. He believes in hard work and in earning your own keep. But the film didn't really explore the man... they focused on the story.

And the story is wonderful. I can feel the excitement of them discovering that Rodriguez is alive and talking to him and seeing him for the first time. It is a story about research before the internet, and how the internet changed the speed with which we find things out tremendously. It is a story about how one nation might not be ready for a message, or the messenger, but another nation might. I smiled throughout the film because the narrative is so well done.

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