Monday 4 March 2013

Searching For Sugarman

Bullseyes:  ④ (out of 5)
I haven’t anticipated a movie as much as this since Uncle Buck in 1989. And that didn’t work out too well.

I first heard about the Dylanesque folk poet, Sixto Rodriguez on a 60 Minutes segment a few months back.  It was one of those schmaltzy TV snippets that gives you tingles despite your best efforts to shake them off. 
‘It can’t be true’ you tell yourself, as the last shot concerto claws the tears from your eyes, ‘Nooo!’
(Just to confirm - I didn’t cry during the 60 Minutes segment, nor did I cry all over again during the film.  I never cry.  Good.  Glad we cleared that up).
But when I learned that they’d turned the tale into a documentary, well – I knew it had to be true! (Unless of course, Ben Affleck had a hand in it somewhere…)
I checked out a few reviews before heading out.  I use Cinema Clock ( a North American web site that brings you the regular folk’s perspective.  Not that I trust regular folk, I mean I’m one myself and just look at this garbage review!  But it beats the snobby critics.  And, to my amazement, Searching For Sugarman scored a 9.2!  Impressive.
So I dragged Susie out. 
Susie didn’t want to go I could tell.  She replied, “If you like” when I asked if she wanted to come.  And then, “Whatever you want” when I asked if she was sure. 
It’s like me, when I say:
“Do you want a hand in the kitchen?”
I don’t mean it but I say it because I’m trying to be nice. 
Anyway, Susie – thanks for being nice.
Searching For Sugarman won an Oscar last week.  But that wasn’t my reason for going, no, no.  I’m not that shallow.  I wanted to see for myself, if this tale of the elusive Mexican 60’s era poet (spoiler alert – I’m going to give it all up!) who made it big in South Africa while earning minimum wage back in Detroit, could actually be true. 
And sure enough, once the credits had rolled I knew it was for real:
Ben Affleck’s name was nowhere to be seen.
The documentary kicks off in the 60’s and introduces us to the early Rodriguez, his discovery and his subsequent failure to make any indent on the Dylan era scene.  We feel the shear exasperation of his big name producers while tapping our toes to his fine folksy groove.  
‘Well I wonda!’
Our journey quickly veers westward, to South Africa, circa 1970, in the clutches of apartheid and a white revolution simmering along to a familiar folk-rock rhythm…
‘Yeah I wonda!’
The movie takes us on a quest.  A quest to track down the elusive Sixto, to discover the truth about his death, his life and the Mexican behind the music.  The journey is a good one, aided in no small part by the lilt and eloquence of the entertaining talking heads (I do love a good South African accent…ah Charlize).

The movie asks the inevitable question:   
“Where’s the money…?”

Sussex record producer Clarence Avant's bombastic no-holes-barred riposte gives us all the answer we need.
It is heartwarming to heed, at the end, what has changed.  Certainly the lives of most of the cast.  But for Rodriguez…? 
Not so much.
The last scene shows him trudging home in the snow and stoking up the fire… 
For some people it seems that life will never change.  And that might not be such a bad thing.