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Searching for Sugar Man

Nan Wiener | September 26, 2012 | Story Reviews

The good folks at the Clay Theater (please don’t close like the Lumiere just did!) just saved you from making one of the biggest mistakes of your movie-going life. They decided to run the knockout documentary Searching for Sugar Man, which was scheduled to leave on Friday, for one more week.

I’m a bit hamstrung in what I can tell you about the film, because the less you know about the plot going in the better. What I can say is this: There was a rock icon in the early 1970s named Rodriguez—an intriguing, elusive character with a somewhat Dylanesque style, but a sweeter-sounding voice—who was a total flop in the United States but a breakout star in South Africa. There, at the time, you could count on everyone’s record collection to include these three albums: “Abbey Road,” by the Beatles, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” by Simon and Garfunkel, and “Cold Facts,” by Rodriguez. Rodriguez opened young South Africans’ eyes to the idea that change was possible, that they could challenge the authoritarian Apartheid regime. What I’m saying is that he was beloved both musically and politically.

The “search” part of the movie is about a journalist’s attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Rodriguez’s death. Either way, it was grisly: Some say he ignited himself and burned to death during a concert; others claimed he shot himself on stage.

And that’s truly all you want to know—but if you love music and/or documentaries, you must go see this movie. Trust me, you’ll never say “I Wonder” the same way again.


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