Musical hit Searching For Sugar Man is worth looking for
00:37 GMT, 27 July 2012
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (12A)
Verdict: Seek this one out
'The Hispanic Bob Dylan': Sixto Rodriguez
This film tells a tale far too incredible to be true — yet it is, indeed, a documentary.
It’s the story of a rock figure so insignificant you’re very unlikely to have heard of him. But it’s riveting.
Sixto Rodriguez was a singer-songwriter of Mexican-Native American descent, born in 1942.
He sang in Detroit bars, but was so shy he kept his back to the audience. He released two albums in 1970 and 1971. They didn’t sell, and his career failed to take off.
The story went that after one particularly humiliating gig, he committed the most grotesque onstage suicide in rock history.
Some claimed he doused himself in lighter fluid and set himself on fire. Others said he responded to another evening of audience apathy by putting a bullet in his head.
The irony was that he was utterly unaware that in South Africa he was hailed as a rock god.
famous there than Elvis or The Beatles, he became the voice of white
revolt against apartheid. Curiously, no money from his albums nor news
of his success reached the singer.
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Mystery: Singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez was so shy he kept his back to the audience while performing
Rodriguez’s voice is strong and
distinctive, like a less reedy James Taylor or a more robust Donovan,
and his songs are soulful, melodic folk-rock with literate lyrics and a
blue-collar protest edge that led some critics to call him the Hispanic
Bob Dylan. For my money, he’s closer to Bruce Springsteen.
Over a fast-paced 85 minutes, the search
for Rodriguez — directed by Swede Malik Bendjelloul — unfolds like a
thriller. I won’t spoil it by telling you more, but the twist in the
tale helped this film win two prizes at the Sundance Festival.
Rodriguez, a Mexican-Native American, was unaware of his rock god status in South Africa
It’s an inspiring celebration of the human spirit and an unjustly forgotten talent.
If you watch no other film this month, do see this one. It’s truly amazing.
Let’s hope the big, corporate multiplexes allow a little leeway to a film that isn’t about a comic-book hero and reserve a small screen to honour a real one. If they do, it could run for months — the word of mouth will be that good.
Now watch the trailer