Searching for Sugar Man
Ends tonight, Oct. 25. This remarkable little documentary is a “musical detective story” that turns into something even more special than that. The film got its start from the desire of a couple of South African hipsters, a magazine writer and a record store owner, to find out whatever happened to an American singer-songwriter known only as Rodriguez who had been a huge success in South Africa in the 1970s. Rodriguez’s songs were particularly influential with the younger generation at a time when the anti-apartheid movement was still mostly an underground phenomenon. But nothing else was known about this seemingly legendary figure apart from the two albums that found their bootlegged way to South Africa and some vague rumors of a melodramatic suicide. When the searchers extend their inquiries to the U.S., they discover that those albums were stateside flops and Rodriguez was never really on the music-biz radar. But they also learn that Sixto Rodriguez is very much alive, a manual laborer still working hard to support his family in beleaguered Detroit. An unexpectedly engaging portrait of man who is at once exceptional and ordinary, and whose start-and-stop musical career is only one aspect of an admirable and quietly heroic life. Pageant Theatre. Rated PG-13.