The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

A whisky in the honor of Sugar Man

with 17 comments

You know you’ve had a bad day when you kick off the evening by devouring

  1. one package of throat lozenges followed by
  2. an aspirin and rounded off with
  3. a (small, I assure you!) glass of whisky which you splash around in your mouth, telling yourself that you only have it for medical reasons, to kill off the pesky germs that have taken control over your body.

Then you drift away in a sea of self pity, clinging to your floating device, the thought of comfort: “Only two more days! Two more days before the weekend!”

And then it comes to you: the memory from last night and you suddenly feel ashamed over yourself, over how lazy you are, how spoiled you are, how you’ve given up hope and ambition for – what? Aspirin and whisky.

It’s time to have a serious conversation.

“Sugar Man!” you say to yourself.

“Sugar Man! Don’t you remember? You’ve got to stop whining!”

You recall the feeling you had as you left the theatre last night after watching Searching for Sugar Man. You remember how you sparkled, how you wiped a few tears from your eyes and how you smiled. It was as if you had come truly alive for the first time in God knows how many years, ready to embrace the world, ready to become what you were supposed to be, ready to shine.

And you reach for your smartphone, entering “Sixto Rodriguez” at YouTube and as the music starts playing it all comes back to you.

You’re done feeling sorry for yourself, done making out with your coach. You have writing to do. It’s time to start spreading the world. You need to tell the world – or -well – at least the poor few fellows who visit your blog – that they ought to look up this film.

You start writing and then you stop and push the “delete” button, firmly. You can’t say THAT thing and certainly not THAT thing either. And no, you probably shouldn’t even mention THIS fact. And then you tear your hair. This is a documentary for heaven’s sake, not a crime mystery! But actually it’s just as spoiler sensitive.

So you decide to say as little as you possibly can. This is what you decide to say in your blog post:

“Here’s the storyline according to IMDb: ” Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock ‘n’ roller, Rodriguez ”

I had never heard of this guy before watching the film and you probably haven’t either.

Good for you. Let it stay that way, whatever you do. Don’t look up anything at all about Sixto Rodriguez or about this film before you have watched it. Just trust me on this: watch it as blind as you can. You’ll thank me afterwards.”

And then you stop. That’s not much of a review. You need to say more than that. But what?

Should you talk about what a brilliant storyteller the Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul is?

Perhaps you should mention that you don’t need to be particularly interested in music to enjoy it? It’s just as much about working class life in Detroit, about what it was to live inside the walls of the apartheid regime in South Africa, a film about poverty and empowerment, a film about how things that we do that seem meaningless might make a way bigger difference than we ever imagine.

Or should you say something about the wonderful music or the beautiful editing or the cinematography? What argument to watch it would they listen to?

Then you shrug and decide not to worry. Maybe this film will, maybe it won’t find a huge audience right now. But even if it won’t – there’s no reason to despair.

“Here’s to Sugar Man!” you say, raising your whisky glass before the final few drops enter your body, starting their hunt for intruders.

It’s time to go to sleep. Tomorrow will be better.

Searching for Sugar Man (Malik Bendjelloul, SWE, 2012) My rating: 5/5

Written by Jessica

September 5, 2012 at 10:53 pm

17 Responses

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  1. Great “review”. That’s all *I* am gonna say. 😉 I know how you feel about saying anything more about the film then the obvious: just see it.


    September 6, 2012 at 12:50 am

    • Yes. It’s a bit frustrating to just tell people “see it”, unable to expand a bit on why. Funny enough my 18 year old watched the film before I did, after a recommendation from me. I said: “I’ve heard it’s good”, which was enough for her to put her trust in me. When she returned she was thrilled and she’s kept nagging me every day since about when I’m going to see it. It’s the first time I’ve seen her so anxious about me seeing a certain movie.


      September 6, 2012 at 7:44 am

  2. Oh, Jessica, that was just wonderful. On so many levels. Hope your day is better tomorrow. I have faith it will be after reading this post.


    September 6, 2012 at 3:24 am

    • Thanks Nick! I’m afraid my cold doesn’t seem to go anywhere apart from further down my chest. But I know there will be a turning point eventually. Like in the movies.


      September 6, 2012 at 7:47 am

  3. I was lost then in your little story, brilliant!!

    5/5 eh? I need to see this then!!

    • Awww, thanks. I might be a bit overenthusiastic in my rating, but I thought it was brilliant. There were only four of us in the theatre, but under different circumstances, a crowded premier, I would have been tempted to initiate an aplause.


      September 6, 2012 at 10:44 am

  4. Had heard of this one, but not checked it out yet. You know I love documentaries, so I will check this one out.


    September 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    • Yep, do so. Recently it feels as if my favorite movies have been documentaries. Next film I’ll see in a theatre is Bill Cunningham, New York. Looking forward to that.


      September 6, 2012 at 9:50 pm

  5. Awesome, awesome post! I am dying to see this film. Mark Hobin from Fast Film Reviews wrote about it a few weeks ago and he piqued my interest. Your amazing post only made it worse! haha


    September 10, 2012 at 6:44 am

    • Oh, thanks Fernando! I hope you’ll get the chance to see it eventually!


      September 10, 2012 at 7:21 am

  6. Found out that this is opening this weekend in the theatre. Fills what otherwise was going to be an empty weekend for releases.


    December 5, 2012 at 3:35 am

  7. […] 5. Searching for Sugarman Has the maker of Searching for Sugarman improved the story about the forgotten artist Rodriguez a little bit to make it a better film? Maybe. Does it matter for how good a film this is? No. Searching for Sugarman left me with some good songs humming in my head and with a warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach and a sense that anything is possible and you never know what direction your life eventually will take. Not a bad thing. […]

  8. I’ve just seen it and it’s great, it made me feel happy for a while which is more than most movies can say.

    And you can’t really tell much about the plot, it would be spoiling things. I was very surprised at the twists the director throws at us.

    Next up: go through his music on spotify 🙂


    April 12, 2013 at 12:10 am

    • I just love how you remember to drop by and comment on movies that I wrote about ages ago once you’ve seen them. It gives me a reason to think back of movies that I’ve seen a while ago and as always: comments always helps to motivate ad energize me to keep blogging. It’s great to know that someone out there is reading the stuff you write. I’m so glad – but not surprised – hat you too loved this. Good on you to avoid all the spoilers and enter the movie unknowing about what would happen. It really adds to the enjoyment.


      April 12, 2013 at 12:15 am

      • Well, the main reason is probably that I know that you will read them and take some time to comment. I’ve started my own youtube channel and well, I’m trying to answer to everyone who takes some time to comment too.

        Plus, the fact that Ebert answered on two of my reactions on my blogs felt great as he not only took time to read through his comments but also took some time to reply from time to time. Ah, too bad he’s gone.


        April 12, 2013 at 7:38 pm

        • The passing of Ebert is indeed sad. I didn’t know about him before I started this blogging project in 2011, so I don’t feel that I know enough to write a good celebrating post. But from all I’ve read and heard he was a huge source of inspiration to film fans and critics all over the world. Even the US president had some words about him. That says something about his impact. I can’t imagine the prime minister of Sweden talking about a Swedish film critic that had died. There’s none on that level.

          You said you’ve started a YouTube channel? Now you make me curious. How do I find it?


          April 13, 2013 at 9:21 am

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