The Velvet Café

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Archive for the ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ Category

Sweden wins an Oscar – we’ve been waiting long for this

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oscarssugarmanI don’t usually identify myself as a patriot, but I hope you can forgive me for putting my Swedish glasses on as I’m throwing down a few thoughts about the Oscars. After all it’s not every day a Swedish film wins an Oscar. Last time it happened was in 1984 (Fanny & Alexander).

Deep down I know that to the rest of the world, the “Best Documentary” category is more or less a shrug, something buried deeply into the strange territory of more or less incomprehensible classes and short films no one has seen.

Many of you probably cared a lot more about Argo winning the best picture but not the best directing or Life of Pi winning the best directing but not the best movie. Or maybe you didn’t give a crap about this, but enjoyed the speeches by Quentin Tarantino and Daniel Day-Lewis,  the best of the night if you ask me.

But to me this was the night when Malik Bendjelloul won an Oscar for Searching for Sugar Man. My heart jumped as I heard it – not just because he’s Swedish, but because I genuinely loved the film.

Sadly enough I missed the live announcement. My strategy to sleep before the show failed me as I overslept the alarm and missed out the first 1,5 hours of the show. The speech was already posted on the web though and I couldn’t help smiling as I watched it. When you heard his accent there was no doubt about his Swedish origins. And as soon has he had said his thanks in an awkward, unprepared way, his Scandinavian timidity took over. He was supposed to remain on stage, enjoying his time in the spotlight as it was the producer’s turn to say something. But instead he turned his back to the camera and fled the stage as soon as possible. The studio guards tried to stop him, but in vain.

Viking stereotypes
Of average height and with dark hair, Bendjelloul doesn’t fit into the stereotype of Swedes lookwise. But this was more than compensated later on in the show as Per Hallberg and Paul NJ Ottosson shared the Oscar for best sound editing. Blimey! Those blond giants looked as if they’d just fallen down to Earth from Asgard. Believe it or not, but it’s not the way ordinary people look where I live. Still: I’m very proud of them- I have a vague idea of what a sound editor does and how it differs from sound mixing, but so what? They’re Swedish!

Sweden got three Oscar statues tonight and while I only slept a few hours, I feel energized.

May this be a source of inspiration for all Swedish film workers in the years to come! I hope we won’t have to wait 29 years for the next one.

Written by Jessica

February 25, 2013 at 7:28 am

A whisky in the honor of Sugar Man

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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