The Curt Critic featured in the Wisconsin State Journal

The Curt Critic in the news: This recent Wisconsin State Journal article is validation that Liz Zélandais' quest to see all 53 Oscar-nominated films for 2013 is a fascinating enterprise worthy of public interest, rather than merely nuts.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Searching for Sugar Man - 2013 Oscar Nominee for Best Feature Documentary

"He took all that torment, all that agony, all that confusion and pain, and he transformed it into something beautiful. He's like the silkworm, you know?"

Rodriguez aka "Sugar Man" was a bar musician whose soulful sound and textured lyrics caught the attention of Detroit record producers. They expected great things when his album Cold Fact was released; but sales were virtually nil, and Rodriguez disappeared into obscurity.

A copy of the album made its way to South Africa, where it became iconic—and even served as inspiration in the anti-apartheid movement. "If you took a family from South Africa, a normal, middle-class family, and looked through their record collection, you'd find Abbey Road, Neil Young's Harvest, and Cold Fact. It was a word-of-mouth success."

Reports of Rodriguez's suicide were only consistent in that all were grotesque and all on-stage—self-inflicted gun shot, self immolation, drug overdose. Two of his South African fans set out to discover the truth.

I love documentaries, but they're often about difficult subjects and emotionally painful to watch—resulting in the need for aprés-cinema Xanax or heavy drinking. Searching for Sugar Man offers a stranger-than-fiction story with an upbeat payoff and the bonus of fine music. This documentary is ultimately as sweet as its title.

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