“Searching For Sugar Man” Now At Cable Car

Searching for Sugar Man This is one of those improbable stories that could never happen today, but back in the seventies the world was not so connected. The subject of this new documentary, singer/songwriter Rodriguez, a Mexican-American living in Detroit, recorded a few albums decades ago that immediately fell right off the radar. . . here in the States.

Despite good reviews, ‘Cold Fact’ was a commercial disaster and marked the end of Rodriguez’s recording career before it had even started. Rodriguez sank back into obscurity. All that trailed him were stories of his escalating depression, and eventually . . . it was rumored he had committed suicide. Of all the stories that circulated about his death, the most sensational — and the most widely accepted — was that Rodriguez had set himself ablaze on stage having delivered these final lyrics: “But thanks for your time, then you can thank me for mine and after that’s said, forget it.” The album’s sales never revived, the label folded and Rodriguez’s music seemed destined for oblivion.

Then he was discovered by white South Africans living under Apartheid where his music was widely shared and served as the soundtrack to a revolution. Rodriguez however was oblivious to all this. It is no spoiler to give away the happy news that Mr. Rodriguez is alive and performing again — he has appeared recently on Letterman and ’60 Minutes.’ The movie was chosen as a New York Times Critics’ Pick.

Using a well-balanced mix of talking-head interviews, archival imagery and some dreamy animated sequences, [Swedish director Malik] Bendjelloul builds a narrative that simultaneously moves in two seemingly opposite if complementary directions. Interview by interview, location by location, he tries to go into the mystery of a single man even as he heads out into a world that initially rejected Rodriguez and then embraced him. Each interview adds another piece to the puzzle.

Starts Friday, October 12, Cable Car Cinema, 204 South Main Street, 272.3970, running time 86 minutes

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