Searching for Sugar Man (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:02 AM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )
85





Studio and Year: Sony Classic Pictures - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 86 minutes
Genre: Documentary

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French
Written & Directed by: Malik Bendjelloul
Music by: Rodriguez
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 22, 2013







"I’ll slip away…."


Film Synopsis:

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN tells the incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest ‘70s rock icon who never was. After being discovered in a Detroit bar, Rodriguez's sound struck 2 renowned producers and they signed a recording deal. But when the album bombed, the singer disappeared into obscurity. A bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and over the next two decades, he became a phenomenon. The film follows the story of two South African fans that set out to find out what really happened to their hero.


My Take:

Back in 1969, Rodriguez was discovered in a Detroit bar by renowned producers Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore. They were immediately blown away by that they heard and signed him to a recording deal. He recorded a 1970 album Cold Fact that they believed was going to secure his reputation as one of the greatest recording artists of his generation. Instead, the album bombed, and despite the release of a second LP, entitled Coming From Reality and produced by Steve Rowland, Rodriguez drifted into obscurity, even being subject to some fantastic rumors of a dramatic onstage death.

Cold Fact took on a life of its own when a bootleg recording found its way into apartheid-era South Africa. Banned by the government, the album became a country-wide phenomenon over the next two decades, and the soundtrack to a resistance movement of liberal African youth. Decades later, two South African fans, Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman and Craig Bartholomew-Strydom set out to find out what really happened to their hero, and their investigation led them to a story more extraordinary than any of the many myths they’d heard. Their story forms the basis of Searching For Sugar Man.

As someone that enjoys human interest stories I was drawn to this one. I had never heard of Rodriguez but when I read the press release I had to see what this was all about. This is an intriguing story about a spectacular talent that emerged in the wrong place and time. I am sure Rodriguez’s attempt and fail in the music business isn’t unlike many but it’s what occurred afterward and its transcendence that proves so engrossing. I really don’t want to divulge too many particulars regarding the story’s outcome but trust me this is a compelling documentary that exposes about the inspirational power of music and the indomitable human spirit. I loved it…


** My advice would be to not seek out any information on this story prior to watching the film (that includes viewing the list of bonus features below). **

700

After seeing the film if you enjoyed Rodriguez’s eclectic folk style music the original motion picture soundtrack contains a definitive collection of his songs and is worth picking up.
















Parental Guide:

The rating is for brief strong language and some drug references.



AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


Audio: 88

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692



Video: 82

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699


Searching for Sugar Man comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.

This filmed documentary is a mix of interviews, still photos and vintage footage. The new interviews/footage appears lucid, with crisp definition, natural color, stable contrast and punchy blacks. The lower resolution elements are softer while occasionally exhibiting minor artifacts that don’t rise to problematic levels. I had no real complaints with the video quality and on a whole thought that this presentation looked quite good.

The high resolution DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack has excellent dynamic range and refining detail. Dialogue is articulately reproduced through the center channel and maintains a position of prominence within the front soundstage. This isn’t an active surround mix but when applied the surround channels generate an involving atmosphere. Front and rear channel imaging is excellent as sounds and spatial cues mate perfectly with the events transpiring onscreen. Although there wasn’t continued use of low frequency effects/deep bass, when present it resonated with punctuated authority that energized the room. The sequence after the opening credits is a wide angle shot on Detroit during a thunder storm. There are several claps of thunder and a driving rain that literally shook my room. It sounded like this was a recording of the actual storm and although brief it sound awesome. All of the music featured throughout the film is taken from Rodriguez’s recordings and the mix sounds open, airy and wonderfully detailed. I must to admit to finding this lossless audio presentation to be much better than anticipated.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary with director Malik Bendjelloul and Rodriguez

  • An evening with Malik Bendjelloul and Rodriguez - featurette

  • Making Sugar Man - Featurette




Final Thoughts:

Searching for Sugar Man is an intriguing story about a spectacular talent that emerged in the wrong place and time. It’s a poignant and compelling documentary that exposes about the inspirational power of music and the indomitable human spirit. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Classic Pictures featuring satisfying high definition video quality, excellent lossless sound and a limited but worthwhile supplemental set. I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you love music Searching for Sugar Man on Blu-ray isn’t to be missed.


Here is the trailer for the film (WARNING: It contains spoilers - watch only the first minute to get an overview without giving too much away).







attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





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Old 01-15-2013, 09:07 AM
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Never heard of Rodriguez, It looks interesting. I'm going to have to check it out. Thanks for the review.
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:10 PM
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I saw this at a local theater and was very surprised by it. Definitely the best documentary I saw last year.
I will say that the less you know, the more incredible the story is.
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Old 04-01-2013, 03:56 PM
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This is one of my favourite movies of all time! What a great story. What a talent! What a shame we missed out experiencing what he had to offer at the time he had to offer it.
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Old 04-01-2013, 05:26 PM
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I cannot find this movie anywhere!
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:13 PM
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Thanks for the review, Ralph! cool.gif

I've been curious about this film and your comments have made me even more curious, so I've put it on my list to watch.

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Old 04-06-2013, 02:04 PM
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Here's 60 Minutes take on this story:


http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7424704n
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:59 AM
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I rented this on iTunes, only place I could find it at the time, a few months ago and my wife and I loved it. We have purchased both albums since then. Great human interest story. Thanks for the review.

I'm not sure if you mentioned it but the documentary won an Academy Award this year.

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Old 04-09-2013, 04:52 PM
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I don't know how I missed this?? Thanks for the revisit or I might have never known about this movie smile.gif
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:13 PM
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Definitely gonna give this a shot....but I feel like the impact won't be that great since I already know the whole story..... oh well
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Old 04-10-2013, 03:16 PM
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Saw him perform at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside , Pa this past Monday night after renting "Searching for Sugar Man" on cable a few weeks back. He's 71 now, his voice can't reach the higher notes easily, and the sound overall was mike'd with a leaning towards the instruments, but the quality of his guitar work, the songs and the lyrics are solid and still stand up with meaning today (just my opinion). His back up players were a treat. I'd love to have a video of that performance.
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Old 04-16-2013, 02:44 PM
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Thanks Ralph, now I really want to see this!! I never heard of him also and I love classic rock!
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Old 04-19-2013, 10:02 PM
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This movie left me in tears.

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