The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Classic Pictures - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 86 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
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
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.
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). **
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.
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.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
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.
- Audio commentary with director Malik Bendjelloul and Rodriguez
- An evening with Malik Bendjelloul and Rodriguez - featurette
- Making Sugar Man - Featurette
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).
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