Staff Picks: Searching and Finding and Living

Posted by Aaron on

Some lives are as enigmatic and surprising  as an Alfred Hitchcock film.

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” ― Bono

Searching for sugar man

Searching for Sugar Man
This Academy award-winning documentary unwinds the true story of Sixto Rodriguez, aka Sugar Man.  Long-rumored to be dead, his musical memory was kept very much alive in South Africa.  An American from Detroit he cut two albums back in the 70’s. The records didn’t go very far in the United States but in South Africa, Sugar Man became a legend. His bootleg music was well-known, and frequently played. In true fan style, two  South Afrikaners decided to find out what happened to their favorite musician. The tale that unfolded was stranger than either could have imagined. A true musical fairy tale with a happy ending. And, of course, an wonderful soundtrack with Sugar Man’s music throughout.

“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.” ― Diane Arbus, photographer.

Finding vivian Maier

Finding Vivian Maier
 A documentary mystery told in  photographs.  When John Maloof bid $300 at an auction for some rolls of undeveloped film, he was  mostly  interested in obtaining  historic photos of  Chicago buildings.  Impressed by their unexpected quality and content, this initial cache of film led to his obsessive quest to purchase almost 100,000  photos  in rolls of undeveloped film scattered in storage throughout the city.  All he had was the name Vivian Maier and a lot of dead ends until about a year later, when her obituary appeared with a few more clues.  She was a nanny and many of her charges (now grownup)  had  some strange, some sad tales to tell.  Like her rolls of film, Vivian Maier’s life story  slowly developed before John Maloof’s investigative interviews. Posthumously, the mysterious, eccentric Vivian Maier began to achieve the recognition she sought in life. She is now considered to be a first-rate street photographer by those in the field.  Her work has been displayed in museums, and several collections of her photographs have been published.

“I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization.”  ― Roger Ebert

Life Itself
Using Roger Ebert’s memoir of the same title as a springboard, this award-winning documentary fills in the back story of Roger’s early life,  his newspaper career in Chicago, influential yet controversial role in the evolution of film criticism,  the very real competitive, sometimes combative relationship with his thumbs-up partner, Gene Siskel, late in life (age 50) marriage to Chaz,  and somewhat discomfortingly accompanies him throughout his  last chapter. Due to cancer, Ebert had lost his jawbone and though he relied on voice technology for speaking, Roger was a full participant in this final showing of the “real movie” that was his life.  Executive producer: Martin Scorsese.  Director: Steve James, of Hoop Dreams fame.  Like the films he reviewed, Roger’s life was filled with stars, some big thumbs up and  a few thumbs down. He’ll see you at the movies.

Looking for more book lists and staff suggestions? Stop by the reference desk at your local library.

Fran, Technical Services, Warrenton central library 

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