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End of Watch; Searching for Sugar Man: DVD reviews

End of Watch

Scott Garfield photo Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña in End of Watch: Not your average cop story.

End of Watch

(out of 4)

End of Watch begins as just another LAPD cop story, something writer/director David Ayer is all too familiar with, having written Training Day and directed Harsh Times and Street Kings.

Officer Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an ex-Marine studying film at night school. He wants to make a video, in defiance of police rules, on what it’s really like patrolling L.A.’s rock-hard South Central ’hood. To this end, he and his partner, Officer Mike Zavala (Michael Pena), are packing tiny cameras.

Crime is rampant in L.A.’s toughest division, and the good cops have to turn a blind eye to petty offenses because there’s so much really bad stuff going down to keep them occupied.

“Try not to kill anybody before end of watch,” a superior says as Taylor and Zavala are assigned to a patrol.

The officers’ dedication to their jobs and each other is put to the test when they run afoul of drug lords during a routine traffic stop, and a twisted sense of neighbourhood pride becomes a vow to exact revenge.

It’s refreshing to see the boys in blue be the good guys for a change. But life in and out of uniform is hard for them — and the female officers they work with.

“You got a soul?” someone asks them.

“Yeah, we just leave it at home,” comes the reply.

Extras include a feature commentary by writer/director Ayer, deleted scenes and making-of featurettes.

Searching for Sugar Man

For every Beatles and Rolling Stones, there are thousands of rock ’n’ roll also-rans, who are lucky even to reach the status of One-Hit Wonders.

This bleak Darwinian truth comes with variations, and Searching for Sugar Man, a double prize-winner at Sundance 2012, presents the most fascinating one: the failure who unknowingly becomes a superstar.

Director Malik Bendjelloul documents the story of one Sixto Rodriguez, a socially aware Mexican-American singer/songwriter who cut two albums at the dawn of the 1970s that went straight to record stores’ delete bins.

There were grisly rumours of his untimely demise, and Rodriguez slipped off the music radar — except for in South Africa, where his myriad fans hailed him as a hippie messiah. During the 1970s through early 1990s, Rodriguez’s reputation steadily grew, fuelled by albums bought and spun clandestinely.

South African record shop owner Stephen “Sugar” Segerman recalls that Rodriguez’s debut LP, Cold Fact, became an anthem for his country’s anti-Apartheid movement. But fans there knew the singer only as an urgent voice and enigmatic face hidden behind Ray-Bans. Segerman and his music journalist pal Craig Bartholomew-Strydom decided to look for answers to the question that vexed them about their musical hero: What really happened to Rodriguez?

Resist checking Google and let the strange arc of this story unfold as you watch.

Extras include a commentary with director Bendjelloul and Rodriguez, plus making-of featurettes.

Peter Howell

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