Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Revisit: Super Fly

A Warner Brothers Picture 1972

Directed by Gordon Parks Jr.

Written by Phillip Fenty

A cocaine dealer who begins to realize that his life will soon end with either prison or death decides to build an escape by making his biggest deal yet.

Super Fly is not a good movie. It's a trashy, poorly shot, sloppy, boring, silly, incoherent mess. There's little to no action, tons of slow, extended sequences, terrible acting, and still image montages galore. That said, there are two redeeming factors to this film. One is Curtis Mayfield's soundtrack, which made him super-famous and stands today as one of the best soundtracks of all time. Mental Defective's Tim Slowikowski recently compiled a list of the best music moments in film and how this one is not included is beyond me. It's one of the major centerpieces, and the song appears at least 12 times throughout the film, which would be annoying if it weren't so damn good.

The second redeeming aspect is the long takes, which make for some of the most boring yet bizarrely engrossing moments in the film. The best example of this is an extended sex scene, which I can't seem to find online, but it's unmissable if you catch the film. It goes on for like 10 minutes and there are so many close ups it's almost obscene.

Super Fly was director Gordon Parks Jr.'s follow up to his debut film Shaft, a classic blaxploitation film. According to legend, the script for Super Fly was only 45 pages long, hence all the still images, cut aways and extended slow motion sequences. If you're a fan of blaxploitation, you've probably already seen this film, but if you're new to the genre, I wouldn't recommend this as the place to start.

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