Innovative, but Obscure: “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”

It’s no surprise that “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is garnering rave reviews. The film speaks to pertinent societal concerns, race relations both inter and intra, gentrification, environmental ruin and the breakdown of the American family. And it’s also adventurously shot, with wide pan outs of skate boarders on San Fran’s famous topography, slow motion shots, poignant close ups, and simplistic but uber creative costuming and set design.

As it should be since “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is based on Jimmie Fails life story written by Jimmie Fails and Joe Talbot (who also directed).

The performances were drop dead gorgeous, Jimmie Fails was terrific, and equally if not slightly more so, Jonathan Majors who plays his friend Montgomery. There wasn’t one character that seemed miscast and Danny Glover who concerned me as potentially being a cliche in the trailer, was authentically perfect.

This is the second night in a row I’ve been awash in positive male friendships (Tarantino’s epic the previous) and I couldn’t be more thrilled. With all the toxic masculinity talk, it’s refreshing to remember, that not all males are creeps.

Part of the problem with this film might be solved with a second viewing as I thought in the beginning a character mentioned the year in which this was set (very futuristic) as a man in a haz-mat suit gingerly picks up waste with a pincher, while a little African-American girl skips uncovered. Yet, further on in the film, waste workers were not covered. The ending, unless its totally symbolic, is also a mystery, as there was no foreshadowing to its content.

I also can’t stop myself from saying that two African American films from last year were respectively better artistically, more solid story-wise, and more subversive than The Last Black Man, namely “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Sorry to Bother You”. That doesn’t mean we should be done, just that The Last Black Man did not outshine its former like minded films. Equal, but not greater than as the old math phrase goes.

That being said, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a great film very worth watching.

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