Monday, July 8, 2019

Review: "The Last Black Man In San Francisco" is elegant indie film in the midst of summer blockbusters

The Last Black Man In San Francisco Review
There is a pretty bizarre scene right in the middle of "The Last Black Man In San Francisco." As we see the main character sitting, waiting for his bus. Another gentlemen joins him on the waiting bench. This gentlemen puts down a protective plate on the bench to sit on. The gentlemen is also completely naked, absolutely no stitch on the guy. Somehow, our hero is unfazed by this. The two men begin to discuss how San Francisco has changed over the years. How new people have come out of nowhere to claim a city that has always been there's.

One of the many themes of "The Last Black Man In San Francisco" revolves around those claiming something as theirs, possibly not understanding what is precious and important about what they are claiming in the first place. "The Last Black Man In San Francisco" at its core is pretty simple. Jimmie Fails plays a fictional version of himself (he also co-wrote the movie and based it partially on his own life) who hangs out with his friend Monty (Jonathon Majors). At the beginning of the movie, he comes across the house his grandfather built, and he constantly has to correct the real estate agent showing the house. Jimmie's grandfather did really build the house after he came home from World War II and Jimmie sees this house as his birthright. As the agent fumbles his facts, it becomes evidently clear that nobody will understand the importance of this house over Jimmie. The two friends embark on a journey that will connect with their past, challenge their friendship and make them see a city they don't recognize anymore in a different light.

It's interesting how that happens. I currently live in Aurora, IL (forty-five minutes southwest of Chicago) and I have lived here since the tail-end of 2012. But I grew up in Peoria, IL (two and half hours south of Chicago), ever since I've been in Aurora, I rarely go to Peoria. Especially since my parents moved up closer to me ever since I brought my first child home. When I set foot in Peoria, I find myself not recognizing the city I grew up in. Anybody who is a newer resident of that town doesn't even know what it used to be like. You definitely get a sense of that same feeling with Jimmie and Monty. They both love and hate the city, and they know they can't love San Francisco without hating it too.

There is a magnificent rapaport between Fails and Majors. Danny Glover plays Jimmie's grandfather, who also does some good work here. Jimmie is challenged by James Sr., played by Rob Morgan. Morgan is an actor who seems to have shown up in every Netflix original TV show and movie at this point, and he always delivers no matter what. The acting is solid all the way around.

This time of year, its always the summer blockbusters that get all the glory. So its important to see something smaller. This is an elegant story. But strange and silly throughout and challenges you with a host of themes that are easily relateable. 


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