Title: The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Release Date: June 7, 2019
Director: Joe Talbot
Production Company: Plan B Entertainment | Longshot Features
Jimmie Fails (Jimmie Fails) is young Black man living in San Francisco. Alienated from both of his parents, he lives in a cramped apartment with his friend Montgomery “Mont” Allen (Jonathan Majors) and Mont’s grandfather Allen (Danny Glover). In his spare time, Jimmie goes to his childhood home, a Victorian-style house in the Fillmore District, and carries out repairs on the exterior, much to the annoyance of the older white couple who now live there. When the older couple vacate the house due to an estate conflict in their family, Jimmie and Mont move in as squatters.
The movie satirizes gentrification and displacement – the Fillmore was a predominantly Black neighborhood from the end of World War II until the 1990s. But it is also a very personal story of Jimmie coming to terms with facing reality and not cling to happy memories of his childhood. I appreciate that the two lead characters are introverted, artistic types who don’t typically get to be the main characters in a movie. The result is a quiet and introspective film. I didn’t particularly like the dénouement where Mont confronts Jimmie during a play, but the rest of the film is golden.
Joe Talbot, like many directors before him, incorporates the beauty of San Francisco in many shots, especially ones of Jimmie skateboarding the city’s famous hills. The soundtrack also includes San Francisco music by Jefferson Airplane and a beautiful cover of “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair).” Jello Biafra (of Dead Kennedys fame) and Thora Birch make brief but memorable appearances. Talbot cites Birch’s 2001 movie Ghost World as an influence on his film.