The Last Black Man in San Francisco
This is like slam poetry brought to the big screen. That’s not a compliment. This meandering mess of a movie, is as if first time filmmaker Joe Talbot was Spike Lee trying to be Terrence Malick (or maybe Wes Anderson).
Writer/director Talbot is a San Franciscan, and I’m guessing only goofy critics will enjoy his love letter to the city, but…having come off loving Blindspotting and Sorry to Bother You (which was one of the best movies of last year)…this is destined to make my list of worst films this year.
The handful of idiotic liberals that wanted to gripe about a Caucasian and Italian giving us the wonderful Green Book last year, probably won’t mind the Talbot is white (as is his co-writer), since his best friend Jimmie Fails (who stars in the movie), helped with the picture. I’m wondering if anybody will ask Talbot why, if he’s doing a movie about gentrification and how African-Americans are being forced out…does he never give us a reason. The one family that lost the house, well…it seems to be their own fault.
This abstract story has Jimmy lamenting the fact that he doesn’t live in the childhood home his grandfather built in the early ‘40s. His friend Montgomery (Jonathan Majors), draws pictures, and describes what’s on the TV to his blind father (a terrific Danny Glover). Every few weeks, they go to the Fillmore district to fix up the house, despite the fact that an older white couple threatens to call the cops on them.
The two guys live in Hunter’s Point, where we see guys in Hazmat suits cleaning waste because of toxic water from Navy experiments. Because of that scene, and how weird people were acting in the beginning, my wife and I figured this was some futuristic time and an apocalypse was upon them.
There’s a bizarre street preacher. There’s a group of black guys that harass the two friends.
The way Montgomery handles things, you wonder if he’s on the spectrum.
Once the old couple is out of the house, the guys decide to move in (okay, squat). This leads to tensions with a real estate agent (Fitt Wittrock), and a scene involving an attempt at a loan…that isn’t 1/10th as powerful a scene as when Don Cheadle tries to get a loan in Boogie Nights.
The movie never quite delves into black masculinity, friendships, gentrification, or family, the way they should. It’s all a rather ambitious undertaking, but aside from a few nicely shot scenes and a wonderfully mournful score by Emile Mosseri — this is all abstract, pretentious garbage.
The movie has idiotic slow motion scenes, overwrought framing, and attempts at powerful scenes in ways that felt like this was made by a college film student.
The film has horribly slow pacing (I drifted off to sleep at one point), it lacks humor, and there’s very little of interest in it. Critics are praising it because they’re idiots that think this must be art.
The movie needed 30 minutes cut out of its two hour run time and perhaps a few less bizarre characters stuffed in. It also needed a better script, and a more linear, cohesive form of storytelling.