Inspired by Jimmy Fails' real-life events, The Last Black Man in San Francisco presents one of the most beautiful cinematic experiences you'll ever have. Good filmmaking aims to show rather than tell, leaving the deepest meanings unsaid. The mesmeric slow-mo scenes, quirky costumes, bright color choices and unique music score speak volumes. The story follows Fails', who plays himself, obsessed with returning to a magnificent Victorian house in the Fillmore district that his grandfather built. He wants to move back in as an adult, but we see right away that the house's four-million-dollar value makes it increasingly out of reach.
With a winding narration of events to guide us through, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is written with a deep personal love for San Francisco. The dialogue is passion, humor and awkwardness all weaved together, refreshing from what we typically see in popular films. Lack of extensive background story offers the characters their highest value in the decisions they make rather than a judgement of their past. Jimmie doesn't have a plan but fights for what he loves: his home, despite the odds against him. One of the most magnetic things about the film is how real it is. A real man's story and his struggle. The struggle to belong in a changing city, to reconnect with distant family and honor friendships, to figure out where he belongs in the world.
"You don't get to hate San Francisco. You don't get to hate it unless you love it"
The film encompasses an incredible sense of the present in its cinematography. Skateboarding down SF's steep hills, sunset flickering through the trees, sitting in silence on muni; there are so many moments where the beauty of San Francisco is highlighted like no other feature film. This is done with purpose.
Unfortunately, San Francisco is beginning to suffer in the eyes of the country, called out by The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle- who claim the city is a 'mess'. Traffic, housing prices and the tech industry have taken over the Bay Area, with homelessness, poverty and yuppie culture running rampant as a result.
Native to the South Bay, I've witnessed the rapid pace of gentrification and displacement taking over the entirety of the Bay Area. It's no wonder, with the tech industry booming, growing recognition of the area, not to mention the year-round seventy-five-degree weather. The issue of homelessness has always been on the streets in front of me and I've seen many a family move away in an effort to live somewhere more affordable, somewhere with more community. The problem isn't with San Francisco itself, it's the adaptation to change. There is no denying that cities and neighborhoods change in time, what matters most is those who choose to love and respect it as home.