The Last Black Man in San Francisco

No movie was more unjustly ignored by the Oscars this year than The Last Black Man in San Francisco – which couldn’t get attention as an honestly indie film using innovative techniques to tell a heartbreaking story. The script, however, doesn’t follow an indie template. Jimmie Fails (who co-wrote with director Joe Talbot) even commits to playing himself as the delusional lead character instead of the grimly reasonable best friend. In this semi-autobiographical case, Jimmie is a floundering Francisco native who spends his time daydreaming about living in a Victorian house that his grandfather supposedly built in 1946. Last Black Man isn’t a nihilistic wallow like 1971’s The Panic in Needle Park, but the film shares the same foreboding feeling that you’re falling hard for people who are never going to make the right choices. The movie is also remarkable for providing some truly compelling points about resenting gentrification. The real estate fetishism is a smart choice, and the struggling squatters get out enough to provide a tour of the best and worst of their changing city. That includes an acknowledgment of the inherent futility of claiming a city as your own. At one point, Jimmie has an amiable conversation complaining about his hometown with the exact kind of creep who helped to turn San Fran into a destination for selfish morons.