The Last Black Man in San Francisco | Chicago Reader

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Lifelong San Francisco resident Jimmie Fails plays a fictionalized version of himself in Joe Talbot’s ambitious debut feature, which takes a poetic view of gentrification, underemployment, and other issues facing the city’s Black population. The episodic story centers on Fails’s efforts to rehabilitate an old mansion that once belonged to his grandfather. When the home’s most recent owners move out, Fails breaks in with his best friend (an aspiring playwright who works in a fish market), and the two begin squatting there, symbolically reclaiming a neighborhood that had once been predominantly Black but had long since priced out most of its Black residents. Talbot structures the film like a piece of music; this proceeds gracefully from one observation to the next, emphasizing the characters’ way of life over narrative development. (The diverse soundtrack, which ranges from contemporary classical to Joni Mitchell, adds greatly to the film’s affecting impact.) It sometimes feels as if Talbot is overplaying his hand—his use of slow-motion, for instance, feels needlessly arty—but one can’t deny the seriousness of his concerns or his emotional investment in the material. With Jonathan Majors, Mike Epps, and Danny Glover.

Credits

Director:

  • Joe Talbot

Cast:

  • Jonathan Majors
  • Rob Morgan
  • Tichina Arnold
  • Danny Glover
  • Mike Epps
  • Finn Wittrock
  • Thora Birch
  • Willie Hen
  • Jamal Trulove
  • Jello Biafra
  • San Quinn
  • Daewon Song
  • Andy Roy
  • Jordan Gomes
  • Maximilienne Ewalt
  • Isiain Lalime
  • Tim Blevins
  • Dakecia Chappell
  • Sean Richard Conroy
  • James Dowling
  • Tonya Glanz
  • Sergio Gonzalez

Writers:

  • Jimmie Fails
  • Joe Talbot
  • Rob Richert

Producers:

  • Brad Pitt
  • Christina Oh
  • Dede Gardner
  • Jeremy Kleiner
  • Joe Talbot
  • Khaliah Neal
  • Kimberly Parker
  • Luis Alfonso De la Parra
  • Maya Rudolph
  • Natalie Teter
  • Rob Richert
  • Sarah Esberg
  • Sydney Lowe

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