I highly recommend that you watch The Last Black Man in San Francisco on Netflix. This independent drama focuses on the effects of gentrification in the area and I must admit, watching this movie was surreal considering that San Francisco is my 2nd home and I got to see it through the lens of a struggling black man desperately trying to reclaim a Victorian home that his grandfather built.
I often travel to the rich historic city to marvel in it’s beauty with it’s unique architecture and epic oceanfront/mountain front hiking trails. And after viewing the film, it mirrored a mix of understatedly beautiful aesthetics (including some extraordinary cinematography of the Bay Area,) searing character drama, and social commentary. Take a look at the trailer.
The story is about a young optimistic man, and one-time orphan, named Jimmie, whose grandfather built a house in San Francisco on land he purchased during World War II. Today, Jimmie wishes to live in this spacious Victorian house, but its market value has skyrocketed due to gentrification of the neighborhood. He begins to develop a scheme with his best friend to move into the house.
The film’s visuals and cinematography are exceptional, and manages to juxtapose both realism and romanticism in terms of how it depicts both the ideals and the realities of San Francisco residents today. The film also captures a not-so glamorous side of San Francisco with a small dose of hopelessness. It uses a variety of other visual and narrative tricks, such as a tableaux vivant-style scene, to help convey the points it is trying to make on how gentrification is affecting relationships between people in urban areas today, much less exacerbating social inequality.
The film’s simple score is beautiful and almost haunting at times in terms of its elegance and emotional power. The performances in the film are generally strong, as the almost laid-back method acting of the two leads is thoughtful and impactful in its sheer simplicity. The ending is satisfying and The Last Man in San Francisco stars Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Danny Glover, Tichina Arnold, Mike Epps, and Rob Morgan. This movie serves it’s purpose by giving us a glimpse of one small part of American life.
Lisa Ford’s crime novella, South Beach Suicide, on sale now at Amazon.