Blerd Film Club: Last Black Man in San Francisco


Our film starts with Jimmie and his best friend Month making their way from their home to San Francisco. All while we're given a beautiful introduction to gentrification. There Jimmie paints a home that his grandfather built before the area was gentrified. The white people who live there complain about this behavior, as Jimmie comes every two weeks.

When the owners of the home lose it, Jimmie and Mont move in. They bring in some old furniture that belonged to Jimmie's grandfather and make it their home. One night Mont invites Kofi to join them at the house. Kofi is somewhat effeminate and avoids violence. He's harassed by his friends for it regularly. Kofi finds peace at the home with Jimmi and Mont. However, the next time we see Kofi he's making fun of Jimmie and Mont, so his associates would leave alone. He says some horrible things to Jimmie about his father and almost causes Jimmie to fight.

When Jimmie next returns to the neighborhood, he learns that Kofi has been murdered. This gives Mont what he needs to finish his play. It's also one of the three times that Jimmie's life is rocked throughout the film. Which leads to him making some drastic changes in the conclusion.

One thing that I immediately picked up on almost immediately is that the film is set up as a Greek Tragedy. If you're unfamiliar with those, the protagonist is usually wealthy, extremely talented or special in some way. Throughout the film they struggle with some issue, rarely is it physical. Typically, it is usually something along the lines of love, self worth, belonging or loss.

While Jimmie is the protagonist of the film, Mont is the protagonist of the play. The film tells Jimmie's story for sure, but it leaves an open ending. However, the play within the film tells Mont's story. Mont is a talented playwright, we see him deal with both the losses of Jimmie and Kofi. His ending isn't left open to interpretation, we know what happens to him. Meanwhile, the play performed at the end is a Satyr, or play within a play. I could be overthinking this all, because I have a tendency to do that. But, the theater kid in me thoroughly enjoyed that aspect.



There's a lot to comprehend about this film. Scratch there, there's a lot that I picked up on, but there is most certainly more there. The biggest being Jimmie's search for purpose. I don't know if that was the intention, but that's what I read. He lived for nothing but that home. He made trips there just to pester the owners in hopes that they would leave. When he got the house, he was all about making it a home. All the while, everyone is telling him to find something new in their own way. Then he doesn't have the house, and he's forced to move on with his life. But, he doesn't know how. 

Second, would be the lesson Month tried to teach him the whole film. Nobody is just one thing. Jimmy isn't just the house. Mont isn't just a playwright. Kofi isn't just a street dude. You have to find what you are and if you get stuck on being one thing you'll never truly find happiness. Even when Jimmie got the house, before anything bad happened. He still wasn't happy because he didn't know what else he was. Through the entire film, Mont doesn't say much, but he's happy because he knows who he is. Even when he's struggling with writing his play, he's still happy because he knows that he has something else.

I'm left with a lot of questions that were never answered, and probably never will be. At the forefront of my mind is, where did Jimmie go? Not only physically, but mentally. So much of his life had been built around getting this house. He believed the lie that his grandfather built the house, even when all the evidence said otherwise. He believed that this was his only destiny in life. Now he doesn't have that. So where does he go from there? Where do you go when your entire world is shaken to the core? I'd go to a really dark place, but I don't think Jimmie would.

One thing I truly loved wasn't part of the actual film, but all the moving parts required to make the film. The film is based on the true story of Jimmie Fails, who plays himself. He had sent an email to Barry Jenkins, not even knowing him asking for advice. From there, the film was produced on $75,000 raised on Kickstarter. Still, it features Danny Glover, Tichina Arnold, and Mike Epps who aren't exactly cheap hires, so they must have believed in the film and the vision behind it. Jamal Trulove is the actor who plays Kofi, he actually sued the city of San Francisco after being framed for murder by police, and won. It's another added layer to this film. A big factor is Kofi was not just one thing, and his actor truly embodies that.

Unfortunately, I can't say I truly loved the film. I didn't hate it either, far from that and I'll undoubtedly watch it again. It's a long film, and there is a lot of dead space with pretty visuals. But there is also a lot of things being presented that can't really be picked up on the first time through. It seems like one of those movies that needs multiple watches to really love or even partially understand. I'm willing to take that ride because I'd like to peel back more layers of the onion that is Last Black Man in San Francisco.

You can check out some of my fiction at 12 AM Fiction or follow my web serial Exsanguinate and of course hear me on the Powerbomb Jutsu podcast.
Blerd Film Club: Last Black Man in San Francisco  Blerd Film Club: Last Black Man in San Francisco Reviewed by Darrell S. on Thursday, February 20, 2020 Rating: 5

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