Boots Riley’s dark comedy Sorry to Bother You was recently the Centerpiece of the San Francisco International Film Festival — a rare case of the given film straight-up deserving its place in the center, since it’s one of the best films of 2018. Becoming desperate in his search for work, taciturn Oakland resident Cassius Green (Atlanta’s Lakeith Stanfield) takes a job at a scuzzy telemarketing firm. Under the guidance of veteran Langston (Danny Glover), Cassius discovers a hidden vocal talent that elevates him to the top of a game which proves to be far stranger than he could have imagined, and which is tied in with a shady labor company run by mega-douche Steve Lift (Armie Hammer).
Like all the best speculative fiction, the assimilation parable Sorry to Bother You is set in a recognizable world that takes certain elements to their sometimes terrifying conclusions. Lakeith Stanfield continues to prove himself to be one of the best actors working today, and he also elevates the normally meh Armie Hammer. After his dead-on impersonations of a piece of wood in Call Me By Your Name and Final Portrait, Sorry to Bother You may be the first time Hammer has actually been compelling onscreen. It turns out he plays “privileged asshole bro” very well.
Opens Friday at the Embarcadero Center Cinema and the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission.