This year’s Sundance Film Festival just hosted the world premiere of The Last Black Man in San Francisco, the highly anticipated local indie movie four years in the making, written by Bernal Heights native Jimmie Fails, and directed by author David Tabot’s son Joe Talbot. Since none of us are off hot-tubbing and schmoozing at Sundance this year, SF Weekly has compiled the film’s early reviews from the biggest national publications.
Each of the blurbs below is spoiler-free, but clicking on the full reviews will reveal some plot-lines and a few of the film’s zany, unexpected cameo appearances.
Rolling Stone: “You can tell that The Last Black Man in San Francisco, the debut feature from director Joe Talbot, is something special within its first five minutes. … Funny, poignant, personal, and a rage-filled valentine to a metropolis that’s seen its fair share of gentrification, Last Black Man shifts into narrative mode in due time after that.
“This extraordinary ode to the displaced also delivers a major breakout hit for the festival’s opening weekend. It feels singular, righteous, heartfelt. It’s the type of film that reminds you why you go to Sundance in the first place.” — David Fear
The Atlantic: “The film is a whimsical, sometimes heartbreaking story of how gentrification has swallowed up [Fails and Tabot’s] beloved hometown. … Talbot supplies painterly visuals and a somewhat abstract storytelling style, while Fails and Jonathan Majors (who plays the protagonist’s best friend) give deftly funny, melancholic performances.” — David Sims
The Guardian: “From a Kickstarter campaign to a Brad Pitt-produced feature, the story behind the camera is as inspiring as the one in front, and The Last Black Man in San Francisco is nothing if not genuine. It’s a lovingly crafted visual poem that chooses idealism over cynicism and holds back on the rage that could have understandably fuelled a film focusing on gentrification. There’s loss but also hope and at times the film recalls a far less manic Be Kind Rewind, both films mourning a sense of community and spearheaded by characters desperate to bring it back.” — Benjamin Lee
The Last Black Man in San Francisco has a U.S. distributor, though a release date has not been announced.