(kanopy/Prime) I’d argue that THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO has one of the best opening scenes in the last five, maybe ten years? It’s brilliantly executed: it tells you everything you need to know about the world, the primary characters drawn with so little dialogue, and does it so artfully and succinctly:
Even if the film was just this short scene, I’d still be raving about it. I can’t get enough of Adam Newport-Berra’s visuals or Emile Mosseri’s Michael Nyman-esque score.
However, THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO is far more than its opening. I -love- this film. It intersects with a lot, but the male friendship portrayed here is something rare. It’s also about an infatuation with a house, the history of a building, and the complex history of a city.* It’s also about exploitation, gentrification, modern classism, economic race disparity, the obligations of those who come into a city, and homeownership all dovetailing regarding a space with pre-existing history. It’s dense, but it never overwhelms you. It’s an astounding work, an intimate tale that takes on a larger context.
* If you want to read about the origins of film and San Francisco in one big gulp, I highly suggest THE INVENTOR AND THE TYCOON, which is the story of early photographer Eadweard Muybridge and his railroad tycoon backer Leland Stanford. (Yes, Stanford University is named after him.) I guarantee you that it’s far more interesting and intriguing and ruthless than you’d suspect. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/7965/the-inventor-and-the-tycoon-by-edward-ball/