"The Last Black in San Francisco" is director Joe Talbot's big-screen debut. The film has gone from being a fundraiser on Kickstarter to a directing prize at Sundance. From the first shots, it becomes clear that the prize is well deserved, and the logo of the A24 studio is in its place.
Contemporary Western cinematography is persistently trying to include representatives of different races and cultures in each of its films. But he does it so deliberately and ineptly that it often attracts a wave of not unfounded criticism. One of the reasons for this problem is the use of one universal film language to portray all cultures. What is happening in such films is shown through the eyes of a white person, albeit with liberal views. A similar problem was noted even in the Oscar-winning Green Book.
"The Last Black" makes a small revolution - overthrows the optics of the hegemon and offers an authentic look at the life of ordinary black guys from San Francisco. Instead of rose-colored glasses, the viewer wears black ones, and the cultural gap between representatives of different cultures in America immediately becomes visible. Every now and then the heroes catch the evil and hostile glances of white people. Cultural differences are exacerbated by interclass differences. Added to them is the environmental problem. It turns out quite an explosive mixture, but the authors are in no hurry to light the fuse. They focus on the emotional experiences of the characters. And they achieve success in this. The story turned out to be very sensual and poetic.
The film wouldn't be as good without the outstanding visuals. Slow motion, static footage and pleasant warm tones all remind of Wes Anderson's best visuals. And, of course, such a film could not ignore the cult San Francisco song by Scott Mackenzie. Here she sounds in a more appropriate performance.
The Last Black in San Francisco definitely deserves a place on the list of the most distinctive films of 2019. And it proves that independent American cinema is still alive.