Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Last Black Man in San Francisco and Short Takes on The Souvenir

Critical Darlings: Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No

Reviews by Ken Burke
                         The Last Black Man in San  Francisco
                                         (Joe Talbot)   rated R
“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): The focus of this fascinating film is on 2 childhood-friends/young-adults living in a blighted area of San Francisco who get the opportunity (via squatting in a marvelous old Victorian house one of them grew up in years ago) to experience the trappings of a more affluent lifestyle, even though such faux-luxury-living leads to discord, first with members of their old neighborhood who criticize them for attempting to abandon their roots (although the instigator of the break-in can also legitimately claim roots in the more-upscale-environs but, ultimately, not as much as he argues about his link to the house itself), then with each other over similar occasions of conflict.  Ultimately, this is a very simple story, focused on character-exploration more so than plot complexity, with a lot of specific references that should resonate with San Francisco Bay Area audiences, yet the situations here are applicable to a great many U.S. urban areas (probably many others in the rest of the developed-world too, although I can’t directly vouch for that) with the general exploration of gentrification, the more specific focus on how given individuals get emotionally/psychologically-lost as neighborhoods erode their identities through various combinations of financial, cultural, class-based factors, leaving permanent scars on those who have no hope of reclaiming their former lifestyles.  Whether The Last Black Man … (already gathering significant critical praise) will achieve wide-enough-distribution to become known beyond future-video-options remains to be seen (with my hopes the film itself will be seen widely, not just be forgotten as yet-another-indie-quirk), so if it should find its way to a theater anywhere reasonably nearby I'll encourage you to go seek it out even if you know (or care) nothing about San Francisco.

Here’s the trailer:  (Use the full screen button in the image’s lower right to enlarge it; activate that same button on the full screen’s lower right or your “esc” keyboard key to return to normal size.)

If you can abide plot spoilers read on, but as this blog’s intended for those who’ve seen the film—or want to save some bucks—to help any of you who want to learn more details yet avoid important plot-reveals I’ll identify any give-away sentences/sentence-clusters like this: 
⇒The first and last words will be noted with arrows and red.⇐ OK, now continue on if you prefer.

What Happens: In San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, a decrepit, under-resourced section of the fabled “city by the Bay,” where Toni Bennett’s little cable cars may still climb halfway to the stars (I didn’t really have to slip this song in here [it’s not in the film’s soundtrack, as is Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love”—oh, you want that one too?  OK, here it is to connect with an upcoming Musical Metaphor for this film below, at the end of the review], but my marvelous wife, Nina’s, been feeling a bit poorly lately so I hope, with her love of Tony, this might pep her up a bit, like when she’d stun her friends by bringing his records to high-school-parties in the mid-1960s) in more-affluent-areas of this complex city as millionaire/billionaire-techies step over human feces from a huge homeless population, tolerance/wide-ranging-acceptance are hallmarks of how the place prides itself (including with one of the largest, most-lavish Pride Parades in the world) even as the ever-growing-incomes of those tech-entrepreneurs push housing prices and living expenses up so high that middle- and working-class folks (including all those diverse communities of color) find themselves incapable of maintaining a reasonable standard of living even though mandated-minimum-wages continue to rise a bit, so in the midst of all this we meet our protagonists—Jimmie Fails (conveniently played here by Jimmie Fails), Montgomery (Mont) Allen (Jonathan Majors)—endlessly waiting for a bus while a local soapbox-preacher (Willie Hen) bemoans the toxic conditions of their neighborhood (especially decommissioned Hunters Point Naval Shipyard) even with no one listening (hazmat-suited-trash-pickers work behind him, though, as I thought of this related Gordon Lightfoot song, at least in overall tone).  Tired of sitting around for the overdue bus (while unknown-but-talented-artist/playwright-Mont keeps busy with flowing, confident sketches), they hop on Jimmie’s skateboard for a fabulously-filmed trip uptown (in a generic sense of class-consciousness, not the literal designation of Manhattan's geography) for Jimmie’s regular visit to a marvelous old Victorian house where he grew up (supposedly in the Western Addition, 959 Fillmore [at Golden Gate] if you want to look for it yourself) until the property was lost years ago by his father (Rob Morgan).  To the chagrin of the elderly couple who now live there, especially Mary (Maximilienne Ewalt)—as best I followed, her father must have acquired the properly after the loss by the Fails family, an ironic surname given the film’s circumstances—Jimmie keeps showing up every couple of weeks to work on the exterior of the house (painting trim on the windows, weeding the yard) as if his family still owns the place (a plot device akin to The Intruder [Deon Taylor; Two Guys were just too snooty to review it]: Charlie Peck [Dennis Quaid] sells his countryside-home to a young couple, yet refuses to fully give up possession, only Jimmie displays none of Charlie’s violent-psychological-horror-movie-craziness, he merely yearns to retain some sense of those fond memories he keeps of his long-lost-childhood in this multi-story mini-mansion).

 As fate would have it, Mary and her husband are evicted (she’s devastated) when her father dies (given her apparent age he must have really been ancient), leaving ownership of the house in a “custody” battle with her sister, so Jimmie figures that could result in a years-long-court-battle, emboldening him (along with Mont) to break in the back door, take possession of the place (partially refurnishing it with many of his family’s belongings, kept in storage all those years by his aunt), with Jimmie declaring himself, in a dose of intentional hyperbole, the “last Black man in San Francisco” because he’s the final one of his family to reclaim residence in the city’s increasingly-gentrified-neighborhoods.  He also makes a more-invested-claim from an upper ledge one day when a tour guide (Jello Biafra) leads his clients (all on Segway scooters) to the house, telling them it was built in the 1880s, only to be defiantly-corrected by Jimmie, informing everyone his grandfather built the place by himself in 1946, making it intentionally look like the surrounding, much-older residences.  Jimmie and Mont’s squatting goes well enough for awhile, although after they invite Kofi (Jamal Trulove) from Hunters Point to visit one night (he seems happy enough to share in the hospitality of the place) when next our squatters return to their old digs (they lived with Mont’s grandfather [Danny Glover], sharing a 1-car-garage, spending time with blind Grandpa, explaining to him what’s happening in old movies they’re all watching on TV) Kofi joins in with 4 other guys who always seems to be hanging out on the street, criticizing/insulting Jimmie for putting on airs of superiority (an older man there, living in his car [brightly decorated inside with Christmas-tree-lights], bluntly tells Jimmie: “You never own shit.”  Whatever superior-aspirations Jimmie might have felt, though, are quickly challenged when Mary shows up one day at the Fillmore house (Jimmie changed the locks so she couldn’t get in), after which he and Mont find everything out on the street as the listing's been taken over by a shady relator.  Jimmie attempts to get a loan to buy the place (needs about $4 million, 20% down, no deal) while Mont pleads with the relator who bluntly tells him he has evidence the house was built in the 1880s, so it’s all a family lie about Jimmie’s grandfather.  Jimmie’s devastated by this eviction, further depressed when he and Mont return again to Hunters Point only to find Kofi was killed the previous night (sorry, but I didn’t catch the full circumstances).

 ⇒Mont’s now inspired to finish the play he’s been struggling to write (called The Last Black Man in San Francisco) which he performs in the Victorian’s attic, with a small (yet capacity) crowd, including James Sr. (generally on the outs with Jimmie; his mother Wanda [Tichina Arnold] even more so as he accidently runs into her on a city bus one day, obviously with little to share).  Mont’s primary thrust is homage to Kofi including testimonials from audience members who knew him, but he compares the guy’s coffin to the box society’d already put him in, likening it to the box Jimmie’s constructed for himself in trying to reintegrate (pun intended) himself into a neighborhood he’s no longer a part of, then confronting Jimmie with the news about the true age of the house in an effort to force him to move on to other ambitions, after which Jimmie storms out.  Later, though, we see him with his aunt, admitting he knew the truth about the house but had been hanging on to his version of its history for so long he’d basically forgotten the facts.  Ultimately, Jimmie returns to Hunters Point, moves back in with Mont and Grandpa but then moves on one night, leaving a note for Mont.  As the film slowly wraps up, we see Mont by himself in several Hunters Point locations, but in one quick scene he visits the Victorian which is on display by real-estate-agents; toward the end of this moderately-paced-montage we see someone (I can’t verify whom) rowing out to sea with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, then a final shot of Mont looking toward the Bay.⇐

So What? Once again, when movie-time rolled around last week, I found little interest in the likely box-office-champs (which easily turned out to be the animated The Secret Life of Pets 2 [Chris Renaud; worldwide gross after 1 weekend $101.2 million] and the closure of Marvel’s X-Men franchise [at least for now], Dark Phoenix [Simon Kinberg; worldwide gross also after 1 weekend $139 million]), choosing instead to see a very independent film with great local flavor (for me), the result of director/co-screenwriter Talbot (winner at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival of prizes for U.S. Dramatic Directing, Special Jury Award—Creator Collaboration) and lead actor/co-screenwriter Fails (plus Rob Richert on the script) growing up as close friends in SF, planning this film for years, finally getting the concept fleshed out, financing in place to make it.  What they’ve created is a marvelous-meditation on conflicts in contemporary urbanization about long-time-residents pushed out by those more capable (or, ultimately for some, not as capable as they assumed, as with Mary’s own family dilemma somewhat mirroring for her elderly, formerly-prosperous White family what occurred with a working-class Black family years before, noting how race [social construct that it is] is now falling behind issues of wealth in these more-desirable-locations, so aging Whites such as Mary and her husband no longer find themselves in as much control of their destinies as they’d expected), although those like Mary likely have somewhere else to go in such times of duress that are much more accommodating than the largely-neglected-slums of Hunters Point (fill in your own locally-appropriate-neighborhood as the case may be, because this story—while very specific in its references to San Francisco—could be taking place anywhere some local filmmakers choose to tell [however poetically] the truth about changing living conditions in our increasingly-economically-divided-societies where unemployment may now be at a comfortably-low-level [maybe due to a combination of higher wages resulting from ongoing worker protests and the sad reality many work-capable-folks have for whatever reasons voluntarily taken themselves out of competition for so many open jobs—many of which, in the recent past, would have been filled with seasonal-immigrants before the rabid “Build the Wall” policies of our current-infantile-minded-Presidential-administration]).  The quest for the old homestead is the ongoing plot-point here, yet so much more comes across in ongoing small moments (such as Jimmie waiting for a bus in a neighborhood where the schedule’s likely to be better-followed when an older, naked man quietly sits down beside him with no reaction at all from Jimmy, followed by a California Street cable car [in SF’s uber-upscale-financial-district] rolls by with a load of young [likely rich] men greatly amusing themselves at the naked guy’s expense).  These filmmakers are acute observers of human nature, working in quiet social commentary of the kind we often find, then praise in a host of international film masters.

Bottom Line Final Comments: The Last Black Man in San Francisco (a title filled with witty/poignant-resonance clearly based on Jimmie’s attitudes—maybe also with allusions to Kofi’s situation—as long as it’s not taken literally, which might confuse possible attendees that this film’s some sort of dystopian sci-fi tale or a political satire taking the premise of Get Out [Jordan Peele, 2017; review in our May 11, 2017 posting] up to an even-further-level of social-manipulation) is a clever, melancholy, well-scripted, expertly-acted study of contemporary-cultural-considerations, providing an across-the-Bay response to marvelous studies of urban-inequities shown last year in Oakland-based-films Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018; review in our July 12, 2018 posting) and Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada, 2018; review in our August 9, 2018 posting)—I had the pleasure of watching The Last Black Man … in Oakland’s movie palace, the Grand Lake Theater (opened in 1926), somewhat bringing together both of those local influences—with all of these true-to-their-specific-settings-elements in place but easily-recognizable as tales containing relevance for audience members in any number of cities across the U.S. (likely in other countries as well).  However, I must admit the content of The Last Black Man …, unless local reviews in many other communities emphasize its easy-universality,* may be misunderstood as being too upper-left-coast-oriented to be properly appreciated in other venues, so I can only hope it makes a drastic expansion beyond its debut last weekend in a mere 7 domestic  (U.S.-Canada) theaters, yielding a paltry—but expected—$235 thousand gross, yet not that far under comparable-ticket-sales from The Souvenir (reviewed just below), a film also with rave reviews but in release considerably longer.

*One publication’s support that might help the most is Entertainment Weekly where in the June 14-21, 2019 print edition (“The LGBTQ Issue”), p. 94, it’s listed first (seemingly not in alphabetical order) of their “10 Best Movies of the Year…So Far”; I wish I could steer you to a link for more details but, even in my subscriber’s EW website, I find no mention of this feature nor any way to access specific entire magazines (they used to do that), so you’ll just have to buy one for yourself (I get no kickbacks, damn it!).  On their list, though, my agreements come only with Avengers: Endgame (Anthony and Joe Russo; review in our May 1, 2019 posting) and Booksmart (Olivia Wilde; review in our May 29, 2019 posting), so, as I note in the comments below on The Souvenir, feel free to look through this blog’s Archive of 2019 reviews to see which 10 have gotten my (normally) top rating of 4 stars  (saving higher numbers for the truly elite), easily including The Last Black Man … .

 I do hope you’d find interest in seeking out this worthy film however you might be able to watch it, but until you do I can at least leave you with an appropriate Musical Metaphor; however, in tribute to the quality presented by Talbot and company I’ll choose 2, both from the soundtrack: (1) “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” at bwWnLbc, the Mike Marshall version (originally written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, a big hit for Scott McKenzie in 1967, on his album The Voice of Scott McKenzie that year, finally bringing me to the aforementioned SF-psychedelic-connection to “Somebody to Love” on the Airplane’s 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow) because it references what SF would like to be known for, the Summer of Love, celebrating “Summertime will be a love-in there,” even though this new bluesy-version takes on ironic commentary about how the “gentle people” today work at Apple, Facebook, Google, etc., pushing out those like Jimmie and Mont from their own legitimate heritage, along with (2) Joni Mitchell's "Blue" (from her 1971 album, same name as the song [the video quality here’s atrocious—she looks like a ghost most of the time—but because we’ll likely never see her perform again {fortunately I had that pleasure a couple of times over the decades} I thought it would be useful to both see and hear her; yet, I must admit it’s a bit hard to always understand the lyrics {seemingly about her breakup with James Taylor; more of those sorts of references in the review just below} given the also-compromised-audio-quality of this video, so here’s the original recording for a better listening experience {or, if you’d prefer to read it as poetry—appropriate both to the caliber of Mitchell’s writing as well as to the mood it evokes as used in this soundtrack—here are just the lyrics, along with some other info about this haunting song along with the larger context of Mitchell’s life}]), where these lyrics get to the heart of Jimmie’s dilemmas: “Well, there’s so many sinking now You gotta keep thinking You can make it through these waves […] Everybody’s saying that Hell’s the hippest was to go Well, I don’t think so But I’m gonna take a look around it though” without needing to reference his specifics as he struggles with what he'll do next.
(more verbiage in this) SHORT TAKES (than the film deserves) 
(please note that spoilers also appear here)

                  The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg)   rated R

In the early 1980s, Julie, a graduate film student from a wealthy family is struggling to find the proper path for her thesis project when she gets involved with a slightly older man of some minor literary reputation who’s constantly borrowing money; the events feel rather dreary overall but are based on true happenings in this director’s life. 

Here’s the trailer:

      Before reading any further, I’ll ask you to refer to the plot spoilers warning far above.

 A primary reason I chose to see The Souvenir last weekend was how highly regarded it’s been by the critical community (or, my term, the CCAL [Collective Critics at Large]) with a fat trove of 90% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes but even more so the rare result of a higher degree of support at Metacritic, a 92% average score (their best number of any 2019 release reviewed so far by both them and me).  Even more so, my local San Francisco Chronicle not only gave this film its top level of praise (the Little Man jumping out of his chair clapping) in G. Allen Johnson's review (“Watching the films of Joanna Hogg, a late-blooming British master, is like watching a blank canvas become a work of art. There is no plot in the conventional sense, but character. Start with small details. Add in impressions and feelings. Build visual elements stroke by stroke, until near the end, the big picture emerges almost in real time, with full impact.”) but it also offered “A Critical Consensus,” blending clusters of reviews, like Metacritic does, specific numbers assigned unlike just “yes/no” decisions of RT, then averaged, The Souvenir on top for the last few weeks with a solid 8.8 of 10.*  (Regarding the footnote below, while fruitlessly-searching for anything more about “… Consensus” I did find includes The Souvenir in their Best Movies of 2019 (So Far) [but a different lineup from the EW "Ten Best ..." cited in the review above, with only Transit {Christian Petzoid}, Us, and Amazing Grace {Sydney Pollack, Alan Elliott} on both lists], of which I’ve only seen 5 of them: I agree fully on Diane [Kent Jones; 4-stars-review in our April 17, 2019 posting], not quite on Us [Jordan Peele; 3½-stars-review in our March 27, 2019 posting] or Trial by Fire [Edward Zwick; 3½-stars-review in our May 22, 2019 posting], nor Ash Is Purest White [Jia Zhang-Ke; 3-stars-review in our March 20, 2019 posting], obviously not on The Souvenir with my constrained 2½ stars.)  My 10 4-stars-ratings (as high as I normally go except for real classics) for 2019 releases so far go in very different directions (including The Last Black Man …), so if you’d skim through my 2019 reviews in this blog’s Archives you’ll see how my (exquisite!) tastes veer away from what The Souvenir's about.

*Unfortunately, I can’t find any further information about “A Critical Consensus” in terms of who compiles it, how many critics’ reviews account for the scores of each of the dozens of films in their chart, etc.  If any of you can locate more info, I’d appreciate knowing it, but all I’ve been able to find is this useless website which has a collection of some past “… Consensus” listings in no particular order but none I could find from 2019, let along the specific one I searched for from the … Chronicle’s Sunday Datebook of June 9-15, 2019 (p. 22 of that print edition if you have access to it).

 Director Hogg (with my Texas heritage, I can’t help wondering if she’s distant kin to former-Governor James “Big Jim” Hogg [1891-1895] who seemingly had the horrible sense of humor to name his daughter Ima [the story he named another one “Ura” is urban legend, fortunately, although supposedly Ima was named for the heroine of the poem The Fate of Marvin, written by James' brother, Tom, rather than being merely a malicious joke at the girl’s expense—we can only hope!], especially if Joanna has a dark enough side to share the sad autobiographical events of this story—I can’t say exactly how much is factual or fictionalized, but you can get some useful insights from the extensive interview in the second item with this film in the Related Links section a bit below) has bravely put a significant collection of events from her film-school-days of the early 1980s into this cinematic memoir, when she apparently had a romance with a guy who may have genuinely cared for her yet abused her emotionally while living off of her material kindness far longer than she should probably have tolerated.  In this version of that time we have Hogg’s mid-20s-self presented as Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne), her parents apparently quite wealthy (given their large mansion with accompanying estate), providing her with an apartment in London's Knightsbridge area while she attends a graduate film school (interestingly, her mother Rosalin’s played by Honor’s Mom, Tilda Swinton, who appeared in Hogg’s 28-min. thesis film, Caprice, back when both were cinematic-unknowns)In The Souvenir (I never did quite understand the title's intent) Julie struggles to find the insights needed to shape her student film (“decay” is her original intention), finding instead an affair with somewhat-successful-writer Anthony (Tom Burke [no relation, even as he shares a name with both my father and grandfather]) who asks to stay a few days with Julie while he’s working on a project (they begin by sharing a bed, seemingly with no sex, because the other bedroom’s occupied with a roommate who soon moves out) but continues on with her, almost for good, in the meantime borrowing money (requiring Julie to keep asking for more from Mom), even faking the theft of her jewelry to finance their rapidly-presented-trip to Venice.  She also finds he’s a heroin addict, but despite the emotional traumas he causes her she keeps taking him back in her own form of addiction.  ⇒This comes to closure when Mom’s spending the night at the apartment, Anthony fails to come home, Mom gets the tragic phone call next morning he’s died in a public restroom, I guess from an overdose (to my aging ears, between the British accents, the generally-muted-dialogue-delivery, plus the further-muted-sound-levels in the theater, I can’t say I followed plot progression all that well, so maybe The Souvenir’s as marvelous as most everyone else claims, but you couldn’t prove it by me)although Anthony’s death gives Julie the inspiration she needs to finish her film).⇐ 

 What reassures me I’m not the only one in the Western Hemisphere not enthralled with The Souvenir is it also made no positive impression on my wife, Nina, who’s usually easily-supportive of films focused on a female protagonist, nor one of our regular viewing companions who annually spends some time in London but found nothing particularly intriguing about any British aspects of this film nor did he see any motivation for Julie’s ongoing acceptance of Anthony’s histrionic weaknesses (Nina and I didn’t find anything interesting in that relationship either; sorry, Joanna, we don’t mean to be insulting to whatever you lived, but it offered no resonance with us, even though we’ve both been in previous unrewarding relationships we’d struggled to terminate, so even the empathy factor wasn’t in play here).  There are some very interesting visuals in this film, especially shots with mirrors (including a wall of them behind Julie’s kitchen table); however, that factor’s hardly enough for me to get enthralled with The Souvenir, let along recommend it to anyone else (although I’m so deep in the minority I might be steering you wrong; if you see it anyway, rejoicing in its marvelous qualities, please give me more details on what—besides dialogue-clarification—I’m missing here).  Appropriately, given the early ‘80s setting, there’s a nice sensibility evoking the somewhat-random, sometimes-slowly-progressing narrative aspects of French New Wave films of a couple of decades prior, which were still highly-influential among student and independent filmmakers of that time (including the characters’ personal chatter about films and politics of the day, especially violence in Northern Ireland—along with Julie’s somewhat-poetic-voiceovers set against a shot of moody sky with a thin line of trees at the bottom), but I’d say those inspirational-classics aren’t finding a secure-enough-presence in Hogg’s melding of an earlier time with a current release in our contemporary-cultural-milieu.  Another consideration for getting back to me later is that there’s already a sequel in the works, with Robert Pattison joining in, a screening I’d rank in attraction somewhere below the ongoing, needless sequels to the X-Men and Godzilla franchises (even though Part I of The Souvenir won the World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize for Hogg at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival).  I don’t know if I’d have to discourage attendance at this film anyway, given it’s managed to spread to only 145 domestic theaters after being in release for a month earning only about $361 thousand thus far, so it’s only at #279 of the “top” movies of the last 365 days (according to Box Office Mojo), not much incentive for wider coverage before likely evaporation (although maybe it'll be a solid tax-write-off in the future for the production companies).

 However fascinating anyone else might find it, for me at least, the nicest thing I can offer for The Souvenir is a Musical Metaphor that captures some of the disillusionment the primary characters experience, Jackson Browne’s “Fountain of Sorrow” (from his 1974 Late for the Sky album, possibly about his breakup with Joni Mitchell [yes, her again]), but because I can imagine this song as sung by Julie about Anthony (although their circumstances become more tragic than the pair of former-lovers in the song) I’ll give you Joan Baez’s version (from her 1975 Diamonds and Rust album [where Mitchell showed up for a duet on “Dida”; damn, that woman got around]) at https://www. (still, that’s about 2 min. shorter than you'd hear in Browne’s recorded version so here's his as well just for balance [a live performance, even longer than his recording, with a bit of insight about the tune’s origin]).  In the film’s final shot, Julie opens the massive doors of the studio’s sound stage, looking out into an open landscape (mostly of sky, though, the same view used to illustrate her previously-noted [inscrutable-to-me] V.O. comments) that could easily be a Jackson Browne album cover, maybe with Julie singing in mournful memory: “Now for you and me it may not be that hard to reach our dreams But that magic feeling never seems to last And while the future's there for anyone to change, still you know it seems It would be easier sometimes to change the past I'm just one or two years and a couple of changes behind you In my lessons at love's pain and heartache school Where if you feel too free and you need something to remind you There's this loneliness springing up from your life Like a fountain from a pool.”  Maybe if you’ve drunk deeply from that “Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light [… if] You’ve known that hollow sound of your steps in flight” you’ll glean more substance than I did from The Souvenir.  I found so little to retain as any useful souvenir of my feelings, despite its grand pedigree.
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
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*A Google software glitch causes every Two Guys posting prior to August 26, 2016 to have an inaccurate (dead) link to this Summary page; from then forward, though, this link is accurate.

Here’s more information about: The Last Black Man in San Francisco (28:26 interview with director/co-screenwriter [with Rob Richert, J. Fails] Joe Talbot and actor Jimmie Fails)

Here’s more information about: The Souvenir (another weak one; A24 doesn’t appear to put much effort into their official websites for their films) (48:35 interview with director Joanna Hogg and actors Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton) 

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If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my email address of  (But if you truly have too much time on your hands you might want to explore some even-longer-and-more-obtuse-than-my-film-reviews—if that even seems possible—academic articles about various cinematic topics at my website,, which could really give you something to talk to me about.)

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.  But wherever the rest of my body may be my heart’s always with my longtime-companion, lover, and wife, Nina Kindblad, so here’s our favorite shared song—Neil Young’s "Harvest Moon"
—from the performance we saw at the Desert Trip concerts in Indio, CA on October 15, 2016 (as a full moon was rising over the stadium) because “I’m still in love with you,” my dearest, a never-changing-reality even as the moon waxes and wanes over the months/years to come.
Finally, for the data-oriented among you, Google stats say over the past month (which they seem to measure from right now back 30 days) the total unique hits at this site were 37,254 (as always, we thank all of you for your support with our hopes you’ll continue to be regular readers); below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week:

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