This Ava DuVernay-Approved Film Has Critics Salivating

Welcome to “What’s Good,” a weekly column where we break down what’s soothing, distracting, or just plain good in the streaming world.
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
What’s Good? Residue on Netflix
Who It’s Good For: The Last Black Man In San Francisco is one of my favourite films of the past decade. The story of a young Black man fixated on buying his childhood home is a stunning rumination on the devastating effects of gentrification. Residue, which came out last week, is also a surrealist tale about how gentrifying a neighbourhood can have a devastating impact on a Black man and his family. The comparison is easy. Both films take a big social issue, distill it, and tell the story of real human cost. If you love electric, slow-burning, beautifully shot, gutting, and exciting indie debuts from first-time feature directors, you will love Merawi Gerima’s Residue (released by Ava DuVernay’s Array). 
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How Good Is It? A few minutes into Residue, a white man across the street cheerily says to our lead, Jay (Obinna Nwachukwu), “Welcome to the neighbourhood” after threatening to call the cops if he doesn’t turn down his music. The four words are chilling. Jay is returning home from Los Angeles to the Washington block where he grew up. It’s his neighbourhood. The casual way this faceless man (in a brilliant style choice, none of the white people are filmed in full) issues a threat against Jay and obnoxiously occupies a space that isn’t his, acts as an example of all the faceless white people across North America's gentrifying neighbourhoods. 
Slowly, and through dream-like sequences and straight-up weird surreal imagery, we see more of what cocktail-drinking white girls and overbearing white residents encroaching on a Black neighbourhood looks like. We learn about Jay’s friends, who are now scattered for various reasons and distrusting of their old friend since he’s now an outsider. We meet Jay’s parents, who are being bombarded with calls from a man trying to buy their house, who leaves chipper messages on their answering machine. We find out that Jay is writing a screenplay about Q Street, his old stomping grounds, and his childhood friends. 
The film is littered with Jay’s disjointed memories and fresh disappointments. There’s no going home again. His friend Delonte (Dennis Lindsey) is one of the standout supporting characters; in one scene, when he balks at being described as “voiceless,” we learn so much about him with so little. Gerima, a Washington native himself (and son of director Haile Gerima), accomplishes so much with his simple script and precise direction. As the outstanding reviews have already raved, he’s one to watch in Hollywood. Just ask Ava DuVernay.
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When the movie was released on the streaming platform, she tweeted, “When you are up at 4am to track reviews for Merawi Gerima’s RESIDUE which you are distributing and the @NYTimes makes it a Critic’s Pick and @Guardian gives it 5 stars and @WashingtonPost writes a love letter, you cry in the dark. You cry for Black film. For a family legacy.”
Now, I’m crying. 
Things that are also good:
• The delightful Julie and the Phantoms on Netflix — it’s like Josie and the Pussycats’ paranormal little sister
• TIFF may be over, but reading up on the festival’s best films by women is still good
• Crying on the phone with director Tracey Deer
• The fact that REMEMBER THE TITANS (a cinematic masterpiece) celebrates its 20th anniversary this week, and it’s on Disney+. 
Amanda Parris, for doing the Lord’s work and letting me know that Sailor Moon is now on Crave
Defunding the police

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