Dave Chappelle's Block Party

Dave Chappelle's Block Party


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

In 2004 the hugely popular American comedian and actor Dave Chappelle hooked up with French director Michel Gondry (of assorted pop video and [film]Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind[/film[ fame). Dave wanted to get his assorted musician mates together for a concert somewhere. Gondry suggested that wherever the venue, the concert should really mean something to the people who actually live there.

Considering that a lot of Dave's mates herald from Brooklyn, New York, a street in that area soon seemed like a good place. Considering Dave's mates make efforts to remember their roots and include Kanye West, Mos Def and The Fugees, the residents seemed to be in for some quality hip hop with a local flavour. Considering Dave's success as a stand up, the enterprise could be funny, too.

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Chappelle pulls it off by gathering a great line-up, hosting the concert as a free sidewalk block party, meets and greets the locals for a once in their life times event and frequently gives the funnies for the camera and crowd. The combination of killer music, insights into the locals' living and Chappelle's sharp social satire make this a thoroughly entertaining film.

Following Chappelle and others in the week's run up to the party, rehearsal sessions and on stage, everyone has something interesting to say and Chappelle is always an engaging lead for us. At times he's just plain damn funny.

He also buses over locals from his small Ohio home town, giving many their first chance to go to New York. The episode where he invites the whole of the State University's Marching Band to open proceedings with Kanye West is one of several great, unscriptable moments.

Gondry's direction and Ellen Kuras' cinematography is sufficient enough when following Chappelle around, but the multiple handheld camerawork during the party provides some excellent concert footage. Smart editing mixes well-framed shots with a more roaming, rough-and-ready style to truly convey the live atmosphere and sense of location/occasion to skin-shivering effect. With some spellbinding sets from the artists, which defy you from keeping your head still, you get that inescapable sense that the best concert docs provide. Something truly memorable took place and it really is worthy of your time to watch vicariously.

If you're not into quality hip hop, or Dave's style of humour, this might not be for you. But you're missing out. This is both entertainment and a sound document of a special time in Brooklyn on a September day in 2004.

Reviewed on: 29 Jun 2006
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Dave Chappelle holds a once in a lifetime free street party in Brooklyn.
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Director: Michel Gondry

Writer: Dave Chappelle

Starring: Dave Chappelle, Mos Def, Kanye West, Eryka Badu, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Pras, Big Daddy Kane, Common, Dead Prez, The Roots, Cody ChestnuTT, Talib Kweli, Andre 4000

Year: 2005

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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