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Dave Chappelle presents a Brooklyn neighborhood with its very own once-in-a-lifetime free block party. In addition to Chappelle, the roster of artists includes Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Dead Prez, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, the Roots, Cody ChesnuTT, Big Daddy Kane, and - reunited for their first performance in over seven years - the Fugees. Includes private rehearsals footage and Chappelle in the small Ohio town he calls home, where he wanders through town handing out golden tickets to invite several dozen citizens to join the party, providing transportation and lodging for their visit to Brooklyn. Ohio's Central State University marching band makes the trip and kicks off the festivities at the intersection of Quincy and Downing Streets. A diverse crowd and Chappelle's freestyle wit guides them (and us) through a celebration of music and comedy, history and community. Written by
Dave Chappelle's main reason for holding the block party in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn was because, he says, that hip-hop originated there. However, hip-hop really originated in the South Bronx and spread to the other sections of New York soon afterward. See more »
Attention, Huxtables, there is a block party down the street. Bring Yourselves. BRING YOURSELVES! And bring Rudy, Theo, and Denise.
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fans and the artists and Chappelle forged a culture at this party, and this culture is infectious
reviewed by Sam Osborn of www.samseescinema.com
rating: 3.5 out of 4
For a comeback, Dave Chappelle's got it right with Block Party. It isn't a concert film, but features a hefty amount of highlight performances. It also isn't a stand-up comedy, but Chappelle certainly spouts some smile-turning kickers. And Block Party isn't a documentary, but we're left with a sense of culture from the footage of interviews throughout. In truth, Block Party really isn't much of anything, but it's enough to mount dizzying entertainment with the flick of Michel Gondry's hand-held DV camera.
It surrounds the conception, pre-production, production, and post-production of Dave Chappelle's 2005 Brooklyn Block Party. The word "production" is used loosely here, not to connote images of agents frantically finding the rights to singers and their songs and the construction of the set and all the hoo-hah that goes into a major concert. No. By Pre-Production, I mean Dave Chappelle traveling back to hometown Dayton, Ohio to hand out the golden tickets to his fellow citizens. By Production, I mean watching some excellent musical performances on the corner of Downing and Quincy, in front of the Broken Angel warehouse, to the sound of 5,000 screaming fans. And by Post-Production, I mean watching Chappelle and his fellow performers speculate about the show afterwards.
But for all the linearity described here, Block Party doesn't have mind for structure. The film doesn't roll chronologically; instead, Block Party jumps around itself, sometimes going to Ohio, then back to rehearsal, jumping forward to a highlight performance, and then back to Brooklyn at a children's day care where the kids bounce frantically around Chappelle. Gondry worries less about documenting the actual party, opting instead to find an accessible method for the audience's entertainment. If the film was said to be trying hard at any one thing, it would be that Block Party really tries to keep from bogging itself down.
Chappelle himself does well to not hog the screen. In fact, if there was any one complaint, it would be that we don't see Chappelle enough. This is not "Chappelle's Show", after all. There are no skits, and only a few planned scenes of comedy. Mostly, we follow Chappelle around with a couple DV cameras and a boom mic as he explores Dayton and Brooklyn, speaking to their inhabitants and hearing their stories. But this isn't to say that Chappelle avoids humor. We all know Dave Chappelle's a funny man when he's not even trying. Believe me, there are many laughs to be had. The style digs down to why we loved Dave Chappelle in the first place. Seeing him walk around his hometown in a state of relative normalcywithout spotlights or producers and writersoffers Block Party a homegrown attitude. The music reflects this, showcasing artists that inhabit the quality of music, instead of the financial returns that go along with it.
And the music's great, too. Gondry does well not to overdose on it, aware that that the beats may grow tiresome for the anti-rap audience. He only showcases one or two songs at a time, jumping back to another Chappelle experience in between. But whether or not you're a regular fan of rap (I'm not), Block Party's music is sure to rouse some sort of reaction. The attitude and community behind the music is what makes it great. The fans and the artists and Chappelle forged a culture at this party, and this culture is infectious. At the theatre, much of the audience started dancing and moving to the music in their seats, some even raising their arms at the musicians' demand. And at it's heart, it's just about everyonethe fans, the artists, the theatre audience, and Chappellejust having a good time.
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