Published at: Feb. 28, 2006, 4:53 a.m. CST by staff
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with my brief thoughts on the upcoming flick DAVE CHAPPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY, a concert film along the lines of WATTSTAX but substitute hip hop for funk.
I'd say the film, directed by ETERNAL SUNSHINE's Michel Gondry, is about 65% music and 35% Chappelle organizing, rehearsing and recruiting an audience for his Block Party, a free music event on the streets of Brooklyn.
I was eager to see the film because of Gondry's direction and Chappelle's involvement. I don't have anything against rap or hip hop... I'm actually a fan of the earliest incarnations of the form like Run DMC, The Fatboys, Sir Mix-A-Lot, etc. I'm not predisposed to dislike the music, but it's not something I keep up with, really. That's actually true with most modern music... I guess you could say I'm kinda stuck in hey days of oldies rock, classic rock, disco, funk, 80s pop cheese, etc. The only currently active band I make sure to see whenever in town is Tenacious D.
So, as a music fan that is pretty much only one that likes the music he likes (ie someone who doesn't "like everything"), I went into this more as a Dave Chappelle fan.
I followed Chappelle back around his HALF BAKED time. I actually saw him perform at Cap City Comedy Club here in Austin a good 6 or so years ago. He came out after the set, which was fuckin' hilarious, and chatted up the 4 or 5 people who had remained, including this fat white geek. He was really cool to me and even sketched me a stick figure smoking a joint in this sketch-book I carried around in those days.
When Chappelle's Show premiered on Comedy Central I was so happy to see that he was finally getting the exposure he deserved and even happier still that his show was great. Season 2 was heads and tails better than the first season and was well on its way to becoming a centerpiece original show for Comedy Central. Then all that seemed to go away overnight and Chappelle's future was a question mark.
For those Chappelle fans out there, he's in top form in the doc. His humor is as natural as always, as effortlessly funny as he's ever been. Even more you can see the passion in his eyes for this music. It's fun to see him geek out for something, even if it's a geek out I don't personally share.
Of the musicians, the only two I knew of past just simple name recognition was Kanye West and Erykah Badu. West does a pretty electric live version of JESUS WALKS, supported by live horns and back-up singers. Earlier we see a college marching band that Chappelle bussed out to the event work their horns to the same song in front of Kanye who seemed to get a big kick out of it.
Gondry's camerawork is fantastic, especially during the most energetic of performances. He easily slips from one musician to another without losing focus... it's almost as if the whole thing was choreographed, but you can feel the spontaneous energy. It's an electric feeling you don't really find anywhere besides a great concert film.
I really enjoyed the film and I think most of you will, too. Even my fellow crackers out there, although watch out for the son of a murdered Black Panther taking the stage and getting everybody onstage and in the crowd to raise their fists high in the air. That scene is sure to make some white butt-holes clench up in the theater. Not all, surely, but there will be some creeped out white dudes, I guarantee you that.
Good music, good filmmaking and Chappelle being Chappelle. It's what you'd want from this thing.