HTF Review: Dave Chappelle's Block Party

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Sam Posten, Jun 18, 2006.

  1. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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  2. Rhoq

    Rhoq Supporting Actor

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    This "Block Party" event was held in September of 2004, a little over a year before Dave infamous sabbatical to South Africa.

    --

    Hi Sam,

    I made a "blind" impulse purchase of this DVD last week and sat down on Saturday afternoon to check it out. Going into it, I didn't know what to expect and when it was all said and done, it was a bit different than what I had anticipated. Overall, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. You summed it up nicely in your review - those expecting more comedy than music will be disappointed. Those looking for a great documentary featuring some very funny moments and some great music (admittedly, I am not a fan on contemporary hip-hop) should find a lot to like about this film. This is something that you can sit down and relax with a cold six pack to and just enjoy the sights and sounds for 2 hours.
     
  3. James D S

    James D S Screenwriter

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    That's how I felt when I left the theater.
     
  4. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Oh Wow, I thought it was September of 05! Well, that shoots that theory down in flames then!

    Sam
     
  5. Nathan A

    Nathan A Second Unit

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    Your review reflects what my brother thought of the film. He didn't much care for it- he doesn't like hip-hop, and it wasn't as full of humor as he was expecting.

    But I can't help but think that you both just missed what (I think) it was all about- giving something amazing to a bunch of people you don't even know, just so you can bring something great and surprising into their lives. It's hard not to have a big smile on your face throughout the movie as you see these people's reactions to Dave's generosity and the whole event in general. Why'd Dave do it? As far as the movie presents it, just to let a lot of people have a really good time. And that- is amazing in itself. Worth watching, for sure.

    The film's appeal shouldn't be restricted to fans of hip-hop. If what I wrote above makes you at all interested, you should give it a shot. I think that it is, after all, more of a documentary than a concert video (although there is a good deal of concert footage).

    Also, Dave is still funny, and there are plenty of funny moments. I don't think I ever went more than a couple minutes without laughing.
     
  6. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    I bought this for the sole reason that it's directed by Michel Gondry. I haven't had a chance to watch it though. Ahh hell, that's what blind buys are all about, taking a chance.

    Impressive review though. I like that it's neither dismissive or gushing for the film. I wish more reviewers where willing to be honest enough to basically say: it wasn't great, it wasn't terrible, it just WAS. At least that's what I got from your review.
     
  7. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    Okay, you can all let out your baited breaths, I have watched Block Party, and I decree it to be both "good" and "worth your while"

    My main concern was that I would hate and want to fast forward through the music, and I was surprised that this is not the case. While I would typically describe most "modern" hip hop as "boring", I found it "refreshing" in this case. My other concern was with Mr. Chappelle himself as I have never really seen anything with him, other than the odd clip. Dave too, was a rather enjoyable host for the event. I think what I like best about it was that it wasn't for charity, it wasn't a political thing, it was just, "let's have a party".

    To my fellow Canadians: This is another golden Aliance release. While the extras seem to be the same, on my amp, the 5.1 would only decode as 2 channel (it lights up the speakers* that are getting signals, and only the front 2 would light, other 5.1 discs light up all 5 speakers.), despite not having a 2 channel option. Is this happening to anyone else? I haven't tried it on other players. Sam mentioned the 5.1 sounding flat, is this happening in the USA as well?


    * on the FRONT DISPLAY, it doesn't actually "light up" the physical speakers.
     
  8. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I also liked this flick a lot – though I suppose it helps to come in both as a big fan of Chappelle and all the acts he assembles for the party (particularly, in my case, The Roots, Jill Scott, and Talib Kweli). I emphatically sympathize with the reviewer, as I've gotten more assignments on topics that I don't know the first thing about and could not care less for. It sucks to have to work something up on a topic for which you have no passion and no desire to learn about. And, certainly, one can't be expected to know all things - I'm hopelessly ignorant in such a multitude of areas that it would be ridiculous to attempt to list them.

    Is this a great film? No, not really. Is it something slightly less, a great "concert film"? It definitely doesn't compare to "Monterey Pop", and unlike "Gimme Shelter", there is no unexpected turn-of-events that transforms it into an era-defining ("end-of-era" defining?) cultural moment that will serve as a touchstone for future generations. It's not as ambitious a production as "Woodstock", but it's also not so embarrassingly naive. Structurally, it resembles - nay mimics precisely - Mel Stuart's 1973 film "Wattstax," the docu-concert often dubbed “the black Woodstock", a film that included Richard Pryor as the social comedian-commentator. But, here too, "Block Party" lacks that film's wide-ranging political sensibility, and will likely not be the same sort of social milestone. So what, if any, significance does it have?

    In many ways, it's a much smaller universe that Chappelle's concerned with here, and one might be obliged to say it's Chappelle's own internal struggles - and those of the particular acts he chose to perform - that's really the focus of this event. Back when "Block Party" had its theatrical release, a few critics weighed in on "why Dave?" and "why these specific performers?", and connected it to what we later found out was a roiling internal drama being played out in Chappelle's head, which might be reduced to "am I the satirical observer of race in America that I hope I am?" or "am I white America's latest shufflin' house boy, embodying the worst traits of blacks for the entertainment of whites?"


    And let’s not forget that Dave still seems to be, despite his millions and well-publicized "break-down", an unassuming Midwestern guy from Ohio. He’s no Diddy, thankfully. No clothing lines, just a guy from down the road, your friend’s little brother who’s all elbows and knees, and downright hilarious. And while his comedy is often edgy and discomfitting (to any audience), one gets the sense that Dave loves everybody. I found it truly affecting watching him wander about his home-town, engaging everyone. And just as wonderful to see all those folks show up for the party.

    I also loved the backstage stuff, particularly ?uestlove and Mos Def. The visit to the "Broken Angels" house was a hoot, possibly the most Gondryian moment. And even though I'm less a fan of The Fugees than most of the other acts, Hill's vocals and Jean's electric piano for "Killing Me Softly" was very affecting (even though the post-duet portion lacked the kick of the previous acts, mostly - IMO - because it lacked the houseband, essentially The Roots). And though I like Erikah Badu well enough, finding her raw, clenched quasi-Billie Holliday sound to be quite affecting, she's no Jill Scott. And this was the first time I'd ever heard Scott perform her part with The Roots on "You Got Me". And, not surprisingly, performing it more brilliantly than Badu. I have to say the only "down" moment - though somewhat rife with drama - came when ?estlove coaxes Badu onstage during the tune. Badu's voice doesn't lend itself well to harmonizing, and Scott's vocal prowess is simply too much. After a great earlier set by Badu, that was surprisingly light on posture and large on human interaction - including ripping off the fro wig and diving straight into the audience - it was tough to see her, well, embarrassed might be the right word for it.

    One more thing... in a recent interview, Gondry has intimated that there might be another release on DVD with all the performance footage. A fan can hope!
     

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