Jump to content



Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo

HTF Review: Dave Chappelle's Block Party


This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
7 replies to this topic

#1 of 8 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

Sam Posten

    Executive Producer



  • 16,866 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 30 1997
  • Real Name:Sam Posten
  • LocationAberdeen, MD & Navesink, NJ

Posted June 18 2006 - 05:26 PM

http://www.hometheat...overs/72453.jpg">






Title: Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
Rated: Not Rated
Screen format: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment / Rogue Pictures
Year first released: 2005
DVD released: June 13, 2006
Director: Michel Gondry
Starring: Dave Chappelle, Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, The Fugees, Dead Prez, Erikah Badu, Jill Scott, The Roots, Central State University Marching Band
Sound Formats: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Length: 1 hour 50 Minutes
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French



Plot: 2.5/5

Join Dave Chappelle and friends as they take over a block in Brooklyn, NY and put on a block party featuring some of today’s biggest names in hip hop. Right off the bat I have to admit to not knowing a lot about any of the performers featured, but that’s all right. The music here isn’t really the most interesting thing going on in this movie, and in fact the actual performances only take up about half the screen time. What this movie is in fact, all about is Dave both saying ‘Hey I’m ok, I’m not really nuts, I still know how to make people laugh, I still know how to have a good time, I know what I like in music and I’m not afraid to spend a ridiculous amount of money to make it happen', and 'hey I’m just a small town guy with small town friends and I can bring them along to show this other side of me too!’

There really is no plot to speak of here, things progress from a few days before the block party through the final performance. The plans for this movie and the block party itself seem to have been both carefully planned and then completely thrown together at the last minute. The attendees were bussed in from around NY, found out at the last minute through Chappelle message boards, or were invited and bussed in from Dave’s home town by his personal invitation. At the last possible minute Dave runs across a MARCHING BAND, and convinces them to drive 8 hours in the rain to attend and perform. It is the interaction with the Central State U. band and the kooks of the neighborhood that make up the rest of the film time. Woodstock this is not.


Sound Quality: 3/5

Again, I’m not a big fan of the style of music featured in this film, but I did enjoy a few of the performances, particularly Dead Prez, whom I had never heard of, and Kanye Wests’s “Jesus Walks” which I had heard in the Jarhead soundtrack. The others in the film seemed to pretty much all run together for me, although I am sure fans will think I am nuts. Looking past those performances, it seems that the Dolby Digital 5.1 is completely wasted here, with very little low end and zero surround workout. The concert sequences appear to have been pulled directly from the mixing board which is fine, but they often just felt a little flat. The dialogue from the non concert sequences was all clear, there just wasn’t anything noteworthy going on in the surround mix, ever.

Visual Quality: 3/5

If there is a villain to this movie, it is the rain. The day of the block party is a dreary drizzly day, and because of that the look of the movie is very dark and down. While that matches the section of Brooklyn that it takes place in, the visuals suffer for it. The performers seem to rise to the occasion and the crowd never seems to let it affect them however.

This movie appears to have been shot via high definition video and then transferred to film. Because of this, the shots are very sharp but the colors are not as deeply saturated as a true film would have been, and the poorly lit interiors and dreary day outside don’t help. The concert sequences are however very good, no complaints there. Some sequences appear to have been shot in a ‘night vision’ mode and they look a bit hokey. Besides those, grain was not evident nor was any major edge enhancement ever a factor.

Extra Features: 3.5/5

While there is a nice selection of bonus features on this disk, most of it is of questionable interest. Fans of the performers will enjoy seeing extended cuts and seeing those performers behind the scenes, but you have to wonder just how many people will dig watching the CSU band drive cross country to attend. There just isn’t any connection and no drama. There is an extensive featurette which details the making of the film, at it seems to confirm that much of it was kind of thrown together at the last minute and that the local residents are just plain crazy. While the packaging blares out ‘The unrated version you couldn’t see in theaters’ there doesn’t seem to be anything controversial or titillating at all.

Overall: 3/5 (not an average)

Fans of the genre are sure to dig this all star collection of hip hop performances, however those looking for a lot of Chappelle’s trademark antics aren’t likely to go away fully satisfied. It’s good to see Dave hasn’t gone into hiding and is willing to try something this high profile, however the execution just didn’t make it all that interesting unless you are the true fan of that kind of music. And before you criticize me, suggesting that I’m not the right person to review this movie because of my limited exposure, keep in mind that the whole principle of the film itself was for Dave to bring his love of hip-hop and his laid back rural neighbors together. While I’m two states away, it could have been MY neighborhood that Dave drove into Brooklyn to take part. And I really do empathize with those neighbors, it seems they were bewildered, and while they had a little fun and may have enjoyed the show, they went away wondering ‘What was I really supposed to get out of that???’

I lost my signature and all I got was this Nutter t-shirt


#2 of 8 OFFLINE   Rhoq

Rhoq

    Supporting Actor



  • 734 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 01 2004

Posted June 19 2006 - 02:09 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
What this movie is in fact, all about is Dave both saying ‘Hey I’m ok, I’m not really nuts, I still know how to make people laugh, I still know how to have a good time, I know what I like in music and I’m not afraid to spend a ridiculous amount of money to make it happen', and 'hey I’m just a small town guy with small town friends and I can bring them along to show this other side of me too!’

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 of 8 OFFLINE   James D S

James D S

    Screenwriter



  • 1,002 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 14 2000

Posted June 19 2006 - 08:56 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
And I really do empathize with those neighbors, it seems they were bewildered, and while they had a little fun and may have enjoyed the show, they went away wondering ‘What was I really supposed to get out of that???'
That's how I felt when I left the theater.

#4 of 8 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

Sam Posten

    Executive Producer



  • 16,866 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 30 1997
  • Real Name:Sam Posten
  • LocationAberdeen, MD & Navesink, NJ

Posted June 19 2006 - 12:39 PM

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

Sam

I lost my signature and all I got was this Nutter t-shirt


#5 of 8 OFFLINE   Nathan A

Nathan A

    Second Unit



  • 353 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 03 2001

Posted June 20 2006 - 11:49 AM

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.

Quote:
Fans of the genre are sure to dig this all star collection of hip hop performances, however those looking for a lot of Chappelle’s trademark antics aren’t likely to go away fully satisfied. It’s good to see Dave hasn’t gone into hiding and is willing to try something this high profile, however the execution just didn’t make it all that interesting unless you are the true fan of that kind of music.
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 of 8 OFFLINE   Russell G

Russell G

    Lead Actor



  • 9,985 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 20 2002
  • Real Name:Russell
  • LocationDeadmonton

Posted June 21 2006 - 08:56 AM

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 of 8 OFFLINE   Russell G

Russell G

    Lead Actor



  • 9,985 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 20 2002
  • Real Name:Russell
  • LocationDeadmonton

Posted June 22 2006 - 08:20 AM

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 of 8 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

Rich Malloy

    Producer



  • 3,999 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 09 2000

Posted June 22 2006 - 08:48 AM

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?"

Quote:
Dave Chappelle's Problem, by Willing Davidson
Briefly, Chappelle's troubles: By 2005, he had surpassed Chris Rock as white America's favorite black comic. While Rock was garnering mixed reviews for his routines as host of the Oscars—Hollywood proving more fond of Halle Berry's flavor of blackness—Chappelle signed a lucrative deal with Comedy Central for two more seasons of Chappelle's Show. But shortly after, Chappelle disappeared, surfacing months later in South Africa. He offered no explanation, and speculation centered on the usual afflictions of suddenly famous black men. He, like Bobby Brown and Richard Pryor before him, had taken seriously to various processed forms of the coca leaf. He couldn't stand the pressure of staying funny. He had literally gone crazy and ran abroad for medical care.

The truth is simpler, and more interesting. Chappelle had, essentially, become uncomfortable with playing a black fool for white audiences. Upon his return from Africa, he told Oprah Winfrey a revealing anecdote: While Chappelle acted out a sketch that featured him as a pixie in blackface, he heard a white crew member laughing a little too hard. This was, apparently, the galvanizing moment that caused Chappelle to reassess the intent of his comedy, and the kind of laughs he was giving his audience. As he told Time, "I want to make sure I'm dancing and not shuffling."

And if you didn't know, let me be as clear on the point as I can: Dave Chappelle and certain of these performers - very notably The Roots, Jill Scott, Talib Kweli, and to a lesser extent Mos Def, Kanye, and all the rest with the possible exception of Dead Prez - play primarly to white audiences. The former group to a very small white audience. As ?uestlove, drummer for The Roots and essentially the musical director for the whole show (except for The Fugees set) put it: "Dave, like us, is in a situation where his audience doesn't look like him."

And when Chappelle proclaims “This is the concert I always wanted to see”, I couldn’t agree more. I'm part of that white audience that loves these acts. The Roots, Talib Kweli and Jill Scott, in particular, but the entire lineup are on my favorites list, with the (former) exception of Dead Prez - "Block Party" was my first exposure to them.

Quote:
In Dave Chappelle's Block Party, the Roots, Common, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Dead Prez, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Kanye West, and the reunited Fugees all converge on a street corner in what the movie insists is Bed-Stuy (though many in the neighborhood would call it by a less significant name—Clinton Hill) and give powerful, stunning performances.

The movie presents Chappelle and his guests as preoccupied with notions of blackness, and of how to present blackness in a white world. It becomes apparent that this concert is not only a gift to the audience, but, in that the audience is predominantly black, a gift and a relief to the performers.

All the musicians listed above are more popular with whites than with blacks. Hip-hop is, as the media constantly trumpets, more listened to by whites, because blacks are a minority. But the audience for these artists, mostly belonging to a school of rap music that has been unfortunately labeled "conscious" hip-hop, is even more white-dominated than hip-hop in general. It was seen as a thinking man's alternative to the crass Biggies and Tupacs of the mainstream. Nowadays, even many whites have left this mentality behind. White writers on trend-influencing music Web sites such as Pitchforkmedia.com—or Slate—regularly praise the genius behind much mainstream hip-hop, with its fixation on cocaine dealing. Conscious hip-hop, then, is often left with less-trendy white youth, the cultural laggards.

Sad prospects for black artists who are legitimately trying to engage the black personal and political experience. It's no wonder Chappelle is confused: He shares his favorite music with the people who love him. He's unable to escape white people. This, then, is what makes the block party such an exciting, heady experience for Chappelle and his guests: a chance to speak to the audience they want, not the audience they have.

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!
"Only one is a wanderer;
Two together are always going somewhere."





Forum Nav Content I Follow