....and it was the best party I've been to in some time. If you've never heard of Dave Chappelle (as I hadn't) he's one of the funniest and apparently, richest comedians in the US. Dave Chappelle's Bloc Party, directed by Michel Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, follows the comedian around his home town of Ohio and New York as he organises a free concert in Brooklyn. He invites just about everyone he sees managing to persuade a black college marching band, white people, old people and middle aged women who all find it very difficult to resist his charm. The concert was free and all concert goers were told to meet at a secret location in Chinatown, where they were taken by bus to the concert location in Brooklyn, which was also a secret.
The music is amazing and I think it's a winner even if you don't like hip hop, with performances from Kanye West, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Common, The Roots and Jill Scott amongst others. Hip Hop somehow sounds ten times better when it's live and accompanied by live instruments. The aggressiveness is somehow toned down by the live music.
One of the best moments for me was during a performance by Erykah Badu when her huge afro threatens to blow off in the wind and she rips it off leaving her looking vulnerable and almost a different person in her short cropped hair. It contradicted the image of her as a (sometimes too) serious performer. The highlight however was when The Roots performed 'You Got Me' accompanied by Jill Scott and Erykah Badu, two of the best female voices around.
The film would have done well to finish at that point, as the disappointment for me came with an appearance from a reunion of The Fugees singing together for the first time in seven years. Lauren Hill singing 'Killing me Softly' was indeed heart-rendering, but I just felt that the concert was slightly tarnished by ending with a hugely commercial band.
Overall, it's a perfect mix of visual delight, great music, backstage interviews and brilliant humour. It reminded me of Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing' whilst making me want to go to New York there and then. Jamie Bernard from New York Daily News sums it up perfectly: "Once in a great while there's a movie that's so funny, infectious and welcoming - a movie that makes you feel so good about America and the people in it - you just want to climb inside the screen and live there."