Hip-hop comes back to Brooklyn in Dave Chappelle's Block Party, a "contagiously joyful" and wisecracking concert documentary. Eternal Sunshine helmer Michel Gondry shot the footage, but this was the brainchild of the titular comedian who called in a few favours from pals like Kanye West. Although it wasn't massive at the box office, the film has the makings of a cult hit on DVD.
A Party Atmosphere
When Chappelle first came up with the idea of this concert he wanted to stage it in Central Park. But in the half-hour documentary September In Brooklyn, he explains that he quickly came to the realisation that "you gotta take it back to the people" and so he took it to the streets of Brooklyn. This was a nightmare for producer Skot Bright who had little control over the environment and was also at the mercy of bad weather. When reports of a hurricane filter through on the night before the party, Chappelle confesses, "I'm feeling this feeling of impending doom." In contrast nothing seems to faze Gondry. He bounds around with his camera like an excited little boy - keen to getting away from what he calls the "artificial energy" of excessive cutting in most concert documentaries.
Davey From The Block
Ohio Players is a 20-minute featurette that begins in Chappelle's hometown of Yellow Springs, Ohio - in his eyes "a hippy town". It's here that he recruits the Central State University marching band who kick off the Block Party. We get to spend a little more time with them on their hair-raising journey to New York in the midst of a torrential downpour. The episode threatens to turn into a High School version of Poseidon when one of the buses springs a leak...
Talking of hair-raising, a deleted sequence puts the spotlight on the eccentric old couple who live in the Broken Angel House overlooking the party venue. We're given the full tour of this gothic building (and apparent bomb site) while the female half of the duo tells us, "I want to live to at least 400-years-old as I am a witch." Um, yes... the Marilyn Manson gig is a bit further down the road, love.
Wrapping up the bonus menu are four extended musical performances from the likes of Dead Prez, Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane. It's an offbeat set of extras for an offbeat film, but it's bound to leave you in a feel-good groove.