Hot off Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, director Michel Gondry takes an abrupt left turn with a documentary about US comedian Dave Chappelle hosting a block party in Brooklyn, where the likes of Kanye West, the Fugees, Jill Scott, Mos Def and Erykah Badu rock the house. Gondry has previous directing music videos so it’s not so much of a stretch but the idea is unusual – we watch as Chappelle organises things, calling in favours from friends, putting the celebrity lock on people too timid to turn him down while a camera is rolling, but most of all he’s handing out tickets to just about anyone he runs across in Dayton, Ohio, the tickets being good for a bus ride, a room, food and entry to the block party in Brooklyn, New York. The action cuts between performances which you could characterise as relaxed, if you were feeling kind, Chappelle trying out his gags on the band in rehearsal and scenes shot in Ohio, where Chappelle is handing out the tickets. It’s nice, it’s a record of a pleasant day out had by a bunch of people who wouldn’t normally hang together. But, apart from being a fabulous testimonial to Chappelle, I suspect you really had to be there.
© Steve Morrissey 2006