great documentary following dave chappelle while he plans his dream block party. i’m not going to comment on the music or the comedy because you should probably know your feelings on both by now. chappelle is what he is (great, in my opinion) and the music is what it is (mostly good, though the fugees showed plenty of rust). rather, i find it more interesting to look at the editing and the film as a marker in the career of dave chappelle.
the editing reveals a subtle fact that we might want to ignore, but one that i think is important: these guys aren’t genius by accident, they work at it. like “comedian” showed rory what’s his face and jerry seinfeld honing their material, block party shows (to a lesser extent) the musicians and dave chappelle working on their material. sure, there’s plenty of natural talent here, but it’s more inspiring to see a guy work on his delivery and timing and the subtitles of his delivery in practice than it is to see a genius come up with things on the fly. that said, both are here. chappelle’s encounter with “mr. t” is one such example. chappelle couldn’t have planned for that and yet he makes the encounter fun and funny. certainly some of the best humor of the film is unplanned, but i really enjoyed the way gondry intercuts the live performance of a joke or musical piece with its rehearsal. it’s like one of the students says at the end of the film: “dave chappelle is just a guy, like me.”
chappelle’s career, i think, is entering its third stage. the first stage was his film career which was marked mostly by bit parts and the cult break out of half baked (directed by tamra davis – mike d’s (of the beastie boys) wife). the second stage of his career started with killing them softly and ended with his trip to africa. this was filmed during the second stage and was released during the third stage of his career. it’s interesting to see him evolve as a person and as a public figure. great artists always have different stages in their career wherein their material or performances or work changes shape. chappelle’s work has matured and i think we’ll see him be more overtly political and socially conscious in the future. this isn’t to say that his work in the second stage of his career wasn’t conscious, it really was, but it was possible to miss. maybe in the future it won’t be.Watched in theater