Most of you know during the summer of 2004 I worked, as an intern in production, for director Michel Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and some of the best music videos and commercials ever).
In the end of September, as I was preparing to leave, Michel and his assistant, Raffi Adlan were preparing a new movie with Dave Chapelle. At the time, I didn't know exactly what it would be. I knew it'd be a mix of music and comedy, but that's all. Would it be on Comedy Central, out in the theatres? It didn't really matter to me, I was just to happy to just send a Fedex to Dave.
Fast Forward to 2006, and Dave Chapelle's Block party is released nationwide in the theatre. Event though I'm not credited - no reason I should be, really - it thrills me for two reasons.
Number one: for the past two years (starting with my internship at Partizan, really), I've had the chance to see how "entertainment stuff" gets created. It might be art, it might be someone's vision, but at the start, there's always business. And somehow, from a few talks, an idea, some money (lots of money), movies are made. When I left my internship just a few phone calls had been made, and next thing I know, I'm seating in a theatre watching a feature-length film.
Number two: I've been a huge fan of Michel Gondry since "Eternal Sunshine" hit me in 2004, a few months before I got the chance to work with him - watch out for it way up in my top 26. I've since discovered with amazing videos (Bjork's "human behavior", Daft Punk's "Around the World", IAM's "MIA"), his insane genial mind and openness to all kind of art.
He proves it once more here, with a film like no other. Part documentary, part concert, part comedy, "Block Party" is the ultimate feel-good, socially aware american film.
It's entertaining, thanks in part to Dave's personality and humor, and in part to the amazing lineup of musicians: Kanye West, Common, The Roots, and a reunion of the fugees - by the way, I'm no hip-hop die-hard fan, but I've discovered Kanye West recently, and I can't stop listening to it. His performance here is fantastic, with great vocals by John Legend as well. And hear Lauryn Hill sing "Killing me softly" again could make anyone cry.
But more important, it's a great reflection on the state of America. It shows a part of New York you probably won't see when you visit, with a population 90% black and poor, but more importantly so happy to be there. The reaction of a Ohio Marching Band - with their poor means, and obviously usually unknown performing place - when they learn they'll travel to New York is priceless, definitely the high-point of the movie.