Comedian Dave Chappelle had a dream that, one day, his favorite hip-hop and neosoul artists would play a free concert. So he called in some favors and organized a daylong block party in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. The guests that showed up constituted a mix-and-match of urban music from the past decade—Mos Def and Talib Kweli, Kanye West, Erykah Badu, the Roots, Dead Prez and, amazingly, the reunited Fugees—all of whom spent a rainy September day entertaining hundreds of folks. And luckily, Michel Gondry was capturing the whole thing for posterity.
You’d never know the music-video director was involved if you’d missed the credits, as Gondry trades in his usual surreal flourishes for a simpler for-hire sensibility. It’s to the far-out French filmmaker’s credit that he retains the day’s funky, dynamic vibe by simply documenting what these artists do best: move crowds. There’s no trickery that Gondry could use to improve Jill Scott’s super-human rendition of “You Got Me,” or the goose-bumpery epidemic that happens once the Fugees ferociously break into “Nappy Heads.” But it’s really Chappelle’s show here, with the comedian cracking up everyone within a mile radius when-ever he opens his mouth. The musicians provide the Block-rockin’ beats, and Gondry gives us a kinetic scrapbook of the event; it’s the comedian’s constant shtick onstage and off, however, that turns a semidecent concert movie into such a delirious secondhand high. (Opens Fri; see Index for venues.)—David Fear