Thursday, April 12, 2007

Two overlooked music docs of the month - BRASILEIRINHO and DAVE CHAPPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY

I hate this! I don't like it at all. I like beaches, and drinking and girls. In all the ads, they say Come to Brazil. We've got beaches and drinking and girls. They don't say, we've got vicious angry mobs that chase you into the jungle.Two very different music docs out on DVD. The first is a doc called BRASILERINHO from Finnish director (and brother of Aki) Mika Kaurismäki. For 90 minutes we get virtuosi Brazilian musicians playing choro - the prescursor of samba and the first truly Brazilian form of music. It combines European classical dance forms, complex inprovisation and counter-point, and African rhythem. At first we see small ensembles playing in concert halls - mostly guitars and mandolins. Slowly we add in tambourine players, brass players, singers and veen dancers, before a rousing big band finale. The documentary is evidently a labour of love and passion and the virtuosity of the musicians shines through. The quality of music is exceptional and the director has the good sense not to complicate matters with over-editing. What we do have is a very high quality sound mix (Uwe Dresch) and lensing (Jacques Cheuiche) that holds a steady close admiring view of the players. Because the doc does not spend too much time contextualising the music or imposing a narrative structure on the music, non music-buffs might be frustrated. For my part, this was a fascinating concert doc, and when it was over, Doc007 and I immediately went back and played our favourite tracks over. Perfect for a rare balmy London evening.

Attention Huxtubles. There is a Block Party down the street. Bring Yourselves. BRING YOURSELVES! And bring Rudy, Theo, and Denise.The second doc is DAVE CHAPPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY. This is a production that brims over with good-will - as befits a project wherein a super-rich comedian local-boy brings a bunch of world-class rap stars back home to Bed-Sty for a free street concert. There's enough of Dave Chappelle charming people into turning up and free-style riffing on stage for those of use who've never caught his Comedy Central show to realise what a good comedian he is. And there's enough concert footage for us to appreciate the musicianship. But the doc lacks the simple focus of BRASILEIRINHO - the sets are too short and the comedy too fleeting. I love Jill Scott and The Fugees and there simply wasn't enough of either! I'm also unconvinced by Michel Gondry and Ellen Kuras (DP)'s shooting style. The movie seems seems to unsettled - too choppy - and distracts from the musicians. Still, all of us waiting for that Fugees reunion will take what we can get.

BRASILEIRINHO played Berlin 2006 and was released in France and Belgium in 2005, in Finland and Hungary in 2006 and in the UK on March 23rd 2007. It is now available on DVD.

DAVE CHAPPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY played Toronto 2006 and Berlin 2006. It opened in the US, UK, Germany, France, Czach Republic, Greece, and Japan in 2006. It is available on DVD.

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