Concert film keeps Jay-Z in spotlight

`Fade to Black' was rapper's `farewell'


November 05, 2004|By Kevin Crust | Kevin Crust,LOS ANGELES TIMES

If you're disappointed that the Jay-Z and R. Kelly tour will no longer feature the R&B star half of the bill, fret not, you can still experience the "Best of Both Worlds" in the concert documentary Fade to Black.

The film is a celebration of rapper Jay-Z's November 2003 show at Madison Square Garden where the hip-hop superstar/mogul marked his "retirement" from solo performing, giving and receiving shout-outs from his fans and friends.

The movie, directed by Michael John Warren (though Jay-Z takes the possessive "a film by" credit using his given name, Shawn Carter), begins promisingly enough with the sound of a helicopter a la Apocalypse Now, and soon we are hovering high over a beautifully lighted Manhattan skyline.

It's clear early on, however, that this is standard concert film fare geared to the faithful, rather than hip-hop's answer to The Band's rocking, nostalgic farewell film The Last Waltz.

It's rightfully heavy on performance, with backstage and recording studio footage mixed with an all-star jam of hip-hop and R&B performers, but does little to give any insight into Jay-Z the artist or the human being.

In addition to Kelly, Beyonce (Jay-Z's main squeeze), Missy Elliot, Mary J. Blige and Foxy Brown are among those sharing the stage for a night of bling-bling fueled fireworks.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Fade to Black

Starring Jay-Z, et al.

Directed by Michael John Warren

Released by Paramount Classics

Rated R (pervasive language, including sexual lyrics)

Time: 109 minutes

Sun Score **1/2

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