(K. Brent Tomer),
THE Berlinale often makes a point of confronting Germany’s past, as well as addressing today’s political issues. Both boxes are ticked by this year’s opening film, “Django”, a handsome drama about the great Romani jazz guitarist and composer, Django Reinhardt (Reda Kateb). Etienne Comar, its writer-director, has taken the wise decision not to attempt a cradle-to-grave biopic of the Belgian-born Reinhardt; he concentrates instead on 1943, when his Hot Club quintet was the toast of Nazi-occupied Paris.
The film introduces Reinhardt with a vibrant, extended concert sequence. He and his white-jacketed sidekicks are in a plush theatre, playing with such flair and beaming pleasure that cinema-goers will be tapping their feet along with the audience in the theatre. The twist is that many of the men in that audience are German officers. Reinhardt’s friends and relatives keep asking him what he is doing. Shouldn’t he leave the city? Shouldn’t he refuse to play for Nazis? Can or should art be separate from the people consuming it?
The Nazi officials who come to see Reinhardt play are vexed by that last question. As smitten as they are by his…Continue reading