‘Django’: Life — And Music — During Wartime

Though overall, a disappointment – I’m glad I finally got to see Django, which just hit my local cable movie offerings. I’ll first ac-cent-uate the positive, and say actor Reta Kateb makes a dashing Django Reinhardt. I’ll add  that close-ups of Ketab’s guitar fingering is as impressive as … well, Sean Penn’s, anyway. I can forgive even the amount of fabrication in the screenplay. But, by the time Django with his gypsy bandmates and family are planning their escape from Nazi-occupied France in 1943, the movie just seems to run out of gas. (I’d say run out of heart, but the movie’s never has much of that to begin with.) The movie did make me pull out my Django recordings and listen to Minor Swing, Nuages, (the unofficial anthem of the French Resistance) and Sweet Georgia Brown. And that’s always a good thing.

Read the LA Times Review below:

In German-occupied France, guitarist Django Reinhardt (Reda Kateb) awakens to the horrors inflicted upon his people in this musically accomplished but “oversimplified, underfed and overburdened” film.

A bar fight breaks out during a pivotal scene in Django, the musically crisp yet mournful new wartime drama by Étienne Comar. As the fracas unfolds, the band keeps playing, with a blithe bemusement that seems to say: This happens all the time. But these are far from normal times.

The leader of the band is Django Reinhardt, the incomparably gifted Romani jazz guitarist, soulfully embodied by the French-Algerian actor Reda Kateb. He’s biding his time in the French Alps during German occupation, hoping for stealth passage across Lake Geneva into Switzerland. One of the men throwing punches is a Nazi solider, which means the inevitable: a lineup, a lockup and the sternest of warnings. Reinhardt is no good, it would seem, at laying low.

Kateb studied the guitar for a year to prepare for this role, and his work is evident: There’s an unstudied naturalism to the flicker of his fingers across the fretboard, and the film perks up whenever music is playing [ . . . ]

Read Full Review at: ‘Django’: Life — And Music — During Wartime

Etienne Comar’s “Django Melodies”

mike
I’m greatly anticipating the upcoming release of Etienne Comar’s film,”Django Melodies,” which aims to tell a chapter from the extraordinary life story of legendary French jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt , specifically Django’s adventures trying to flee from Nazi persecution during World War II.
Reinhardt co-founded the iconic Quintette du Hot Club de France with violinist Stéphane Grappelli in the 1930s. He is regarded as the father of jazz manouche, or gypsy jazz.
The movie stars Reda Kateb as Django, Cécile De France (so terrific in the Dardenne BrothersThe Kid With the Bike) and the beautiful Hungarian folk singer Palya Bea.
The cast certainly looks the part (see below.) The proof of the pudding (or better, gypsy goulash) will be Comar’s telling of Django’s thrilling story fleeing the Nazis, and not in any attempted recreation of Django’s guitar playing. Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown was a very good movie, and Sean Penn received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his portrayal as the Django-obsessed “Emmet,” despite the fact that Penn’s guitar fingering was not particularly realistic. Certainly, the manner in which Django’s wonderful gypsy jazz music is presented will help determine the film’s success, but hopefully there will be few closeups of guitar fingering. Why bother?
Django Melodies marks the directorial debut of Comar, who also co-wrote the script with Alexis Salatko. Dutch jazz band Rosenberg Trio re-recorded Reinhardt’s music for the film’s soundtrack.
– [Mike Stevenson / Pas De Merde]


Django, sa femme, son groupe et… Etienne Comar, le réalisateur

Penned by Etienne Comar together with Alexis Salatko, and based on the novel Folles de Django, written by the latter, the story kicks off during the German occupation in 1943.

Gypsy Django Reinhardt, a true “guitar hero”, is at the top of his game. Every evening, he thrills the Paris smart set at the Folies Bergères cabaret music hall with his swing music, while elsewhere in Europe his brethren are being hunted down and butchered.

When the German propaganda machine wants to send him to Berlin for a series of concerts, he senses he is in danger and decides to escape to Switzerland with the help of one of his female admirers, Louise de Klerk. In order to make it there, he heads to Thonon-les-Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva with his pregnant wife, Naguine, and his mother, Negros. But the escape attempt turns out to be more complicated than anticipated, and Django and his family find themselves plunged headfirst into war.

Nevertheless, even during this dramatic period, he remains an exceptional musician who puts up a fight through his music and his sense of humour, and who seeks to attain musical perfection. [http://cineuropa.org/]