December 21, 2014 at 11:01 pm #340134
Mozart in the Jungle, Amazon’s next series, will premiere in full on December 23.
The comedy based on the Blair Tindell memoir “Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs & Classical Music,” follows the life of New York Symphony oboist Hailey (Lola Kirke) as Gustavo (Gael Garcia Bernal), a new conductor who has unique methods, takes over the orchestra. Saffron Burrows, Malcolm McDowell, and Bernadette Peters also star.December 21, 2014 at 11:02 pm #340136
TV Review: Amazon’s ‘Mozart in the Jungle’
December 17, 2014 | 07:32AM PT
Buoyed by superb casting and an organic setting for flamboyant, larger-than-life characters, “Mozart in the Jungle” may not qualify as a masterpiece, but it falls squarely into the pleasant-addition-to-the-neighborhood category in Amazon’s impressive package of original series. Indeed, on a conventional network, this half-hour show – whose producers include Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman – would feel like the perfect lead-out to “Alpha House,” the streamer’s D.C.-set comedy, which also provides a satirical window onto a world of money, power and egos that operates by its own arcane set of rules.
In what feels like a particular coup, “Mozart’s” ensemble features Gael Garcia Bernal as the new conductor of the New York Symphony, taking the baton from his imperious predecessor, Thomas, played with appropriate swagger by Malcolm McDowell. Bernal’s maestro Rodrigo is the sort who can get by with one name, Cher-like, while bringing a rock-n-roll vibe to classical music (his hair receives inordinate attention).
That said, he’s uncomfortable with efforts to exploit that mystique by, say, trotting himself out like a prize pony in front of well-heeled donors, as well as a board led by a trustee (Bernadette Peters) seemingly more interested in marketing than music.
All this is witnessed largely through the eyes of the obligatory newcomer, Hailey (Lola Kirke), an oboe player who dreams of more than just giving lessons to snotty rich kids, and who gains an opportunity to audition for the orchestra when Rodrigo begins implementing changes, much to the chagrin of its elder members. Hailey is taken under the wing of Cynthia (Saffron Burrows), a cellist who moonlights by playing in an off-off-Broadway production of a Styx musical (yes, the “I’m Sailing Away” band), which is only one of her interesting extracurricular activities.
Adapted by Coppola, Schwartzman and Alex Timbers from a book by Blair Tindall subtitled “Sex, Drugs & Classical Music,” and directed by Paul Weitz (“About a Boy”), the premiere has a breezy quality that remains intact throughout. That’s helpful, since the sense of urgency surrounding the narrative fades after the first couple of episodes (seven of the 10 were previewed) establish the premise.
Much of the ongoing conflict stems from Rodrigo’s efforts to invigorate an orchestra where members fret a lot about non-musical issues like making sure their designated coffee breaks aren’t overlooked. (Schwartzman, incidentally, appears in a later episode as a podcaster who interviews Thomas, one of several amusing cameos.)
By introducing this series on the heels of “Transparent,” Amazon continues to make waves in the half-hour arena, a genre where others have conspicuously struggled of late. And while “Mozart” is surely a niche confection, the show generally shines by proving long on charm even when it’s short on laughs.
OK, so it’s classical, not a classic. “Mozart in the Jungle” is nevertheless another legitimate player to emerge from the teeming thicket of providers eager to garner attention with prestige programs. And while that might not be enough to bring the crowd to its feet, it’s still worthy of a few “Bravos.”
TV Review: Amazon’s ‘Mozart in the Jungle’
(Series; Amazon, Dec. 23)
Filmed in New York by American Zoetrope, Coconut Pictures and Picrow.
Executive producers, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, Paul Weitz, John Strauss; co-executive producer, Alex Timbers; producers, Michael Zakin, Caroline Baron; director, Weitz; writers, Coppola, Schwartzman, Timbers; based on the book by Blair Tindall; camera, Ben Kutchins; production designer, Sarah Knowles; editor, Catherine Haight; music, Roger Neill; music supervisors, Randall Poster, Meghan Currier; casting, Douglas Aibel, Henry Russell Bergstein. 30 MIN.
Gael Garcia Bernal, Saffron Burrows, Hannah Dunne, Lola Kirke, Peter Vack, Bernadette Peters, Malcolm McDowellDecember 26, 2014 at 5:39 am #340137
Just binge watched this. Gael Garcia Bernal is hilarious.January 7, 2015 at 11:15 pm #340138
I watched this and absolutely loved it. It is smart, edgy and awesome. The cast is absolutely top-notch, and the weakest performance (from Lola Kirke) is still better than many other performances on TV this last season. Gael Garcia Bernal deserves awards for his performance here. Lola Kirke, Malcolm McDowell and Saffron Burrows are also very deserving of nominations.January 27, 2015 at 2:26 pm #340139
I just finished watching the first season of Mozart in the Jungle and thought it was excellent!
Fun, funny, quirky, and poignant, it was always a joy to watch even though some of the episodes were treading water leading up to the finale. Special kudos to wonderful (and usually under-appreciated) character actors Debra Monk, Saffron Burrows, and Malcom McDowell.
I can’t see this series reaping any significant nominations at any major awards; on the Amazon front, Transparent will rightfully receive all of the attention. I so thoroughly enjoyed it, though, and I really hope we get a second season!
Formerly known in the forums as PianoMann.May 12, 2015 at 12:43 am #340140
So I am so happy to see that Gael Garcia Bernal is #9 in the predictions centre. His performance is better than that of Jim Parsons, Matt LeBlanc and Don Cheadle combined. Excellent work. I think we should watch out for Gael as a dark horse for a nomination.
Nominations for Lola Kirke, Malcolm McDowell and Bernadette Peters would be magnificent as well.January 19, 2016 at 4:26 am #340141
The two-time Globe-winning series will be streaming for FREE this weekend only (both seasons)! Full membership price to Amazon Prime is also reduced this weekend only.January 19, 2016 at 11:41 am #340142
Is the show worth starting? I have been debating it.January 19, 2016 at 8:23 pm #340143
I watched all of Season 1 when I had the Prime free month but it ended the day after season 2 premiered so I only could watch half of season 2. I found out too late that Amazon let non prime members stream for free this weekend so it looks like I won’t ever get to finish it unless I borrow someone’s account. Too much of a money commitmentJanuary 20, 2016 at 11:26 am #340144
But was it good?January 20, 2016 at 12:55 pm #340145
Wow, totally forgot where I was going with that post! I was tired last night. It’s a charming show and has some very funny moments. I love Lola Kirke, Gael, Bernadette, and Malcolm McDowell on the show and also Wallace Shawn is great as a guest star and Debra Monk too