October 23, 2017

Mozart In the Jungle on Amazon


With all of the hoopla over Amazon’s streaming series “Transparent,” I wanted to give a little love to their original program offering, “Mozart in the Jungle,” a comedy-drama set in the world of the symphonic orchestra.

The show is actually based on a 2005 memoir, “Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music” by oboist Blair Tindall who has played with the New York Philharmonic, various classical ensembles and in the pits of many Broadway shows. The fictional version starts with conductor Thomas (played by Malcolm McDowell) reluctantly passing the baton to younger firebrand conductor Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal). Bernadette Peters graces the screen as symphonic benefactress Gloria joined by Saffron Burrows as a cellist having an affair with the married outgoing conductor. Lola Kirke plays Hailey, the neophyte oboist who finds herself immersed in the crazy world of New York music-making and urban living.

Roman Coppola (son of Francis Ford and sister of Sofia) has co-written the series with cousin Jason Schwartzman (son of Francis Ford’s sister Talia Shire) and Alex Timbers.
The pilot episode has some jarring scenes that over-emphasize the sex and drugs in the story, but stayed tuned until the 2nd episode where the series finds a better balance between titillation and engaging drama. Bernal is simply fantastic as the passionate Latin conductor (supposedly based on real-life maestro Gustavo Dudamel), but the whole cast of characters will endear you with this look into the on and off-stage antics of musicians and citizenry both bohemian and well-heeled in New York City.

This ten episode series is now available on Amazon Prime Video. As I have mentioned before, Amazon Prime membership (currently $99) not only includes much free movie and tv programming but free shipping on Prime merchandise, unlimited photo storage and free on-line music and Kindle books. Not a bad bargain if Amazon keeps featuring well-done original programming like “Mozart in the Jungle.”

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