Monday, March 20, 2017

Now on Amazon Prime: Mozart in the Jungle (2014)

Mozart in the Jungle (2014) - Created by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, Paul Weitz, Alex Timbers; Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Lola Kirke, Saffron Burrows, Bernadette Peters, Malcolm McDowell, Gretchen Mol, Jason Schwartzman, Monica Belluci, Wallace Shawn, Dermot Mulroney, John Hodgman.

By Kenny Howell

Mozart in the Jungle is a comedy, but I don't know if I have laughed during the first three seasons. Been quite a few smirks here and there, but that is about it.

Somehow this isn't a terrible thing for the show about an eccentric maestro who conducts the New York City Orchestra. Creators Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, Paul Weitz and Alex Timbers have created a certain tone, one that keeps you drawn in more with pleasant silliness than anything else.

Gael Garcia Bernal (No) plays that kooky conductor named Rodrigo who is hired to lead the orchestra in the first season. He is a bit of wild card and a dangerous hire for the musical institution, who have had the steady hand of Thomas Pimberton, played by Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange), for many years. But Pimberton is stepping down, somewhat reluctantly, and the board wants to take a chance.

It just so happens that Rodrigo hears a young oboe player named Hailey, played by Lola Kirke (Mistress America), performing, and invites her to come sit in with the orchestra. She blows her first rehearsal, but he sees something in her and asks her to be his assistant, which is almost like herding cats since Rodrigo is so off the wall.

Through three seasons, we see the push back against Rodrigo, as well as Hailey trying to find her way into the music world. Rodrigo's appearance throws everything in a tailspin, and the orchestra is forever changed, things which still aren't rectified now through three seasons.

The key to show is the cast, especially Bernal, whose infectious charm keeps you glued. The ensemble doesn't try to do too much, and they all seem to be on board with what the creators wanted. I don't think it will ever be a great show, but it is certainly a good one.

The first three seasons of Mozart in the Jungle are now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Rating: ***

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