ALEX TIMBERS, ROMAN COPPOLA, JASON SCHWARTZMAN — MOZART IN THE JUNGLE — 2014
The episodes are too short for enjoyment. Half an hour does not even enable a rich episode, at best a sitcom like Seinfeld. The episodes then are becoming some sort of big vignettes but the problems the series is dealing with are too big, too important, too serious to be dealt with in big vignettes that are like isolated and separate slices of a sausage you can never reconstitute.
The first idea is that music, in this case, classical music in a world-class philharmonic orchestra, is nothing but the result of people who are dedicated to it up to insanity, and by insanity, I mean total derangement of the mind. They are obsessed and at the same time compelled to do what they do, music and nothing else, and the series insists on the fact the conductor is crazy and creative, but creative because crazy. The boss of the orchestra, the real manager is a divorce-cursed woman who was married four times and is obsessed by sex with kinky people, I mean kinky for her and kinky enough so that she can reject them as soon as she is bored with them. Speaking of female chauvinistic sow, here is one case that is more than dominant, just plain castrating.
Then you have the old oboe player who is a tyrannical woman who is ready to kill anyone who could in anyway challenge her position, and she does not understand this is a sign of incompetence, a Peter’s Principle case. The younger oboe player who just wants to climb to a secure and important position is an opportunist, a social climber who will have sex with anyone provided it gets her there. No stability and she does not understand that this lack of stability is costing her depth and density. And she bets on the retired conductor and becomes the debutante conductor of one of his compositions. She is eaten alive by him during the rehearsals and she is a slave to what he wants her to do and not what she would like to be able maybe perhaps God willing to do.
The cello player and union leader of the orchestra is even more opportunistic than that since she does not care about sexual orientation. She takes what she finds and it does not matter what it is. Of course, then she cannot really get anything through since she is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. And what’s more she has a serious problem with her hands and will have to have surgery and this means there is a fair chance she has reached the end of her career. She pretends to be philosophical about it. Pathetic.
The flute and piccolo player is even worse as a union activist and he cannot have any relation at all with the manager of the orchestra, so he is unable to negotiate a settlement of the conflict they are having, and I say they are having because they could have avoided it from the very start if they had not hired the female union activist or lawyer to help them, though she was more or less chosen because the cello player made her her lover. The practice dictated by the flute and piccolo player of ten minutes pause every half hour or so is just as dumb as my thumb, really. You cannot cut up a rehearsal into slices like that, and I have seen hundreds of rehearsals and never seen that kind of practice.
Then I could go on with the first violinist, or the percussionist. They are pathetic. They end up having a six months or so lockout and a nearly impossible new beginning.
The mayor of New York since we are in New York makes them plant flowers in a public park or in a public square, and that does not help of course. The new conductor, Rodrigo, is nice and funny but he is only nice and funny. He might be able to bring some life into this old orchestra but like some kind of Danse Macabre or at best some carnival of Animals. But to perform the music composed by a French composer after leaving the prison where he spent some time in Rikers Island Prison is maybe the sign of a genius mind somewhere or the sign of a deranged torturing mind somewhere else, but it is bad taste and to describe it as follows, “Bradford Sharp turns his lens on the New York Symphony in this documentary film about the transcendental power of music.” is at least sadistic for the prisoners who are not even mentioned, though the thumbnail picture shows the prison. But we are coming close to the end of Season 3 and Season 4 is not available in my country because of crazy copyright protections.
It is somewhat entertaining but it does not reflect what music really is, what a world-class orchestra really is, what artists in this field really are. It is a fantasized surreal vision of a dystopic musical world for people who just like music as a background noise and who do not know anything about music, musicians and orchestras, even and maybe above all in New York.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU