Society and Culture: Maestro

Movie Review: Maestro

I’m taking a little break from thinking about civil asset forfeiture. I haven’t been able to really get my head around all the data out there detailing how the forfeiture laws and processes are used, or how often, or where. (To paraphrase a social media meme: “We took on the challenge not because we are heroes, but because we thought it would be easier than it is.”) So: more time needed to digest all the data I’ve found.

In the meantime, let’s look at something on the “Culture” side of “Society and Culture”: the movie, “Maestro.”

Maestro is a Netflix film about Leonard Bernstein, directed, co-written, and starring Bradley Cooper. According to Netflix, “Maestro is a towering and fearless love story chronicling the lifelong relationship between Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein. A love letter to life and art, Maestro at its core is an emotionally epic portrayal of family and love.” (Maestro: Release Date, Cast, Trailer and Plot of Bradley Cooper Leonard Bernstein Movie – Netflix Tudum)

Well, yes. It is also a fine, fine film portraying the great American conductor and composer, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) and his—apparently tumultuous—life and career.

Maestro had / is having a limited theatrical release (presumably to qualify it for Oscar nominations). Two of my friends and I had the pleasure of viewing the movie at the newly renovated and reopened (and Netflix-owned) Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

(Here’s a bit of info about the theater reopening: Exclusive: First look inside the restored Egyptian Theatre – Los Angeles Times ( )

The theatre is beautiful. It’s conveniently located near a number of restaurants (we ate at L’antica Pizzeria Da Michele | Hollywood, CA – Since 1870 ( There’s parking in a lot around the corner from the theatre ($20, but still, it’s close.) Easy freeway access, all that stuff that’s important in LA.

I was happy to be able to see—and hear—the movie in a theater, because the music is gorgeous. The film is generous in playing Bernstein’s music—as part of the score and in concert portrayals—and also playing other music Bernstein conducted. I am looking forward to rewatching the film when it opens in streaming form on Netflix on 20 December, though, because I’m hoping that putting on subtitles will tell me what music is being played. I caught some pieces, but certainly not everything. Another reason to have subtitles on: some of the characters have strong accents, including Bernstein himself. I’m not from New York or the US East Coast and some of what they were saying eluded me. And did they have to mumble at times? The sound editing was so great for the music, why was it so deficient for the dialog?

I’m mostly looking forward to watching the film again because it is just so lovely. The acting is impeccable. Cooper inhabits Bernstein as he conducts, and as he lives his complex and tumultuous life. The movie spans decades from 1943 (his conducting debut) through to just past his wife’s death in 1978. It is spare, but not sparing and I felt the richness and complexity of his life—and of the lives of those around him.

If you have the opportunity to view Maestro in a theater, I suggest you consider doing so. If not, let’s watch it together after it starts streaming on Netflix on 20 December.

Leave a Comment