Friday, December 11, 2015

A Very Murray Christmas

Directed by Sofia Coppola and written by Coppola, Bill Murray, and Mitch Glazer, A Very Murray Christmas is a musical comedy where Bill Murray hosts a Christmas special at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City as a deadly snowstorm arrives where he wonders if anyone will show up. With Murray as himself, the special is an offbeat yet lively take on the world of variety specials that is about the holidays and Murray himself. Also starring George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Paul Shaffer, Maya Rudolph, Michael Cera, David Johansen, Chris Rock, Jason Schwartzman, Jenny Lewis, Rashida Jones, Dmitri Dmitrov, Julie White, and the band Phoenix. The result is a fun and heartwarming TV special from Sofia Coppola.

It’s Christmas Eve at New York City’s Carlyle Hotel where Bill Murray is hosting a live Christmas special as the city has been hit by a snowstorm where none of the guests he wanted to have including George Clooney have arrived. Thus, the day becomes a nightmare where Murray goes into a full meltdown where he desperately tries to save his TV special while drowning his sorrows at the bar with friend and music director Paul Shaffer. Along the way, a lot of hilarity and singing ensue with those working at the bar and a few guests saddened by the snowstorm. It’s a simple story where Murray just tries to get into the Xmas spirit while dealing with talent agents, producers, and all sorts of people trying to kiss his ass. Still, there is a lot that happens where Murray and whoever is around him play songs whether it’s traditional or contemporary Xmas songs and songs that don’t fit into that mold.

Sofia Coppola’s direction is quite intimate but also gorgeous for the way she presents the rooms and bar at the Carlyle Hotel which is a character in the special. With the aid of cinematographer John Tanzer and production designer Anne Ross, Coppola ensures the low-key look of the hotel as well as provide a sense of whimsical comedy in Murray’s attempt to stage this TV special. Coppola’s usage of close-ups and medium shots maintain that sense of intimacy while many of the musical moments are either improvised or planned. With the aid of music director Paul Shaffer, the songs that are sung range from traditional songs and holiday standards along with contemporary songs that are either for the holidays or a song like Todd Rundgren’s I Saw the Light. With the aid of sound editor Max Green, the sound of noises in the kitchen and bar helps with the atmosphere as well as Sarah Flack’s editing where it is straightforward to play into what is happening.

The musical numbers that are improvisational do give the special a very lively feel where it has this sense of not knowing what is going to happen while it does have an air of fantasy where the look of it is brighter and colorful thanks to Tanzer’s stylish lighting, Flack’s upbeat editing, the art direction, and Stacey Battat’s playful costume design. It adds to what Murray would’ve wanted in his Xmas special as it sort of mocks the idea of the variety show but also have some fun with it. Even as it is all about celebrating Christmas with friends and colleagues despite all of the chaos that occurs.

The special’s cast include appearances from Dimitri Dimitrov as Murray’s assistant, Jenny Lewis as a singing waitress, the French-indie band Phoenix as chefs, David Johansen as the bartender, Maya Rudolph as the lounge singer, Amy Poehler and Julie White as Murray’s producers of the special, Jason Schwartzman and Rashida Jones as an engaged couple that were supposed to be married at the hotel, and Michael Cera as a talent agent who is desperate to have Murray as his client.

As themselves, George Clooney, Chris Rock, Miley Cyrus, and Paul Shaffer all bring their own sense of charm to their appearances with Clooney providing some nice vocals on Santa Claus Want Some Lovin’ while Rock plays a reluctant player in Murray’s attempt to revive his TV special. Finally, there’s Bill Murray who brings a very diva-esque approach to himself as someone that is just losing it over the failure of his show where he tries to get himself in the Xmas spirit where it’s Murray sort of making fun of himself and his persona while being so fun to watch.

A Very Murray Christmas is a phenomenal TV special from Sofia Coppola that is about the brilliance that is Bill Murray. Fans of the actor will no doubt get a chance to see the man making fun of himself while trying to put on a fun Xmas special that manages to be entertaining and more. In the end, A Very Murray Christmas is a sensational TV special from Sofia Coppola.

Sofia Coppola Films: Lick the Star - The Virgin Suicides - Lost in Translation - Marie Antoinette - Somewhere - The Bling Ring - The Beguiled (2017 film) - On the Rocks - Priscilla (2023 film)

Sofia Coppola Soundtracks: Air-The Virgin Suicides OST - The Virgin Suicides OST - Lost in Translation OST - Marie Antoinette OST - (The Bling Ring OST) - (Priscilla OST)

Related: The Ads & Videos 1993-2008 - The Auteurs #1: Sofia Coppola - Favorite Films #1: Lost in Translation - Favorite Films #4: Somewhere - 10 Reasons Why Lost in Translation is the Best Film Ever...

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