[Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  arina on 4/24/2012, 4:52 pm


my Struck By Lightning review!

I apologize for the HUGE length of this, but I saw it tonight and have lots and lots of thoughts on it :D (a lot of which have been expressed in other reviews too, but I hope I at least added a little bit of something new to them?)

Also, while it’s kind of hard to spoil the movie too much since most of it is pretty laid right out there, there are a few parts that might get on the spoilery side depending on how much you want to know going in, so if you really don’t want to know much… proceed with caution! (but I don’t think there’s anything super specific)


So without further ado:
MY REVIEW

I guess a good place to start would probably be working off the impression one might get from the trailer, since the trailer does kind of sell the movie as a Juno-esque, quirky comedy type deal. But the more I think about it, the more I’m not quite so sure I like that comparison for it (and I liked Juno a lot, for the record). But the thing is, while the humor might be similarly snarky/quirky at times, I don’t feel like someone who didn’t like Juno (or other quirky indie comedies like it) would necessarily not like this movie. Because in Juno, I felt like the snarky humor was pointedly meant to be endearing. The characters were weird, but in a way that was intended to be loveable and charming. With Struck By Lightning, I didn’t get that at all. On the contrary, pretty much all the characters in Struck By Lightning have some serious, serious issues, and especially with Carson, he’s snarky but it’s a hardened snark. It’s a snark that comes from being really, really fed up with the world he’s forced to live in, and feeling so trapped.

So ultimately, although there are many laugh out loud moments, I feel like this movie is really tragic in a way that I don’t think any other teen comedy (indie or otherwise) that I can think of is. Which obviously is helped by the fact that Carson dies (which isn’t a spoiler because it’s literally the first thing you see happen), but it’s not even that alone, not by any stretch. I don’t want to risk giving away spoilers, but just… when Chris was talking about how Carson has no support system at all? It’s absolutely true. To a really heartbreaking extent. And yet, somehow in all of that it’s also inspiring. In a bittersweet, he friggin died before he could ever break out of this life that was suffocating him way, but… ultimately what makes you so invested in Carson despite the fact that he’s pretty obnoxious and kind of a jerk, is that here’s this kid who has NO support system, has no one encouraging him to keep going (in fact many people in his life are actively telling him to get his head out of the clouds so to speak, and trying to convince him it’s ridiculous to think he could actually achieve what he’s set out on achieving), yet he’s still so headstrong and determined to keep going.

Which brings me to my next point: The fact that that is what the movie is about… and I know a lot of other reviews have noted this too, but it really is true how refreshing that is as opposed to it being about romance or the social aspects of high school or anything like that. I mean obviously Carson is a social outcast at his school, so there’s note of the social in that respect, but it’s almost quite opposite from so many teen movies because the entire story pretty much serves to make the point that high school is only four years of your life, and Carson’s social status is only important because it’s a major road block to his being able to go after what he wants for beyond that (to get into Northwestern and make something of his life).

But beyond that… he does not give a flying flip what people think of him, and not in that “I’m cute and endearing in my quirkiness so people like me even though I’m odd” kind of way. In a very honest “I’ve got far bigger and better things to be focusing on than what these people who I might not ever see again after this year think of me” way. And while that might seem like a bit of a common coming of age trope in its own way, Chris’s take on it just feels very new to me. Maybe because he sets up so well that this is a kid who really doesn’t have any support- who hasn’t adopted this mindset because anyone else has sat him down and given him a lesson/talk about it. He’s adopted it as his way of surviving when he has nothing else to turn to but his own faith that his dreams and ambitions aren’t for nothing.

So ultimately, to me this movie doesn’t feel like some heartwarming little quirky indie teen flick. It’s funny- very funny at times!- but there’s so much more substance there than I feel like there is with most movies in this genre. And I admit I’m a sucker for a good teen comedy anyway, but Struck By Lightning just feels… real. That’s the only way I can think to describe it. There’s a rawness and a darkness to it, and yet not in a way that just leaves you depressed. Somehow, despite how depressing the individual parts are, at the end of the day.. well, Chris summed it up really well I think: it’s about appreciating the journey. It’s about realizing that there’s power in just having dreams and ambitions. That sure, it’s awesome if you get there too, but even if you never do like Carson never did, those dreams aren’t meaningless. In his case, they’re what got him through his life.

With that said, I’ll concede that there were probably some points where it got a little heavy handed with the above message- probably one of the few things about the movie that I might say could have been improved. But at the same time it’s a message I really don’t think I’ve heard much coming out of this kind of movie, so even if it was on the heavy handed side it wasn’t anything I was turned off by if only for the fact that it’s something I think isn’t heard enough, especially in the coming of age context.

One other thing I’ll mention: I know some of the other reviews have noted that the other student characters remain pretty one-dimensional even in the end. And it’s true, they do. Although I have trouble even really labeling this as a flaw at all, because I actually feel like it works really well to further the point Chris is trying to make with the movie: that these kids are stereotypes because they feel like they have to be. The bitchy cheerleader isn’t just the bitchy cheerleader because she’s naturally like that, but because she’s been convinced by the world around her that it’s not worth aiming for anything higher, and if being the queen bee in high school is the best she’s going to get out of life, why not play into that role? So yeah, while the kid characters do indeed remain fairly one dimensional, I don’t think I would call it a detriment. I think Chris kept it that way intentionally, and I think it helps make the point. Carson didn’t really need to know who those kids really were for it to be obvious that they were stereotypes because they let themselves be stereotypes.

Okay, now with the script aspect of it out of the way, on to the other stuff!

ACTING:
I’ll just say right upfront that seeing this only reinforced my feeling more than ever than anyone who thinks Chris can’t act or “could only ever play flamboyant gay” is dead wrong. Dead. Wrong. Because he acted the friggin heck out of this role! And there is literally not a single hint of Kurt Hummel in there. Of Chris himself, yeah, probably, but not Kurt. And I think this could not have been a more perfect role for him coming off Glee, because it completely proves that he doesn’t even need to go 100% the opposite direction in order to effectively come across as a completely and utterly different person. He’s not trying to be some super macho dude, heck, he’s not even doing another very over the top character but in a super different way. It’s a very similar environment to Glee, in fact, and it even does have a lot of the early Glee feel. And yet Carson is just a totally different person from Kurt. In no obvious “look at me I’m being NOT Kurt Hummel!” way, but just his mannerisms, facial expressions, voice, everything. You can pretty much tell that from the trailer, but yeah. It’s even more obvious when you see the film as a whole

The entire cast was really, really fantastic though. Allison Janney especially, and Christina Hendrix, and Rebel Wilson was adorable. Just everyone was perfect in their roles.

What elseee? In terms of the technical aspects of the movie, it was all pretty simplistic- it was definitely the script and performances that drove the movie- but the technical stuff wasn’t bad I don’t think. It’s just not a movie that’s all about being visually awe-worthy. It’s about the story. And I actually kind of appreciate that, considering how many movies these days are so all about the special effects and the stories themselves are meh and generic

I’m really trying to find some more things I felt like could have been improved on, but honestly I can’t really think of any! haha. The movie really did almost surpass my expectations. Which isn’t to say it’s the greatest movie ever made or anything, but for what it is? I truly do feel like it’s unique and refreshing and any small faults it may have are far outweighed by the fact that it’s just a really damn good movie that stays with you.

And I’m just so freaking impressed that Chris wrote a movie THAT good when he was like 19 and 20 years old! Now more than ever, I stand by my feeling that he is going to be a major force to be reckoned with in Hollywood in the coming years. Not just for the fact that he’s a straight up good writer, but for the fact that with both this and the sounds of his next movie, he seems so genuinely creative and like he won’t be churning out things that are just more of the same old same old.
Sourcehttp://snl89.tumblr.com/post/21705148054/my-struck-by-lightning-review
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  brisallie on 4/24/2012, 7:34 pm

fantastica wrote:honest this movie is not everybody's cup of tea. if he didn't produce it independantly it will not be produced by big studios, because it lacks a certain essential element that attracts mass audience:
- it does NOT have a romantic subplot! look back at every single block buster movie and the majority of them, if not at all, have a romantic subplot. if chris submitted his script to a big studio and they produced it, it would be rewritten like crazy and I am sure there will be romance involved.

...

To have a romantic subplot is THAT important for a film if want to be target a mass audience? I won't deny I missed the romantic plot in the movie, I think there're in two of the characters but people wanted to see the lead role having a romance or a crush but we know here's not happening that and Chris himself explained indirectly why. Still I'm happy that he didn't submit his script to a big studio because I can't even imagine the changes they would had done dryy

Going back to the negative review, I was aware that until now everything had been so positive or less positive but always in a good mood that I feel like I was living a paradise as a colferite seeing that apparently everybody was loving SBL and suddenly this review came out and I went back to reality realizing that you can't pleasure everyone, but that not affect me because I tend to create my our opinion, however still hoping the average is gonna be a B or B+ neutre

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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  fantastica on 4/24/2012, 8:04 pm

if you look at the majority of movies made most don't even get to a B or B+ rating. there are plenty of bad movies out there. this is a very decent movie not yet at Oscar level but a great first time effort. mind you I do NOT like some of hte oscar winning movies at all. I think some of them dont deserve the award, and some non-winning films are a lot better, but my opinions are my own. Smile
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  paulopf on 4/24/2012, 8:06 pm

Titanic surely didn't deserve a "best picture" Oscar.
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  sahhar on 4/24/2012, 8:13 pm

paulopf wrote:Titanic surely didn't deserve a "best picture" Oscar.

Neither did The King's Speech. Inception deserved it that year. This is all just my personal opinion though *shrugs*

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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  fantastica on 4/24/2012, 8:17 pm

I personally like Inception a lot more than Kings Speech. but Kings Speech is the type that gather awards - you know, the serious drama based in historical events. the movie is rather boring. It's well acted but lacked entertainment value.

I do love the Titanic though. I thought it was way over-rated but i was surprised how entertaining the movie was. I gave a huge plus to the score/music. it really carry the mood of that film. ok I will stop here because we are getting OT. sorry. should move to movie thread instead.
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  sahhar on 4/24/2012, 8:18 pm

fantastica wrote:I personally like Inception a lot more than Kings Speech. but Kings Speech is the type that gather awards - you know, the serious drama based in historical events. the movie is rather boring. It's well acted but lacked entertainment value.

I do love the Titanic though. I thought it was way over-rated but i was surprised how entertaining the movie was. I gave a huge plus to the score/music. it really carry the mood of that film. ok I will stop here because we are getting OT. sorry. should move to movie thread instead.

I agree. Haha, yeah we're all getting a bit off topic here. I have to sign off soon though, I really hope tonight's episode doesn't disappoint us Chris/Kurt fans. Hoping for the best.

This has been a great week for all of us with all the Struck By Lightning news!. I hope they announce a distributor and release date soon!

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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  fantastica on 4/24/2012, 8:19 pm

c u at the episode discussion thread!
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  paulopf on 4/24/2012, 8:26 pm

fantastica wrote:I personally like Inception a lot more than Kings Speech. but Kings Speech is the type that gather awards - you know, the serious drama based in historical events. the movie is rather boring. It's well acted but lacked entertainment value.

I do love the Titanic though. I thought it was way over-rated but i was surprised how entertaining the movie was. I gave a huge plus to the score/music. it really carry the mood of that film. ok I will stop here because we are getting OT. sorry. should move to movie thread instead.

Perhaps it's because I never saw Titanic on the big screeen (and I'm definitely not planning to see it on the 3D version now), but it bored me to tears and we could only finished it thanks to a popcorn battle. The King's Speech I enjoyed. Inception was super fun, though not my fave Nolan's movie And, yeah, lol. You're right about the O/T thing. Sorry. Wow. It's hard to avoid this situation, right?
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  fantastica on 4/24/2012, 8:29 pm

^ you see everybody's opinions are very different. I wouldn't be shocked if someone don't like SBL - apparently someone didn't. there will be more when the movie is in wide release.

oh, that 500 days of summer movie - I went to see it because Lea said it was great - I felt asleep half way. nuff said.
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  paulopf on 4/24/2012, 8:31 pm

fantastica wrote:^ you see everybody's opinions are very different. I wouldn't be shocked if someone don't like SBL - apparently someone didn't. there will be more when the movie is in wide release.

oh, that 500 days of summer movie - I went to see it because Lea said it was great - I felt asleep half way. nuff said.

People who don't like Struck By Lightning are wrong. I haven't seen it yet, but I like it already. Nuff said. :angry:
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  fantastica on 4/24/2012, 8:33 pm

^ Razz

p.s. I didn't bother to watch titanic 3D. I love the movie the first time, but I have no appetite to watch it twice.
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  sahhar on 4/24/2012, 8:34 pm

3D movies make no sense to me. Waste of money in my opinion. I'd rather watch them old school, in 2-D, but eh, to each his own.

I promise I'm done now baibai

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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  fantastica on 4/24/2012, 8:39 pm

^ you don't get. I don't want you to be done! Smile love to see you around here!
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  arina on 4/26/2012, 2:09 am

Hollywood reporter review


Struck by Lightning: Tribeca Review

”Glee’s” Chris Colfer wrote and stars in this teen comedy about a high school misfit.

Chris Colfer of “Glee” stays in familiar territory with his screenwriting debut, which basically plays like an extended episode of that hit show minus the musical interludes. The tale of a high school misfit who’s clearly smarter than everyone else in the room and is sure to let everyone know it, Struck by Lightning strains hard for quirky social satire but proves mostly wearisome. It will take smart marketing and a big turnout by Colfer’s die-hard fans to lift this film directed by Brian Dannelly (Saved), now receiving its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, above niche status.

It’s no spoiler to reveal that Colfer’s character winds up dead, since his fate—specified by the literal title—is revealed at the very beginning. Like William Holden’s similarly ill-fated Joe Gillisin Sunset Boulevard, he proceeds to narrate the tale, told in flashback.

Seventeen-year-old Carson Phillips (Colfer), who aspires to both a prestigious journalism career at the New Yorker and winning the Nobel Peace Prize, faces some serious obstacles. Growing up in a small town with his prescription drug and booze addicted single mom (Allison Janney), he’s surrounded by shallow high school classmates and clueless adults, including a guidance counselor who’s never heard of Northwestern University.

Through plot machinations to convoluted to recount, Carson becomes convinced that his only path to that prestigious school is by starting a literary magazine featuring contributions from his fellow students. To get these stereotypical figures—the school jock, the snooty cheerleader (Sarah Hyland of “Modern Family”), the closeted gay couple, etc.—to cooperate, he and his best friend (a funny Rebel Wilson) threaten to reveal their secrets.

Ironically, the actor/screenwriter is on surer ground with his handling of the adult characters. The bitter mom—whose idea of nurturing is to tell her son, “You make me wish I had that abortion in the ‘90s”—is alternately hilarious and pathetic. Carson’s oblivious father (Dermot Mulroney) is in a new relationship with a sweet pharmacist (Christina Hendricks) who’s pregnant with his child but completely unaware of his past. And his aged, Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandmother (Polly Bergen) is unable to recognize him when he visits.

Unfortunately, most of the film revolves around Carson, whose condescending wisecracks and endless pop culture references make him less precocious than thoroughly obnoxious. When he dies at the end, it feels less like a tragedy of unfulfilled potential than a mercy killing.

Straining for cheap laughs with such lines as “I hate you more than I hate the Holocaust,” the film feels much longer than its 90 minutes.

While Colfer displays far less charisma here than he does on “Glee”, the supporting adult actors pick up much of the slack. Janney is particularly superb, providing real depths to what could have been a stock character; Mulroney and Bergen bring a touching poignancy to their roles; and an understated Hendricks is deeply movin
sourcehttp://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/chris-colfer-struck-by-lightning-tribeca-review-316617
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  emilynna on 4/26/2012, 2:17 am

arina wrote:Hollywood reporter review
While Colfer displays far less charisma here than he does on “Glee”, the supporting adult actors pick up much of the slack. Janney is particularly superb, providing real depths to what could have been a stock character; Mulroney and Bergen bring a touching poignancy to their roles; and an understated Hendricks is deeply movin

sourcehttp://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/chris-colfer-struck-by-lightning-tribeca-review-316617

i really cant understand this. how is he going to display charisma when carson is not likeable?
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  fantastica on 4/26/2012, 2:32 am

this author is the totally the wrong person to watch this movie. he/she has a very different mindset than the people this movie intends to talk to.

this movie is refreshing because it's quite different in many ways. it doesn't follow specific formulas. you can call it "quirky" or "niche" or whatever, but that's why it appeals to me, and that's why I much prefer foreign movies to usual hollywood crap, and that's why i don't watch many movies or tv shows. and that's why I am a chris colfer fan, and not a fan of tom cruise.
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  arina on 4/26/2012, 3:01 am

Another review:

I was struck by how fast things happen in Brian Dannelly’s idiosyncratic STRUCK BY LIGHTNING. Much like Christina Hendricks’ (Mad Men) character April Adams, a pharmacist and six months pregnant, we are thrown into the small fictional California town of Clover where linear time and relationships play by their own rules.

Written by Glee star Chris Colfer, who came up with the concept of the movie when he was a high school student and wanted to “vent about frustrations,” STRUCK BY LIGHTNING finds its place in the tradition of American high school comedies. The fact that the script was written by a 21 year old shows in different ways.


Director Brian Dannelly. Picture by Anne-Katrin Titze.


Writer, actor Chris Colfer. Picture by Anne-Katrin Titze.

There is a carefreeness about a number of subjects not often explored in the genre: Grandma (Polly Bergen, who called Colfer “an old man in a young body”) has Alzheimers; Mom, a courageous Allison Janney, an alcohol and pill addiction; the protagonist’s death by lightning happens less than two minutes into the film. All of this is treated lightly, from the perspective of someone who cannot imagine ever having to die.

In flashback, we learn about high school archetypes and how Carson (Chris Colfer) wants to escape the confines of the small world he happened to have been born into by becoming a writer.

Brian Dannelly directed STRUCK BY LIGHTNING to explore “what it means to be human”, and high school is always a good place to look for that. “It’s important to have actors who can improvise,” he told me about his quest for authenticity at a Tribeca roundtable. “A lot of trickery” is his secret weapon, an attitude mirrored by production designer Linda Burton, who explained to me how they transformed a science classroom into the pharmacy of the movie, and another classroom into the funeral parlor.

Some of the dialogue could be more polished, but the brutal honesty of having a mother tell her son as an aside that she drugged his food when he was little, to stop him from being so annoying makes up for it.

The biggest plus for authenticity in STRUCK BY LIGHTENING goes to costume designer Wendy Chuck, who manages, once again, just as she does in all her work with Alexander Payne (see Set Dressing about George Clooney in THE DESCENDANTS, click here), to speak volumes about characters by way of the clothes they wear.


Costume Designer Wendy Chuck, left, and Anne-Katrin Titze. Picture by Linda Burton.
Over lunch, Wendy and I talked about how fearless Allison Janney is embracing even the truly ugly skirt and ruffled blouse Wendy selected for her character as the drunken mother, who has given up on her life and is well on her way to ruin her son’s. Dermot Mulroney, who plays Carson’s father and fiance to lovely, pastel clad Christina Hendrick’s April, dresses like a man who has fallen out of time.

A beige cotton windbreaker is a little too short and proper, Yehova’s witness-style, the tie he wears it with, is too wide, the burgundy polo shirt in another scene too shiny. The proportions are off, and so is his behavior.

Not to be forgotten is young Australian actress Rebel Wilson as Malerie, Carson’s best friend, who films everything she sees to “soak up the present” and pretends the opening lines of famous novels are her own(“Call me Isabel”).

Plus-size, persistent, and not a cliché, in some of her scenes she destabilizes her surroundings in a gutsy way.

I asked Chris Colfer, whose next project will have him play a patient in a 1930s asylum, if he sees a kinship between his character Carson, dressed exclusively in colors of the sky, and Veda, the daughter in MILDRED PIERCE, who wants to escape her family background and can be equally full of herself.

He deadpanned with only a moment’s hesitation: “Yes, but my character doesn’t go to bed with his mother’s lover.”

FIN
Sourcehttp://hunterword.com/articles/1632
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  Glorfindel on 4/26/2012, 6:48 am

arina wrote:Another review:
I asked Chris Colfer, whose next project will have him play a patient in a 1930s asylum, if he sees a kinship between his character Carson, dressed exclusively in colors of the sky, and Veda, the daughter in MILDRED PIERCE, who wants to escape her family background and can be equally full of herself.

He deadpanned with only a moment’s hesitation: “Yes, but my character doesn’t go to bed with his mother’s lover.”
Sourcehttp://hunterword.com/articles/1632
Gosh, what other 21 year old would have known this right away and responded with that? ohmy wub


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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  brisallie on 4/26/2012, 12:21 pm

Glorfindel wrote:
arina wrote:Another review:
I asked Chris Colfer, whose next project will have him play a patient in a 1930s asylum, if he sees a kinship between his character Carson, dressed exclusively in colors of the sky, and Veda, the daughter in MILDRED PIERCE, who wants to escape her family background and can be equally full of herself.

He deadpanned with only a moment’s hesitation: “Yes, but my character doesn’t go to bed with his mother’s lover.”
Sourcehttp://hunterword.com/articles/1632
Gosh, what other 21 year old would have known this right away and responded with that? ohmy wub


ohmy Razz Love that answer because despite I haven't seen SBL yet, through the reviews I don't see similarities between him and Veda besides escape from her current life, but I'm sorry Veda is a social climber.

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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  Emile on 4/26/2012, 4:39 pm

Struck By Lightning
The ‘high school misfit against the world’ concept has been mined in the movie world many times before, but that doesn’t stop Glee star Chris Colfer’s scripting debut (he also stars) offer up plenty of smart and quirky moments as is heads into familiar territory.

But oddly enough, though its main comedy target is high school satire, where it succeeds best is when dealing with the adults, and in particular is driven by terrific performances by Alison Janey, Christina Hendricks and Dermot Mulroney. The film, which had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, could well appeal to Glee fans though distributors of indie drama should also take a look.

The film – and this isn’t giving too much away as it barely impacts on the actual story – begin with the death (the struck by lightning of the title) of 17 year-old Carson Phillips (Colfer), who then narrates a look back at his troubled high school life.

He is editor of the school newspaper (in fact he is the only one who writes for it), but is despised and largely ignored by his schoolmates and only has one best friend, the engagingly plump Malerie Baggs (played with a good deal of quirky charm by Australian actress Rebel Wilson, who featured in Bridesmaids) who videos everything in her rather dull life.

Home life is little better for Carson. He lives with his single mother (Alison Janey), whose life is based around booze and prescription drugs since his father Neal (Dermot Mulroney left them. Her life is thrown up in the air when dad arrives back in town, along with his pregnant girlfriend, pharmacist April (Christina Hendricks).

In a rather simplistic plot device, Carson ends up blackmailing a group of influential fellow students (top jock, head cheerleader, prom queen, drama head and wealthiest guy) into helping him start a school literary magazine in the hope that its success would help him get into the college of his dreams.

Directed fluently by Brian Dannelly (Saved), the script has its origins from schooldays when 16 year-old Colfer wrote about characters in his junior year at school that he turned into a 10-minute Original Prose and Poetry (OPP) piece for a Speech and Debate event where he played all of the characters.

Colfer plays his character much lower key than his performance in Glee, but while there are a few standout comedy lines never really gets enough comedy from the clichéd high school characters (we also have a bombastic headmaster, inept school advisor and sex-mad sports coach). But it is a different matter when it comes to the adults, who play their roles for pathos rather than pure comedy.

Alison Janey is wonderful as his sarcastic, boozy, seemingly unemotional mother, and the scenes she has with the equally fine Christina (Mad Men) Hendricks as her former husband’s new partner are the high points in the film.

| 26, April, X

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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  fantastica on 4/26/2012, 8:58 pm

Chris Colfer Managed To Not Play Kurt Hummel In His Film Debut Struck By Lightning

The most common question I’ve gotten after seeing Chris Colfer‘s first feature film Struck By Lightning is, “So he just played Kurt, right?” Chris has garnered such acclaim playing Glee‘s revered gay protagonist that it makes sense that he would want to stick with similarly precious roles as he’s slowly transitioning from Glee to other projects. But it turns out that Chris first dreamed up this screenplay when he was 16, three years before Glee hit the air. According to the press notes, he originally wrote a ten-minute piece where he performed every character; after the piece won awards at a Speech and Debate event, he expanded it into a 90-minute film and gave himself the lead.

Carson Phillips is a smart, talented, driven high school senior with ambitious dreams of escaping his humdrum, limited life at Clover High School and being editor of The New Yorker. To realize this dream, he has a concrete set of goals: Be editor of the school newspaper. (Check.) Become president of the Writers’ Club. (Check.) Get into Northwestern. (You’re going to need to start a literary magazine. And you’re going to need the popular kids to contribute so people will actually buy it.) His solution? Blackmail the popular kids into joining his lit mag.

From the summary I’ve given you, it’s crystal-clear that Carson Phillips is not Kurt Hummel. Kurt is a delicate, misunderstood creature suffering emotional and physical abuse by the school hierarchy for his sexuality and outlandish style. There’s a reason that Sue Sylvester calls him Porcelain, after all. Carson is also suffering at the hands of students too obsessed with prom — and administrators too burnt-out to care — but unlike Kurt, he has a backbone. He’s who Kurt is only now transforming into after three seasons of Glee; we could see that strength in the first five minutes, right as he gets struck by lightning.

Oh, yes: The movie starts and ends with Carson’s unfortunate freak accident and death. Through it all, Carson narrates the events leading up to his death day, making us understand just how shitty and hopeless everything was and how the lit mag brought a ray of sunshine into his life. (I will also commend Chris for not overdoing it on the weather metaphors.) This countdown keeps the action nicely self-contained, telling a hopeful story that never dips into unrealistic parable.

One of the smartest things that Chris did was to not make Struck By Lightning a discussion of Carson’s sexuality. At all. Yes, I had the sneaking suspicion that he’s gay, because in many ways I associated this character with Chris Colfer himself. But honestly, it’s ambiguous. There’s a scene where Carson confronts two closeted students and says, “Yes, I know something about being an outcast.” You get the sense that he’s talking more about his artist impulses that are consistently squashed by this school, not which sex he’d rather make out with. Carson doesn’t have a love interest of either sex, though Rebel Wilson gives a touching performance as the offbeat Malerie, who becomes his best friend.

When it comes to the other high schoolers, the actors are definitely pigeonholed. However, this restrictive casting actually acts as a shorthand establishing which clichés each represents, before revealing their hard-kept secrets for which Carson blackmails them. Carter Jenkins brings his pout to the popular guy; Awkward‘s Ashley Rickards goes goth but is just as rebellious as in past roles; Robbie Amell is your typical meathead. Having gotten into Modern Family recently, I was especially intrigued by Sarah Hyland‘s nuanced representation of the squeaky clean queen bee/head cheerleader. There’s a scene between her and Carson where she alludes to her own personal problems, but unfortunately we never get to hear what’s actually plaguing her.

A common trope of teen films and television shows is Small Town Boredom (as defined by TV Tropes), or the utter terror that you’ll never escape your constraining hometown and make something of yourself. The Glee kids definitely worry over this, especially since they’re not cut out of the same mold as other Lima citizens. But for all the drama, the deserving artsy kids make it out to a better life. Not so for Carson. From the beginning, we know that he’s not even going to make it to graduation.

That sarcastic, unapologetic angst extends to the adults in the film. Allison Janney is superb as Carson’s negligent, self-involved alcoholic mother Sheryl, who simultaneously informs her son that she had him only to save her marriage to his father (Dermot Mulroney, who left anyway) but also manipulates Carson to stay home and take care of her. There’s a powerful scene where Sheryl approaches her ex’s new fiancé (Christina Hendricks playing unusually guileless but still strong) and informs her, “You may think, This woman is pathetic. But I used to be you.”

Struck By Lightning is still a feel-good movie, because it reminds us to stop wallowing in what we think are bad circumstances and focus on what we’re lucky to have. But the lesson — which Kurt Hummel could do to learn — is that no one is going to help you to your feet. The only deux ex machina in this movie is simple chance that fucks with people’s lives.

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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  tanita_mors on 4/27/2012, 2:06 pm

Review: "Struck By Lightning" Lets Chris Colfer Shine in Stormy Weather

Not many teen comedies bother trying to take an honest look at the real and sometimes insurmountable obstacles faced by even the best and brightest during the tumultuous high school years.

Then again, not many teen comedies begin by killing their main character off in the first 90 seconds.

Struck By Lightning, directed by Brian Dannelly and written by and starring Glee star Chris Colfer, isn't your typical teen movie. It isn't even your atypical teen movie – you know, the anti-establishment screeds spawned by the brilliant (and possibly even dangerous) Heathers that made the '90s a renaissance of outsider teen entertainment. But while everything from The Craft to Drive Me Crazy to Never Been Kissed delighted in subverting the high school power structure, very few of those films tried to actually accomplish anything within it.

In Lightning, Colfer plays Carson Phillips, a smart and ambitious teen whose only life goals are to become the editor of The New Yorker, be the youngest person to be published by The New York Times, and win the Nobel Peace Prize and Pulitzer Prize for journalism (and I may be leaving out a few). But first, he must get out of his podunk hometown of Clover, which for him means getting accepted into Northwestern University. If you haven't noticed, Carson knows what he wants – and as we soon learn, he isn't afraid to break a few eggs to get to the New Yorker cafeteria's omelet bar.

Upon the advice of his professionally inept career counselor (Angela Kinsey, at her most delightfully batty), Carson decides to start a literary magazine at his school – despite the fact that the newspaper (which he also runs) is a total failure. When he can't get anyone to submit to the magazine, Carson decides to force his classmates into contributing to his dream by blackmailing them with their dirty secrets, which he uncovers with the help of his only friend, a camera-happy loser and failed writer named Malerie (Bridesmaids' awesome Rebel Wilson). Among his targets are a philandering cheerleader (Modern Family's Sarah Hyland), a prissy know-it-all with a dirty side (Suburgatory's amazing Allie Grant), and a few closeted gay guys ... well, one's the president of Drama Club, so his closet is probably filled with tulle – but his down low BF isn't ready to come out yet.

So sure, Struck by Lightning may share the same basic setup as plenty of other teen flicks where an outsider uses the hypocrisy of the school's ruling class against them. But while the thrill of these setups usually comes from the outsider's pleasure in watching the high-functioning kids squirm when they're revealed to be less-than-perfect, in this case their tormenter really just wants to get into college. Carson isn't a moralist, he's an opportunist – but when his scheme has the unintended effect of actually getting some of his classmates to think more deeply about their goals and ambitions, he welcomes the chance to try and change things for the better for everyone.

As the film's rather unlikable central character, Colfer is great – he's still playing a pithy, super-smart kid in the Kurt Hummel mold, but Carson is far more jaded and less prone to throwing glitter on his problems. Carson is prickly, uncompromising, and sometimes downright mean, which is fascinating to watch – every move he makes has an undercurrent of barely-concealed rage. It's actually surprising that his character didn't explode on his own before the lightning got to him.

Applying the lion's share of the pressure on Carson is his mother, a painfully sad woman who has resigned herself to a lonely life as a single loser propped up by pills and booze. Allison Janney is wonderful in the role – the weight of her decision to give up on her own life hangs on her like an albatross, especially when it begins to come clear just how much her decisions have affected her only son. Carson is also deeply troubled by the gradual loss of his grandmother (Polly Bergen) to Alzheimer's, which renders her unable to recognize her grandson. His absentee father (Dermot Mulroney) is also back in Carson's life after his attempts to marry his new, pregnant fiancee (Christina Hendricks) hit a snag because he never got officially divorced.

If this all sounds a bit bleak, that's because it kind of is. But thanks to Colfer's witty dialog and Dannelly's proven ability to balance tough dramatic themes with unexpected humor (something he did brilliantly in Saved!), it feels lighter than the sum of its weighty parts. Frequently very funny, Struck By Lightning is more or less a comedy – but like Carson's ambition, it comes from a place of rage: Colfer reportedly wrote the skeleton of the story as a means of letting off steam in high school, where he felt misunderstood by his lazy and unambitious classmates. That frustration is clearly communicated in the finished product, which is actually fairly dark for a teen comedy that doesn't end with someone blowing up the school.

It's also interesting to note that while the dirt he uses to entrap his classmates and teachers is primarily sexy-time in nature, Carson himself is presented as completely asexual – he's never identified as either gay or straight, and is defined almost entirely by his ambitions. He's also an equal opportunity extortionist, using indiscretions of all orientations to blackmail his classmates. Considering that Colfer's Glee character has been primarily identified by his sexuality from the get-go, it's an interesting contrast (and possibly one that was deliberately designed). And of course Colfer is openly gay in real life as well – a choice he made early in his career despite the resounding echo of Hollywood wisdom that audiences won't accept openly gay actors in straight roles. Is the world ready to see Colfer as a straight romantic lead? No idea. But maybe this movie demonstrates that they don't need to be. (If you asked Carson, he'd probably tell you that romance is overrated anyway.)

I realize I'm focusing a bit on Lightning's more serious elements here, because I do think the film sets itself apart from much teen fare by tackling some weighty issues without the safety net of irony or sarcasm. But it really is very funny, featuring crisp, smart dialog and moments of inspired physical comedy (not to mention the monumentally awkward Malerie, who steals every scene she's in). It's never quite clear if the titular power surge is an act of God, a tragedy, or the punctuation mark on a cautionary tale – and I don't think Colfer and Dannelly ever intended to speak in such clear-cut turns. While it may not provide the most satisfying resolution to its adult exploration of adolescent ambition, inspiration and social pressures, the lesson in Struck By Lightning may be that there are no easy answers. If so, I have a feeling that we can expect Colfer to keep asking the questions.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________



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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  ColferInspired on 4/27/2012, 10:01 pm

tanita_mors wrote:
Review: "Struck By Lightning" Lets Chris Colfer Shine in Stormy Weather

Not many teen comedies bother trying to take an honest look at the real and sometimes insurmountable obstacles faced by even the best and brightest during the tumultuous high school years.

Then again, not many teen comedies begin by killing their main character off in the first 90 seconds.

Struck By Lightning, directed by Brian Dannelly and written by and starring Glee star Chris Colfer, isn't your typical teen movie. It isn't even your atypical teen movie – you know, the anti-establishment screeds spawned by the brilliant (and possibly even dangerous) Heathers that made the '90s a renaissance of outsider teen entertainment. But while everything from The Craft to Drive Me Crazy to Never Been Kissed delighted in subverting the high school power structure, very few of those films tried to actually accomplish anything within it.

In Lightning, Colfer plays Carson Phillips, a smart and ambitious teen whose only life goals are to become the editor of The New Yorker, be the youngest person to be published by The New York Times, and win the Nobel Peace Prize and Pulitzer Prize for journalism (and I may be leaving out a few). But first, he must get out of his podunk hometown of Clover, which for him means getting accepted into Northwestern University. If you haven't noticed, Carson knows what he wants – and as we soon learn, he isn't afraid to break a few eggs to get to the New Yorker cafeteria's omelet bar.

Upon the advice of his professionally inept career counselor (Angela Kinsey, at her most delightfully batty), Carson decides to start a literary magazine at his school – despite the fact that the newspaper (which he also runs) is a total failure. When he can't get anyone to submit to the magazine, Carson decides to force his classmates into contributing to his dream by blackmailing them with their dirty secrets, which he uncovers with the help of his only friend, a camera-happy loser and failed writer named Malerie (Bridesmaids' awesome Rebel Wilson). Among his targets are a philandering cheerleader (Modern Family's Sarah Hyland), a prissy know-it-all with a dirty side (Suburgatory's amazing Allie Grant), and a few closeted gay guys ... well, one's the president of Drama Club, so his closet is probably filled with tulle – but his down low BF isn't ready to come out yet.

So sure, Struck by Lightning may share the same basic setup as plenty of other teen flicks where an outsider uses the hypocrisy of the school's ruling class against them. But while the thrill of these setups usually comes from the outsider's pleasure in watching the high-functioning kids squirm when they're revealed to be less-than-perfect, in this case their tormenter really just wants to get into college. Carson isn't a moralist, he's an opportunist – but when his scheme has the unintended effect of actually getting some of his classmates to think more deeply about their goals and ambitions, he welcomes the chance to try and change things for the better for everyone.

As the film's rather unlikable central character, Colfer is great – he's still playing a pithy, super-smart kid in the Kurt Hummel mold, but Carson is far more jaded and less prone to throwing glitter on his problems. Carson is prickly, uncompromising, and sometimes downright mean, which is fascinating to watch – every move he makes has an undercurrent of barely-concealed rage. It's actually surprising that his character didn't explode on his own before the lightning got to him.

Applying the lion's share of the pressure on Carson is his mother, a painfully sad woman who has resigned herself to a lonely life as a single loser propped up by pills and booze. Allison Janney is wonderful in the role – the weight of her decision to give up on her own life hangs on her like an albatross, especially when it begins to come clear just how much her decisions have affected her only son. Carson is also deeply troubled by the gradual loss of his grandmother (Polly Bergen) to Alzheimer's, which renders her unable to recognize her grandson. His absentee father (Dermot Mulroney) is also back in Carson's life after his attempts to marry his new, pregnant fiancee (Christina Hendricks) hit a snag because he never got officially divorced.

If this all sounds a bit bleak, that's because it kind of is. But thanks to Colfer's witty dialog and Dannelly's proven ability to balance tough dramatic themes with unexpected humor (something he did brilliantly in Saved!), it feels lighter than the sum of its weighty parts. Frequently very funny, Struck By Lightning is more or less a comedy – but like Carson's ambition, it comes from a place of rage: Colfer reportedly wrote the skeleton of the story as a means of letting off steam in high school, where he felt misunderstood by his lazy and unambitious classmates. That frustration is clearly communicated in the finished product, which is actually fairly dark for a teen comedy that doesn't end with someone blowing up the school.

It's also interesting to note that while the dirt he uses to entrap his classmates and teachers is primarily sexy-time in nature, Carson himself is presented as completely asexual – he's never identified as either gay or straight, and is defined almost entirely by his ambitions. He's also an equal opportunity extortionist, using indiscretions of all orientations to blackmail his classmates. Considering that Colfer's Glee character has been primarily identified by his sexuality from the get-go, it's an interesting contrast (and possibly one that was deliberately designed). And of course Colfer is openly gay in real life as well – a choice he made early in his career despite the resounding echo of Hollywood wisdom that audiences won't accept openly gay actors in straight roles. Is the world ready to see Colfer as a straight romantic lead? No idea. But maybe this movie demonstrates that they don't need to be. (If you asked Carson, he'd probably tell you that romance is overrated anyway.)

I realize I'm focusing a bit on Lightning's more serious elements here, because I do think the film sets itself apart from much teen fare by tackling some weighty issues without the safety net of irony or sarcasm. But it really is very funny, featuring crisp, smart dialog and moments of inspired physical comedy (not to mention the monumentally awkward Malerie, who steals every scene she's in). It's never quite clear if the titular power surge is an act of God, a tragedy, or the punctuation mark on a cautionary tale – and I don't think Colfer and Dannelly ever intended to speak in such clear-cut turns. While it may not provide the most satisfying resolution to its adult exploration of adolescent ambition, inspiration and social pressures, the lesson in Struck By Lightning may be that there are no easy answers. If so, I have a feeling that we can expect Colfer to keep asking the questions.

That was a really good review.

This movie I can tell is going to be big.

I still can't believe Chris is only 21 and he has sold his first movie he ever made.

I said I didn't want to see spoilers for this movie, but I had to read the reviews.
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Re: [Spoiler Alert] Struck by Lightning POST-WATCHING Discussion and Reviews Thread

Post  Divalicious on 4/28/2012, 3:33 am

The movie doesn't even need to be huge, the budget was small, so they will easily get their money back. Making a profit is the only thing that really matters in the entertainment world. A critical success is what I want more, compliments on Chris' acting, so others will write great roles for him, and he doesn't have to keep writing his own. Can you imagine a Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Chris Colfer movie? Yikes, it gives me palpitations. *fans self*

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