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Dramatic Insights News

All the latest goings-on with Greg and Jenn Wright, Hollywood Jesus Books and DIM.

About Greg & Jenn Wright: Greg and Jenn Wright have been married since 1999, and share passions for God, drama, literature and movies (among other things). In 2003, they were honored as Best Actor and Best Actress in a production of While the Lights Were Out at Redwood Theatre in Redmond, Washington; since then, health issues have kept them off the stage. Freelance writers and editors, they both have degrees in Literature and Theology, and are proud to be members of Harambee Church in Renton. Greg is Writer in Residence at Puget Sound Christian College in Everett, Washington, and is the author of Peter Jackson in Perspective: The Power Behind Cinema's The Lord of the Rings (HJ Books, 2004) and Tolkien in Perspective: Sifting the Gold from the Glitter (VMI, 2003). Together, they have edited and published a number of other books.
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Latest Details on Jenn's Health

Jenn has just completed a detailed rundown on what's been going on with her health the last few months. It's now up on her personal blog.

The Reader's Digest version is that, on top of total stomach failure, it now looks like her intestines have also failed, but in exactly the opposite respect of her stomach. Her tummy won't let anything through; her guts won't keep anything in. Her symptoms are now being diagnosed as part of an autonomic system failure, a condition which really has no course of treatment.

For symptom alleviation, and nutrition maintenance, she's back on IV feeding through a PICC line, which introduces high risk of infection all over again, and is taking Tincture of Iodine to try to control chronic, spasmodic diarrhea. Just this weekend, she's trying to restart tube feeding again, after having been off for almost three months.

Jenn also blogged about her detailed impressions of the Grand Canyon trip.

But life goes on; and as Jenn mentions to close her health update, God keeps blessing us, and when all is said and done, we've got it good.

Recent Reviews

All the King's Men
Greg reviews at Hollywood Jesus: Two impulses, Zaillian reveals to us, allow us to reach the wrong conclusions about our suspicions. One tells us not to get involved; it's the lazy one that tells us, "I'd rather sit here and watch." Sure, we suspect that something is not right; but figuring that out and correcting it is someone else's job. Think of Darfur. Think of New Orleans, for God's sake. Think of a certain September day five years ago. The second impulse is the one that tells us the truth cannot be known. But Zaillian doesn’t let us off the hook. More than one of characters is wise to the fact that "The only way to not know is not wanting to know."
And comments at Looking Closer: We only know Willie Stark to the extent that Jack Burden knows him—which isn’t very far. Ultimately, this is only problematic to the extent that one is uncomfortable with ambiguity; and clearly, Zaillian is more uncomfortable with that than I am, or, say, Clint Eastwood would be. Just as clearly, Zaillian thinks his audience will be just as uncomfortable, unnecessarily punctuating his film's conclusion with exclamation-point flashbacks, as if to say, "Slick Willie Stark’s legacy must not be left to interpretation." But Zaillian's narrative structure precludes the kind of neat moralization that he nonetheless superimposes. Neither saints nor the degenerate are best painted from ambiguous pigments of our imaginations.

Greg reviews at Hollywood Jesus: Now, even if one buys into this film's romanticized vision of war and the history of war, the fact is that Flyboys never really gets around to telling the story it purports to. What it does get around to is an awful lot of repetitive air battles and sketchy, perfunctory character development; and when the inevitable (and predictable) dueling finally takes place, it’s hard not to scream, "What took you so long?" But even then, the central conflict never carries much moral weight. Do these young men really believe in much of anything besides mere survival?

This Film is Not Yet Rated
Greg reviews at Hollywood Jesus: As Dick's documentary (sometimes graphically) shows, independent and gay-themed films are rated more harshly than their studio and straight-themed counterparts, based on scene-for-scene comparisons. Second is the veil of secrecy behind which the MPAA "protects" its ratings board members from scrutiny—a veil which Dick's film rips to shreds. Third is the obvious (and covert) influence that the studios wield over the process.

Gridiron Gang
Greg reviews at Hollywood Jesus: Part of the really good news of Gridiron Gang—which I fully expected to be a pigskin full of cliches given the obvious pandering opportunities with the MTV/BET and NFL audiences—is that the football games are all played in broad daylight. The better part of the good news is that Gridiron Gang actually works, in spite of the presence of "The Rock." In fact, I can actually respect the fact that Mr. Rock bills himself on this film using his real name, Dwayne Johnson. Johnson believes in this material, and connects with it deeply himself.
And comments at Looking Closer: What Gridiron Gang really does right is avoid sports-movie and gang-movie clichés. It does not overemphasize winning and flashy play. It doesn't glamorize gangbanging, and death comes not in Peckinpah-esque slo-mo but in instants of sudden violence. The football games are mercifully and realistically staged in broad daylight, ending the streak of night-time cinematic pigskin preposterousness begun by The Last Boy Scout. What’s best, the payoff of the movie is the same as the payoff in the real-life story: the transformation of lives, not the winning of games.

Everyone's Hero
Jenn reviews at Looking Closer: Basically, it's a good animated feature. Definitely entertaining enough for the adults whose children will truly enjoy the pratfalls of Lefty Maginnis, the maniacal ravings of Mr. Cross, the Cubs' general manager, and the earnest, pure-hearted loyalty of a Depression-era boy whose honest, hard-working father’s reputation—not just his job—is at stake. With all the sports-centered films currently playing in which losers become winners, Everyone's Hero will keep America's kids in the game.

The Protector
Greg reviews at Looking Closer: The film offers little in the way of character development; action sequences are strung together with seemingly minimal concern for narrative flow; dubbed dialogue rarely matches up to the movements of actors' mouths, even when their lips actually form English words; individual shots within individual scenes suggest the work of seven or eight different production designers. Heck, The Protector plays like a low-budget, third-world homage to Tarantino-Rodriguez collaborative paeans to pulp cinema. It's a pastiche of cult-film references, from Lee and Chan to Mad Max, from the World Wrestling Federation to the World Wildlife Federation, from Crouching Tiger to Two Brothers. Huh. But none of that really matters.

Greg reviews at Looking Closer: Frankly, if one has a taste for seamy slice-of-life irony, it's hard not to watch this movie and appreciate life from Chinaski's point of view. Sure, he's lazy. Sure, he's a prick. Sure, he's hardly the model of discipline that writers tend to emulate. Sure, he hasn't a clue about how rewarding relationships can actually be, even when the sex goes south. But those things really aren't his priorities. Living is, and living in a way that's strictly on his terms. And face it, isn't that really the case with most of us? Aren't we all really just selfish bastards after one manner or the other? The symptoms, for most of us, are just more fashionable than they are for Chinaski.

Greg reviews at Hollywood Jesus: Wow. Doesn't the plot just sound like Something New? Much in the same way as Tokyo Drift, yes. Where Drift had its footwork totally down, though, Crossover misses on nearly every cylinder. Drift was eyepopping, if a body-shopworn retread. Crossover is just mindboggling nonsense, the cinematic equivalent of three seconds in everyone else's key.
And comments at Looking Closer: Noah’s planning to ride his UCLA scholarship all the way to med school, while Tech slaves away to polish off his GED. It’s a long row to hoe, since he has real trouble adding $125 and $35 in his head. But why bother describing anything else about the plot? Because this is the real problem with Tech. He just can't figure anything out. Not long after, Tech bemoans the fact that he has no idea how he'll manage to finance two plane tickets to LA—despite the fact that he holds down a regular job, has just paid off his mom's outstanding light bill, and is standing there with over a thousand dollars in his pocket. Do they just grow 'em stupid in Detroit? No, they don't. They just grow 'em stupid in Crossover.

Greg reviews at Hollywood Jesus: Like a seedy, trashy (or earthy) version of one of Jesus' parables, Idlewild documents how two friends become survivors, discover their own true identities apart from each other, find their circles intersecting less and less, and establish wildly succesful independent careers. It's like watching a pair of quarrelsome quibblers work out their differences in some artsy-fartsy (and cathartically pseudo-violent) therapy session.
And comments at Looking Closer: To be perfectly honest, Idlewild plays like an S. E. Hinton novel reworked for urban black youths. Hinton's novels likewise traded on hoary literary clichés, and they pretty much depended on wide-eyed teens gobbling up mythic archetypes as if they were Wonka-esque originalities. Heck, even the Grand Old Man of American cinematic art-housism, Francis Ford Coppola, dabbled in Hinton adaptions with The Outsiders and Rumblefish. But there are differences. First, Barber is no Coppola.

"Past the Popcorn" Announced

From our official press release:
The former number two man at pop-culture review site HollywoodJesus.com has established a new partnership with Gospelcom.net. As Senior Editor for Hollywood Jesus, Greg Wright developed event-movie coverage that helped the site become part of a major shift in Hollywood studio relations with Christian media. With new partners coming on board to assist site founder David Bruce with a relaunch this summer, Wright took the opportunity to investigate new journalistic opportunities. Last week, Wright signed a partnership agreement with Gospelcom to develop a new website devoted to Christian film criticism. Aiming for a November launch, "Past the Popcorn" will offer critical essays, interviews, and editorials examining the roles that directors, producers, and screenwriters play in shaping cinematic entertainment.
The complete text of the press release can be found HERE. Greg just got back from attending the annual Gospelcom conference in Chicago, where he spoke on blogging and internet forum moderation.

Further Archives

January 2005

September 2004

June 2004

May 2004

October 2003

May 2003

January 2003

November 2002

October 2002

August 2002

June 2002

April 2002

December 2000

October 2000

June 2000

April 2000

February 2000

December 1999

October 1999

July 1999

June 1999

April 1999

March 1999

February 1999

Copyright © 2002 - 2005  Greg & Jenn Wright