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Jana Segal

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About Jana Segal

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    http://reelinspiration.blogspot.com/
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  • Location
    Tucson, AZ
  • Interests
    Writing reviews of meaningful, inspiring films and promoting them for Reel Inspiration. <br /><br />Organizing directing and screenwriting workshops. <br /><br />

Previous Fields

  • Occupation
    screenwriter
  • Favorite movies
    * Whale Rider * Akeela and the Bee * Crash * Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind * The Quiet Man * On Golden Pond * Like Water for Chocolate * Strictly Ballroom * The Color Purple * Sound of Music * West Side Story * The Piano * When Harry Met Sally * Wonder Boys * Broadcast News * Tootsie * Moonstruck * Remember the Titans * The Notebook * Almost Famous * Norma Ray * Pride and Prejudice * The Namesake * Dances with Wolves * To Kill a Mockingbird * American Beauty * The Lives of Others * The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada * It's a Wonderful Life * Mr. Holland's Opus * Shawshank Redemption * Hotel Rwanda * Shindlers List * Do the Right Thing * Bend it like Beckham * Groundhog Day * The Wizard of Oz * THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS * Lars and the Real Girl
  • Favorite music
    N/A
  • Favorite creative writing
    N/A
  • Favorite visual art
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  1. Jana Segal

    Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

    Since I have a comedy/Western/fantasy I am trying to get produced, I am rooting for "Cowboys and Aliens" to be a huge success. Despite that, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. I was excited about this original new idea - combining sci fi with Westerns! But Hollywood seems to think we need the tired old story lines to make it easier to watch something new. (Look at Avatar for example.) So we get another predictable story! I don't know about you, but I am dying for something new!
  2. Jana Segal

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

    As a "Harry Potter" fan from day one, I found, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" a very satisfying, exciting and engrossing end to the franchise.
  3. Jana Segal

    Top Ten of the Decade

    Wow! A lot of great films. Hard to tell how to rate them. There are films that I see popping up as popular favorites like the "Lord of the Ring Trilogy." And those on the yearly best films list like, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." How do they compare with Oscar winners, "There Will Be Blood" or "Crash?" Or the best Foreign films, "Pan's Labyrinth" or lessor known, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "The Others" or one of my favorites, "Even the Rain?" Will any indie films make the cut (Winter's Bone) or comedies (Up in the Air?) Docs? (Who has heard of the amazing doc, "Big River Man?") What will survive the test of time?
  4. Thanks for clarifying this for me. I'll try to remember. (As I don't post that often...) Have a great day!
  5. Lets look at three recent movies that illuminate the role of husbands and/or fathers in the family. With the inherit stresses such as financial responsibilities, can a man find fulfillment and happiness in being a family man? Is all the hard work worth it? “Soul Surfer” is about a traditional family with a new twist – family life revolves around their passion for surfing. The mother (Helen Hunt) home schools her daughter, Bethany, (AnnaSophia Robb) to allow her to train to be a championship level surfer. The film hints that the father (Dennis Quaid) is no longer able to surf at that level because of a knee injury. But he doesn't have time for regrets. The sport isn't his whole life. This close knit family has created a balanced life that also includes family, friends, and church. So when tragedy strikes (a shark bites off Bethany's arm), the family finds strength in God and each other. The father tries to protect his daughter from the over zealous press. He watches with concern and pride as she struggles to surf with one arm. When she decides it's time to train for the championship, he coaches her. The way the family deals with the tragedy brings them closer together. Supported by understanding parents, Bethany finds her true path and meaning in her life. (It's cool to see a true story about a teenager who embraces a calling greater than herself.) In “Everything Must Go,” Nick (Will Ferrell) is fired from his job as a result of a dumb mistake he made during a drunken business trip. He comes home to discover that his wife has left him, changed the locks, and thrown his belongings on the lawn. Somewhere along the way, he has forgotten everything that brought him joy – like baseball, his sales career, and having a loving relationship with his wife. Instead, he filled the void with alcohol and the meaningless pursuit of possessions. Without the strong foundation of family to support him, his stupid mistake shatters the marriage and wrecks his life. He has no place to go so he sets up house on the lawn. To buy himself a few more days, he enlists the help of a lonely, aimless boy to organize a phony yard sale. He becomes a sort of pathetic father figure to the kid as he plays catch and teaches the boy sales techniques. In exchange, the kid reminds him of what he lost – the good in himself. “Win Win,” seems to be about a traditional family with the husband, Nick, acting in the traditional role of bread winner. Nick (Paul Giamatti) is so stressed by financial troubles that his life has become strained and stagnant. Everything he once held dear has lost it's meaning – his role as a husband and father as well as his career as a lawyer for the elderly. He has even lost all joy in coaching the high school wrestling team. He also seems to have lost his moral compass when he becomes a lazy, apathetic custodian of one of his elderly clients for the easy money. He gets more than he bargained for when the old man's teenage grandson (played by wrestling champ Alex Shaffer) shows up to escape his drug addicted mother. The last thing Nick needs is another responsibility. But helping the troubled teen turns out to be a win win for all involved. When the athletic teen joins the wrestling team, it revitalizes the team and the makeshift family. When Nick's stupid mistake is uncovered, will there be a strong enough family foundation to weather the storm? These three films present a compelling argument that a man can find fulfillment (and, yes, happiness) in overcoming life's struggles through the strength of his family. Movie Blessings! Jana Segal www.reelinspiration.blogspot.com
  6. “Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation... while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” A beam of light unfurls. THE TREE OF LIFE is a reflection on the meaning of life. What is the filmmaker trying to say? That is highly subjective. Aside from an opening narration that cues us in on the theme, the director leaves it to the audience to form our own conscious or subconscious impressions on the images he presents. Each audience member brings their own experiences which informs the meaning for them. I happened onto a Christian study guide that had a completely different slant on, "The Tree of Life." You can check out the study guide at: http://www.americanbible.org/content/arts-and-media/explore-tree-life This is a challenging film because of the nonlinear structure that shifts between time and space, three different character's points of view, and nature photography. After the screening, I overhead someone respond, “What the Hell was that?” This review is for the “What the Hell was that?” crowd or anyone else who could benefit from cliff notes in order to enjoy this surreal film. I don't pretend to understand it all. This is just my interpretation drawn from my own memories and recounting similar images from science programs. The filmmaker uses this opening narration to give us a handle on how to understand the nature images and memories to follow. The mother meditates, "There are two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace. We have to choose the way we will follow.” Basically, nature is competitive and only cares for itself while grace relies on a sense of oneness with all of existence. Soon after the opening images and narration, we witness the family getting the news that one of their three sons has died. The Father, Mother and their oldest son try to make sense of the loss. This brings on a lot of soul searching about how the children were raised and inspires prayers requesting understanding of the meaning of life, suffering, and death. This may be a good point to see the movie yourself to create your own impressions. 139 minutes later. Now, for my take on it.... The Mother's narration suggests that there are two ways of experiencing life – one through nature and the other through grace. The Mother represents the “way of grace”- our connection with all things, unconditional love, empathy, and freedom of spirit. Scenes of the Mother and her children playing and exploring the wonders of nature are interwoven with footage of nature showing that they are interconnected. The Mother teaches them to see the world through the eyes of the soul. The Father represents “the way of nature” that is competitive and only out for it's own survival. The father tries to toughen up his sons by teaching them to fight. He demands that they hit him harder, “Hit me! Hit me!” and finally knocks the older boy to the ground. He lectures that you can't be too good if you want to get ahead. “It takes fierce will to get ahead in this world.” But the Father forces his children to bend to his will by enforcing overly strict rules. “The way of nature” is also represented in the animal world by a scene where one dinosaur happens onto a wounded dinosaur. He demonstrates his dominance by holding down the weaker animal's head before walking away. But the father's competitive nature isn't working. He is unsuccessful in his life. He never misses a day of work, yet he is laid off his of job. He never even pursued his dream of being a musician. He has lost the connection with his sons. They are so suppressed that when the Father goes on a trip, the family celebrates by running free and purposely breaking all his rules. The older son struggles to find his place in the world. “Father, Mother, always you wrestle inside of me. Always you will.” As the architect of his life, he designs skyscraper buildings with steel walls separating him from nature and relationships. It is only when he sees a tree being planted outside the building that he remembers the tree that his parents once planted for him. I believe the true message of the film is that “the way of grace” and “the way of nature” are connected through unconditional love. At one time the family was very close - embraced by both the Mother and the Father. The Father and the Mother loved their young children unconditionally. It was only when the Father tried to impose his competitive will that the family fell apart. The film interweaves happy memories of the birth of the children, the family's early years, and exploring the wonder of nature with spectacular images that show the formation of the universe such as planets, the big boom, volcanic activity, and the beginnings of life under the ocean. In all this grandeur we sense the presence of God. If we just let go, it's almost as if our consciousness is connected with the beginning of time. The branches of that tree now reach up to the sky – as if nature is reaching to touch God. Movie Blessings! Jana Segal www.reelinspiration.blogspot.com Movie trailer:
  7. 1. Even the Rain 2. Big River Man 3. Winter's Bone 4. The King's Speech 5. How to Train Your Dragon 6. Don't Let Me Drown 7. Lebanon 8. The Fighter 9. Sleep Dealer 10. Afghan Star 11. Toy Story 3 Honorable Mention: Mid-August Lunch Movie Blessings! Jana Check out my mini reviews and film links at www.reelinspiration.blogspot.com
  8. Jana Segal

    The Tree of Life (2011)

    “Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation... while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” A beam of light unfurls. THE TREE OF LIFE is a reflection on the meaning of life. What is the filmmaker trying to say? That is highly subjective. Aside from an opening narration that cues us in on the theme, the director leaves it to the audience to form our own conscious or subconscious impressions on the images he presents. Each audience member brings their own experiences which informs the meaning for them. This is a challenging film because of the nonlinear structure that shifts between time and space, three different character's points of view, and nature photography. I don't pretend to understand it all. My interpretation is drawn from my own memories and recounting similar images from science programs. The filmmaker uses the opening narration to give us a handle on how to understand the nature images and memories to follow. The mother meditates, “There are two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace. We have to choose the way we will follow.” Basically, nature is competitive and only cares for itself while grace relies on a sense of oneness with all of existence. Soon after the opening images and narration, we witness the family getting the news that one of their three sons has died. The Father, Mother and their oldest son try to make sense of the loss. This brings on a lot of soul searching about how the children were raised and inspires prayers requesting understanding of the meaning of life, suffering, and death. Check out my interpretation at: www.reelinspiration.blogspot.com I would love to hear your interpretation too. Please, leave a comment.
  9. Jana Segal

    2009 Top Ten Lists

    I just posted Reel Inspiration's MOST INSPIRING FILMS of 2009 list. 1. Up in the Air 2. Paris 3. Invictus 4. Departures 5. Precious 6. Tulpan 7. Rachel Getting Married 8. Sugar 9. Moon 10. The Messenger 11. Wendy and Lucy For descriptions of these inspiring films or to vote for your favorite inspiring films, go to: www.reelinspiration.blogspot.com Movie blessings! Jana Segal
  10. Happy New Year film lovers! I've heard some reviewers complain that this has been a bad year for film - some of the same reviewers that think a film can't be art unless it's edgy and vile. But if you love films that move and inspire you or films that are true expressions of the filmmaker's artistic vision (even if they make you work for it) - then this was a great year for film! It is a pleasure to present Reel Inspiration's MOST INSPIRING FILMS OF 2008. This list is compiled of films have been promoted through our reviews on Reel Inspiration's blogs. Diverse films with entertaining, powerful stories that uplift, challenge, give hope or inspire. Some weight has been given to films that are particular relevant to the issues of our time. I realize that there are many definitions and opinions on what makes an inspiring film. I would love to hear them! That's why I'm giving you a chance to share your favorite inspiring films. Please, take a moment to vote for your five favorites on the survey in the right column on www.reelinspiration.blogspot.com. This is important because it gives me an idea of what kind of films you would like to see reviewed. You are also encouraged to share your insights and opinions in the comment section. The survey is made up of films that Reel Inspiration friends and members have recommended on our myspace, facebook, and blogspot pages. (And some well reviewed films that I haven't had a chance to see because they haven't screened in Tucson yet.) Please, enjoy the list of my favorite inspiring films of 2008 and take a minute to vote for your favorites too. www.reelinspiration.blogspot.com Movie blessings in the New Year! Jana Segal Reel Inspiration's MOST INSPIRING FILMS OF 2008 10. Happy Go Lucky 9. Synecdoche, New York 8. Under the Same Moon (LA MISMA LUNA) 7. Slumdog Millionaire 6. The Bands Visit 5. The Visitor 4. The Secret Life of Bees 3. Frost/Nixon 2. Starting Out In the Evening 1. Milk 10. Director Mike Leigh is known for using improv to develop his scripts and to get natural dialogue and performances out of his actors. His film, "Happy Go Lucky" goes beyond that. It had me thinking after I left the theatre. How many current comedies can you say that about? 9. Charlie Kaufman's film, "Synecdoche, New York," is as challenging as the name. Kaufman literally creates a whole world and realizes his uncompromised (though somewhat depressing) creative vision. Some of the images stayed with me for days and I had real a longing to see it again. 8. The touching film, "Under the Same Moon" puts a human face on the heated debate about illegal immigrants and border issues. 7. "Slumdog Millionaire" was hard for me to sit through - watching all those horrific scenes of Indian slum children being abused. But the highly innovative story builds to a strong ending with the worthy theme of how good triumphs over adversity when you stay on your true path. 5 and 6. Music transcends racial differences and initiates human connections in, "The Visitor" and "The Bands Visit." "The Visitor" also reminds us that kindness is it's own reward - earning it the number 5 spot. 4. "The Secret Life of Bees" is a coming of age story set in the South during the Civil Rights Movement. A runaway white girl learns to cope with the painful truth and find forgiveness through the unconditional love of this uniquely liberated black family. I wanted to stay in the world of this heartwarming film and join the family. 3. "Frost/Nixon" is based on the famous news special in which English talk show host, Frost, tried to coax a confession out of Nixon for his part in Watergate. This is a particularly timely piece since many Americans can relate the feeling of losing faith in our government. I found myself rooting for this second rate talk show host to convince the intellectually superior Nixon to finally take responsibility for the cover up and hurting the American people. Compelling writing and acting. I wasn't watching actors, I was watching Frost and Nixon. 2. "Starting Out in the Evening." Andrew Wagner's sheer love of writing radiates in this deep and touching adult drama set in the dying literary world. It might be because I'm a writer, but this film lives in my heart. 1. Harvey Milk's life as the first openly gay elected official is inspiring enough. But actor Sean Penn (living the role of Harvey Milk), writer Dustin Lance Black, and director Gus Van Sant elevate this picture from a biopic to art. ENJOY!
  11. Jeffrey wrote: "I might say that the Redeeming list includes films that are most obviously uplifting, most obviously concerned with matters of spiritual growth, most directly inspiring. The films on this list lend themselves to being boiled down to some lessons learned." I agree. Some of the films are inspiring but may not be the best examples of Redeeming Movies. Greg states a good example: "And I understand how and why Into Great Silence is a huge favorite for many of CT's writers for 2007... But how is it redemptive?" Some movies which have redemption as a MAJOR theme are: Away from Her (enduring love and loyalty redeem the once unfaithful husband), The Lives of Others (beauty has the power to transform), Amazing Grace (the slave dealer's repentance inspires a man to continue his fight to abolish slavery in England), The Namesake (after rebelling against everything that is important to his father, a young man finds his way back to his family heritage.) These inspiring films can be found on the Reel Inspiration Best Films List. http://reelinspiration.blogspot.com/search... Films list Of course, The Kite Runner's main theme is redemption. The main character goes back to save the child of the friend he betrayed. The Freedom Writers seemed an odd choice. I'm not sure the teacher's storyline qualifies. (Is she redeemed from being a bad teacher?) However, her students rejecting their gang life certainly does. In Bella, the careless driver is redeemed by saving an unborn child. Noelle, a simular film, could be included for having the same theme. I think a clearer definition of what the Redeeming Movies list is going for may help. Jana Segal http://reelinspiration.blogspot.com/
  12. Jana Segal

    The Kite Runner

    The Kite Runner is an important film because it puts a human face and historical context on what happened in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, when many Americans think of Afghanistan, we think of Al-Qaida, terrorism and 9/11. (What's happening with the film's young stars doesn't help.) The Kite Runner does much to humanize the conflict and break those stereotypes. I wanted to love The Kite Runner, but I was never entirely emotionally invested in the story. I think it is because the main character, Amir, wasn't. Amir overhears his father complain that there seems to be something missing in the boy when his friend Hassan must stick up for him because he won't. "A boy who won't stick up for himself won't stand for anything." The kite contest was one way Amir could prove himself to his father. But he seemed disengaged even when he won. Then he betrays his one loyal friend. When the communist invade the country, the family is forced to escape to America leaving his friend behind. The now grown up Amir gets a call from His father's friend in Afghanistan offering Amir, "A way to be good again" by going home. He has a chance to redeem himself by saving his friend's son. Back in Afghanistan, he seems like a tourist during the most important event of his life. The climactic moment feels like it's from another film -- an action film. By the end he has finally learned to stick up for the son of the friend he betrayed in a satisfying scene. Despite it's flaws, The Kite Runner has an important theme of guilt and redemption. The movie succeeds in putting a human face on what happened in Afghanistan creating more understanding. Jana Segal http://reelinspiration.blogspot.com/
  13. After some consideration, I've chosen 12 films to be on my "Best of 2007" list. I've tried to select a diverse variety from the films that Reel Inspiration promoted this past year or films that I didn't get a chance to see while they were in the first run theaters but later ended up on my recommended movies list. All of these films fill Reel Inspiration's criteria of having entertaining, powerful stories that uplift, challenge, give hope or inspire human consciousness. We tend to review more independent films that can benefit from our grassroots promotions. We also promote studio films that aren't high concept blockbusters. Most of all, we promote outstanding films. This was a great year for outstanding films. All of the films on my list have one thing in common -- something important to say. Check out my favorites at: http://reelinspiration.blogspot.com/ Just for fun! Please, vote for your three (3) favorite inspiring, meaningful films for the 2007 Reel Inspiration Best Films List. Just click on your three favorites on the list in the right hand column of our blog: http://reelinspiration.blogspot.com/ Movie Blessings in the New Year! Jana Segal Reel Inspiration
  14. Jana Segal

    2007 Reel Inspiration Best Films List

    After some consideration, I've chosen 12 films to be on my "Best of 2007" list. I've tried to select a diverse variety from the films that Reel Inspiration promoted this past year or films that I didn't get a chance to see while they were in the first run theaters but later ended up on my recommended movies list. All of these films fill Reel Inspiration's criteria of having entertaining, powerful stories that uplift, challenge, give hope or inspire human consciousness. We tend to review more independent films that can benefit from our grassroots promotions. We also promote studio films that aren't high concept blockbusters. Most of all, we promote outstanding films. This was a great year for outstanding films. All of the films on my list have one thing in common -- something important to say. Check out my favorites at: http://reelinspiration.blogspot.com/ Just for fun! Please, vote for your three (3) favorite inspiring, meaningful films for the 2007 Reel Inspiration Best Films List. Just click on your three favorites on the list in the right hand column of our blog: http://reelinspiration.blogspot.com/ Movie Blessings in the New Year! Jana Segal Reel Inspiration
  15. After the success of the Passion of the Christ, there was new interest in the Christian Market. Hollywood still wasn't sure how to handle this potential market. Some "Christian films" had come out, but most weren't good enough to show that this was a viable market. In 2005, I attended the Screenwriting Expo presentation on "The Christian Market." An experienced Hollywood Producer/Writer spoke about how Hollywood wasn't ready for overly Christian films. To break in, Christian filmmakers needed to produce films with Christian morals but not preach at the audience. I've been known to get a little preachy myself -- preaching that the theme or lesson should come out of the action. The consequence of the character's action proves the theme. This Winter, a movie came out that took this concept to heart: Bella. The characters did not preach but demonstrated Christian values through their actions. I went to Bella because it won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival and sounded like an inspiring independent film to review for Reel Inspiration. I didn't even realize until I was well into it, that it was a Christian film. (It becomes clear that the main character is Christian when he prays silently before a meal.) When a waitress is fired from her job for being late, the owner's brother chases after her to see if she is alright. All around them is the hustle and bustle of New York, people busy making another dollar. The film seems to say that there are more important things than making money -- like taking care of each other. This guy takes the day off to comfort and listen to this woman without judging her. He gains her trust. This is a new kind of love story -- where people show love through acts of kindness. This heartfelt film is beautifully acted and has some important themes. The only problem I had was that it took a while to get going probably because the conflict is internal. There's not a lot of conflict in sympathetic listening. I'm not a big fan of flashbacks and there's a few. It may seem a little talky to some people - reminiscent of Before Sunrise. Bella is the true love story that shows how one day in New York City changed three people's lives forever. Jose, an international soccer star (Eduardo Verastegui) is on his way to sign a multi-million dollar contract when a series of events unfold that bring his career to an abrupt end. He retreats from the world. A waitress (Tammy Blanchard) struggling to make it in New York City, discovers something she's unprepared for. In one irreversible moment, their lives are turned upside down...until a single gesture of kindness brings them both together, turning an ordinary day into a unforgettable experience. http://www.bellathemovie.com/ If you like Bella, you'll love Noelle. Check out my review at: http://reelinspiration.blogspot.com/ Movie Blessings, Jana Segal Reel Inspiration
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