Monday, June 29, 2009

"My Sister's Keeper"

In "My Sister's Keeper," Anna (Abigail Breslin) was conceived as a donor for her sister Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) who has cancer. By the age of eleven Anna has already gone through several painful medical procedures to save her sister. Now she must endure another surgery in order to give her dying sister her kidney. Anna shocks her parents by hiring a lawyer (Alex Baldwin) to get medical emancipation so she can make her own decisions about her body and live her own life.

"My Sister's Keeper" succeeds as a tear jerker. Despite some script problems including undeveloped characters, contrived plot elements, and a stereotypical terminally wise child, it moved me to tears. It could be because of what I brought to the film as an audience member. I related to the marriage straining under the responsibilities of parenthood. The mother (Cameron Diaz) had given up everything, including her relationship with her husband (Jason Patric), to take care of her sick child. In her single minded pursuit to keep her daughter alive, she has forgotten the importance of living. Though this storyline paid off with an emotionally stirring scene, it would have been more powerful if their marital problems had been set up earlier and we actually saw the father being pushed out of the picture.

In an interesting structural device, each character narrates their point of veiw on how having a family member with cancer affects their lives. You would think that this would give ample opportunity for each characters' storyline to be developed. Unfortunately, some storylines have gaping holes in them.

The male family members are nearly non-existent through much of the film. You could argue that it was the director's (Nick Cassavetes, The Notebook) intent since everything evolves around the sick child's needs while everyone else is neglected. For instance, there are some vague references to the brother (Evan Ellingson) needing help because he is dyslexic, but that story thread is abruptly dropped. In one scene he wanders into a bad section of the city and watches street walkers. Nothing happens. No one even notices that he's gone. Perhaps that's the point. But it may have had more impact if he had gotten into trouble.

Their many sacrifices have weighed on the family, but I believe the spirit of giving has a positive impact on the children. They have grown so much closer from taking care of each other. The film touches on the theme that giving to others is it's own reward and a worthwhile way to live.

If you could use a good cry or a reminder of how good life can be, watch "My Sister's Keeper". How you spend your entertainment dollars tells Hollywood what kind of movies you want. Want more family dramas? Then go see "My Sister's Keeper" while it is still in the first run theaters.

Movie Blessings!
Jana Segal

Thursday, June 04, 2009


August 14-16, 2009, Fri 6-9 p.m. Sat/Sun 9a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pre-register now to save your place. (Sign in 5:30 Fri.)
Tucson Marriott University Park, 880 E. Second Street, Tucson, AZ

Cost for Observing Directors/Actors: $100.)($10 off for pre-registered Pan Left, APA, PIFMG, ZONIE, IFASA, NALIP, and IFP members).

Cost for Participating Actors: $50 (chosen by Participating Directors for scene work, pre-workshop prep required including scene memorization and rehearsal with Director, apply by e-mailing headshot/resume.)

*individual body language; how characters move in relationship to each other and the space.
*a powerful tool used to trigger emotional responses within the actor and the audience.
*illuminates the subtext or unspoken desires, needs, fears and fantasies of the characters.
*can stimulate the character in a desirable direction or make it harder to perform the scene.

*students learn tricks of the trade Mark has developed from decades of experience in television, film and theatre.
*staging techniques that support the dynamics of the scene such as the characters’ objectives, character arcs, conflict, adjustments, and shifts in relationships are demonstrated as participating directors stage two actor scenes in front of the class as Mark coaches.

What Mark’s students are saying:

“Mark has an in depth understanding of how an actor works and what an actor needs to give their best performance. His techniques are simple yet profound. Directors and actors alike were astounded by the results.” Eric Schumacher, Actor.

“What an amazing learning experience. I feel like we only scratched the surface. I'm very anxious to incorporate his technique into my rehearsal process.” Alan Williams, Director

Mark wrote the Best Seller, THE DIRECTOR’S JOURNEY: the Creative Collaboration between Directors, Writers and Actors; as well as DIRECTING FEATURE FILMS. He shared his techniques at The Directors Guild, The Actors Studio, American Film Institute, Pixar Animations Studios, and UCLA Extension. Mark is creative consultant to film directors Mark Rydell, George Tillman, Chazz Palminteri, Cyrus Nowrosteh, among others. Television directing credits include: The Facts of Life, Family Ties, and Capitol. Graduate training in Theatre Directing at the Yale School of Drama.

Registration info at: or