An American Crime


Trailer of An American Crime

Unable to sleep I came across the film An American Crime. I read the brief information provided and learned the stars were Catherine Keener and Ellen Page so I decided to watch. I had never heard of the production or the true story of Sylvia Likens (Page) and what was considered the most horrible documented crime on an individual in the history of Indianapolis.

I watched with a knot in my stomach that just kept twisting as the film became more macabre, vicious and frightening, it was almost unbelievable. Unfortunately what I was watching was true and extremely tame compared to the actual crimes perpetrated on Sylvia by Gertrude Baniszewski (Keener). The film inter-cut between the courtroom testimony of the other five children and Sylvia’s own sister who were being cared for by “Gertie.” What I saw was so difficult that this is not going to be a film review at this time, but my reaction.

As soon as the film was over I googled the story and found myself reading various newspaper and journal articles. I wanted an answer as to how this could happen? I also wanted to know what the value was in making such a horrific, terrifying film? Only one conclusion made sense and both stars echoed the sentiment that her story needed to be told. Perhaps because it is so disturbing, it may make someone do something if ever they suspect that abuse is going on. Finally to remind people that Sylvia is just one precious life struck down by cruel, mentally unfit adults, scared children and seriously flawed judgement by so many others who could have, with one word saved this girls life.

No one said a thing as screams emanated from that house. Children told parents who either did not believe it or somehow ignored it for whatever reason. And neighbors, who heard just stayed to themselves. This is the crime which boils my blood as much as the torture Sylvia endured and that is the stark reality with which people live.

Ellen Page’s performance is heartbreaking and I wonder how one might be mentally able to sustain work in such a role.  I can’t imagine it not being something that will haunt her on some level.  Keener, although played with restraint is demonic, depraved, desperate and cruel.  In reconciling whether to do the film (which she originally refused) she finally decided that as a mother she had to. 

While we were laughing it up and watching Juno, Page was making a film quite different, important and controversial.  This is not for everyone.  It is a true crime story played out in gruesome fashion.  Yet for the Sylvia’s who lived and died this way perhaps it should be seen and discussed. 

 Copyright ©2008 Veronica Romm

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My way of saying goodbye.


One year ago today Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose leaving behind a daughter and throngs of adoring fans. It is hard to believe it has already been a year, probably due to the amount of media coverage his last film role has received. Today the nominations for the Academy Awards were announced and not surprisingly Ledger was nominated for best supporting actor as The Joker in last years smash hit The Dark Night. Last year I wrote a post in memory of Heath and Brad Renfro who had passed right around the same time.  I am re-posting (Jan. 31, 2008 was the original post date)  it because I think it did a good job describing my feelings about the tragic loss of this fine young actor.  May Heath rest in peace knowing he was loved and appreciated for his work as an actor as well as his character as a man.


For me when someone talented, interesting and special dies regardless of whether I knew them on a personal level, or admired their talent from a far, I grieve. The last two weeks have seen the death of two talented young men first Brad Renfro and then Heath Ledger. The minute I learned of each I had the same initial reaction.

1. Utter shock (stomach drops)

2. Disbelief (Heart races)

3. Curiosity (Reading as much as I could on initial reports)

I must digress for one moment. I interviewed both Actors between 1997-1999 when I worked press junkets for major motion pictures. They were both very young, handsome and talented, Renfro who was amazing in The Client and I had interviewed the cast of Apt Pupil.

I became a fan of Ledger’s initially for the obvious reasons, he was great to look at and charming. Through the years his films became better and he would shine in each role. Brokeback Mountain showed a mature actor taking risks and worthy of all the accolades, including an Oscar nomination. I have seen almost all of his films since. Candy was another heart breaking performance, as Ledger and Cornish brought to life the book of the same name.

The media coverage and all of the speculation took the focus off of the actual loss of Heath. Once again I experienced,

1. Anger (too young, too good)

2. Curiosity( continued almost non stop coverage by media)

3. Disbelief (Each time I saw his face, stomach drops)

Now that is has been several days and his memorial in Hollywood took place, his body is in his country and his family must bury their extraordinary son I feel,

1. Profound sadness.

2. Grief

3. And the beginnings of acceptance.

So this morning when I got on the computer I let myself truly experience the emotions by watching tributes to both Heath and Brad. Yes, I cried and smiled as I saw the familiar faces on the screen in roles I loved. I listened to their words in interviews and the songs played on tribute pieces compiled by so many on YouTube. I let myself feel the grief of knowing that these images, still or moving were the only ones left, their legacy. Of course Dark Knight has yet to be released, and this will cause a new wave of sadness and maybe anger.

The stages of grief are fluid. They are repeated and recycled until time allows otherwise. I have friends who think I am foolish, ridiculous and childish for caring at all. They certainly do not take me seriously and I usually try to avoid discussing these people with them because they say things purely out of ignorance and it simply angers me and makes me wonder how people could be so heartless.

I know that I am perhaps extra sensitive and that I cannot judge others for what they feel. However through the use of this tool, my trusty blog I can express my feelings freely and not care if I am judged to be overly sentimental or foolish. I love film and I love actors. So here is my tribute to a young man who shined on screen and whose light dimmed tragically early.


HEATH LEDGER TRIBUTE – IN MEMORY

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Sunday special: T.I. and why I like rap.


T.I. – Whatever You Like

The video above is the latest from rapper T.I. This young man currently has a hit disc Paper Trail and has been on several talk shows such as Chelsea Lately (hilarious) and Tyra Banks (horrendous) among others. The song he sings is uplifting and deals with love, has a cute, catchy tune and shows off his other trademark, his very appealing look. He is a triple threat in that he can sing, write music, act and look great doing it all. Women LOVE him and the second of his two No. 1 singles features Rihanna another stunner.

On the flip side to Tip (his real name) is a former pimp, called the “rubber-band man” for wearing rubber bands around his wrists in order to keep all the money he made selling women organized. He was serving his house arrest sentence when he wrote the disc that is now a massive selling hit. Shortly he will be serving out a sentence of one year and one day in prison for possession of numerous machine guns. T.I. is twenty-eight years old and has six children, three with the woman he is currently with.

Watching the video and seeing this charming and attractive guy sing a Cinderella song with a sweet message and great tune, makes me feel several emotions simultaneously. First there is the attraction which can be blinding. Then there is this feeling after learning a few basic facts that this young man is making good, paying his debt to society and I feel proud of how far he has come. At the same time, seeing his rubber bands still prominently worn on the wrists makes me wonder whether he is glorifying his past? The newer charges and impending jail term seem so reckless for someone who is on top of his game. Why the machine guns now? The lawyers that his success can pay for are the best and yet he still got time, begging the question, what else was he charged with and what kind of deal was made?

T.I. has clearly seen a lot in his twenty eight years. Living as both a criminal and a star with an extensive entourage one might think he will stay on the straight and narrow. However, success can make the ego so delusional as to empower the individual to develop a sense of invincibility.  What’s in store for T.I. is impossible to predict, yet I am curious enough to pay attention to this talented hustler as he navigates stardom.

King

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The Academy Awards: A Love Story


repost from the archives:

There he was in his old Cadillac speeding into the wild. He was  heading as far away as the clunker would take him “Maybe Portland,  Juno, or Seattle,” he thought as the miles pulled him away from her for the last time.  This was his only chance and he needed no golden compass to understand that there will be blood if he ever dare return. 

There was a time he would have travelled across the universe, fought men and beasts that might dare try to keep them apart.  And now,  again they were reunited by a chance encounter.  Elizabeth saw him and her eyes opened wide she smiled and whispered “my love” the way she did when they were young and he was enchanted

Like an august rush, they allowed themselves to plunge back to a different time.  They made love like the savages they were, hungry for the past they had nearly forgotten. That golden age when he looked like an old fashioned american gangster and she was as lovely and fresh as a rose.

As he drove faster the feelings of sadness turned to anger.  He thought about the war/dance they had willingly engaged in.  He hated himself for not realizing right away that there was no country for old men in the life she led. They were counterfeits of their younger selves.  Transformers who thought that they could reclaim their bliss, even for a moment. Yet that time was “gone baby, gone” he said aloud snapping him back to the road ahead.

All he could think was “I am not there,”  and that was enough to keep him moving like a mad man driving a taxi to the dark side.  He felt possessed, a sicko feverish and no end in siteAt night when his body grew tired and his mind dim, he would pull into a motel and rest, but now he just wanted to keep moving towards what he saw as his only chance for atonement.

Copyright ©2008  Veronica  Romm

To see some of these videos and visit an amazing blog for CGI, and much more in the world of animation and film visit Zeb’s blog

http://www.oscars.org/

http://www.oscars.org/80academyawards/nominees/index.html


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