Film Review: 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

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

“What can be worse than the total agony of being in love?”

In the spirit of the holiday season…

“What can be worse than the total agony of being in love?”As spoken by an eleven year old from a line in the film, Love Actually. If you pause for one second and think about it, isn’t love the absolute worst thing ever? I mean it is sheer torture yet it is vital and what we all live for ultimately. Some say it’s not Love but Sex that we do all the work for i.e. Sigmund Freud, but I don’t think he had that one quite figured out.

The absence of love can create the most distressing feelings inside. Sadness, loneliness, the shallow feeling of hating the couple walking hand in hand in front of you on the street. What a nightmare. Yet when in love that couple barely exists for the focus is not on them, but on your own hand in that of your loved ones. Total nonsense I think, turns us into absolute jerks doesn’t it?What is it about love that can have you raging in anger and reeling from joy in the matter of minutes? How is it that we, seemingly rational human beings allow ourselves such beastly behavior? I know its chemical and I know we can’t help it, but why do we put ourselves through it time and again?

Why do we let love in, and then let it ravage us so completely often leaving us in tatters and destroyed? Then as time passes we consciously (or not) do it all over again, risking the same awful result? As adults are we not to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. When we touch the super hot radiator, don’t we actively avoid it so as not to burn again?

What makes love different? I want to know what you think. I am clearly at a loss because I am responsible for the horrid behavior I speak of. Please share your thoughts with me. Maybe together we can solve this Love thing once and for all? Highly unlikely but worth a shot, no?

End Quote

” Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. How on earth can you explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love? Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with that special girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

Albert Einstein

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

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.


AddThis Social Bookmark Button

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

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Music, film, and poetry in perfect unison.

The Ballad of Lucy Jordan/Thelma and Louise clip

I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it as I watched Thelma and Louise. There are songs/movies that provoke feelings that can overwhelm you and so you listen/watch them when you know you want to go to those places. The lyrics, poetic and gritty, combined with Faithfulls voice are simply mesmerizing. It is a girl thing, and I rarely do girly. I have included the lyrics. Beautiful poetry from an extraordinary woman who lived the rock dream/nightmare and survived to tell.


by Marianne Faithfull


The morning sun touched lightly on the eyes of Lucy Jordan.


In a white suburban bedroom in a white suburban town


As she lay there ‘neath the covers,


dreaming of a thousand lovers


till the world turned to orange


and the room went spinning round.


At the age of thirty-seven


she realized she’d never ride through Paris


in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair.


So she let the phone keep ringing,


and she sat there softly singing


pretty nursery rhymes she’d memorized


in her daddy’s easy chair.


Her husband, he’s off to work;


and the kids are off to school.


And there are, oh, so many ways for her to spend the day.


She could clean the house for hours,


or rearrange the flowers


Or run naked through the shady street,


screaming all the way.


At the age of thirty-seven


she realized she’d never ride through Paris


in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair.


So she let the phone keep ringing


as she sat there softly singing


Pretty nursery rhymes shed memorized


in her daddy’s easy chair.


The evening sun touched gently on the eyes of Lucy Jordan


on the roof top where she climbed when all the laughter grew too loud


and she bowed and curtsied to the man


who reached and offered her his hand,


as he led her down to the long white car that waited past the crowd.


At the age of thirty-seven


she knew she’d found forever


as she rode along through Paris


with the warm wind in her hair…


AddThis Social Bookmark Button