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a la Mod:
D'Arcy describes the way the film captures events as they unfold at Penn State:
"Bar-Lev watches the university community witness news of Sandusky’s 2012 conviction on multiple counts of sexual abuse. Soon head football coach [Joe] Paterno (Sandusky’s boss), is sacked, along with the university president and other officials. The youth response on campus is a riot in which news trucks are overturned and property is destroyed.
"The mob reaction to disturbing news is at the core of Bar-Lev’s film, in which football fever fuels group fenzy in Happy Valley. Critics of Joe Paterno (nicknamed ‘JoePa’) are insulted and threatened when they express concerns publicly, as police stand by. This is extreme football fervor. It would be hard to find a Catholic congregation in the US that rallied behind a bishop who turned the other way after seeing evidence of sexual abuse. Football, as we see, is another story.
"Football as religion is a truism in the US. In Bar-Lev’s film, football as identity and profit takes over. The university searches for life beyond the revered Paterno, who dies in 2012 of a cancer that’s diagnosed the day after his firing. A popular statue of Paterno – a bronze figure of sports kitsch that was a tourist destination – is destroyed by the university, which also expunges the former coach’s name from the university’s history, like that of a purged Soviet official under Stalin. As the crowds pour back into the football stadium, Penn State is busy marketing a cult of personality for its new coach.
"Bar Lev’s scenes of crowd melees are frightening, but his film contains intimate poignant testimony that is equally troubling. Jerry Sandusky’s stoic adopted son, Matt, tells a sad story of growing up in the squalid digs of a desperately poor family and gravitating toward a program for poor boys headed by the coach, who gave the children food, gifts, and mandated sex."
And that’s a good reason why Bar-Lev’s next film, “Happy Valley,” is about the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal. But it’s not that Bar-Lev is particularly interested in Sandusky.
“I’m more interested in how we relate to Jerry Sandusky, the mythological nature of Sandusky and (former Penn State football coach) Joe Paterno,” he says. “We call the film ‘Happy Valley’ because we’re interested in how the town is reckoning with itself in the aftermath of the scandal.”
McKenna, who as a child had greatly admired Paterno, tells Tully, "This project is too important not to be as well informed as possible. Not unexpectedly, what I’ve found is there’s three sides to every story. There is no black and white. JoePa was a great, great man, who did so much good for a such a long period of time. But that greatness turned out to hurt him in the end because he set the bar so incredibly high in everything that he did. And that’s where the tragedy lies."
Here are the last few paragraphs of Tully's article:
While he said he couldn’t talk specifically about what will be included in the film, McKenna said “the crazy thing” about Sandusky is how much good he did for kids. McKenna acknowledges he might be “crucified” for saying that, but he believes it’s the truth.
“Second Mile was a huge endeavor that raised hundreds of millions for disadvantaged kids,” McKenna said. “That’s what makes this scandal so sad and heartbreaking.”
On the other hand, McKenna said he hopes he will be able to talk extensively with the Paterno family. He believes the family will one day open themselves up to him and his Hollywood team, “once they see how fair we’ve been to Joe’s incredible legacy.”
McKenna said he will always have the highest respect for Paterno and his wife, Sue. One quote that McKenna often thinks about is when Paterno, who raised five kids in a modest home a few blocks from campus, told his children they can swim just as well in the community pool as a private one.
“They were on a first-name basis with everyone in town — Joe even knew the cheerleaders’ names. They built a library — giving $3 million of their own money,” McKenna said. “Their love and generosity inspires me as I raise my three children. Because that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?”
De Palma: Well, it’s indeed a tragic story, and it’s a part Al wants to play. I mean, that’s how it all started. You know, and it’s a great honor to direct Al. He’s, you know, one of the greatest actors of his generation. So, in order to tell it in a fair way, I mean, it’s sort of like Lawrence Of Arabia. Everybody has a different view on what happened. So the idea of the script is to try and represent each view equally, and let the audience try to figure out what exactly happened and who’s culpable.
On August 29, Vanity Fair posted an interview with De Palma by Jason Guerrasio, who also asked De Palma about Happy Valley, and about working with Pacino again. "It’s a fantastic part for him," De Palma told Guerrasio. "It’s almost like a King Lear–type of part. When you look at something like Scarface you see the incredible performance he gives. It’s always exciting for a director to work with someone like that." Guerrasio then asked if he and Pacino had talked yet about how he's going to play Paterno. "Oh yeah," De Palma replied, "we've exchanged extensive e-mails. It has begun."
College coaches -- even the good ones -- have the power of third world despots and come to enjoy the authority and control provided by their positions. Pressman certainly understands this and describes Paterno's story as a "Greek tragedy." His past experience in handling films with scandalous characters has worked out well, as he proved with Reversal of Fortune, where they told Claus Von Bulow's story from the perspective of the victim -- his wife, Sunny. According to Pressman, the Paterno story poses similar challenges, but nothing they can't handle. "It's been many years since I've seen Brian (De Palma) so excited," said Pressman.
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