These days, only 40% of the UK's population considers themselves religious. This has created a notable shift in the way we treat death and had led to a rise in unconventional funerals. This... See full summary »
Fabricating credentials to score a last-ditch job as a high school guidance counsellor, a boozing, drug-addled former child star becomes an improbable hit with his students by dispensing the worst advice possible.
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John 'Concrete' Hong has one night to fight his way across a violent city and rescue the one he loves. After eviction from their apartment, John and Bethany Hong are forced to live on the streets of Union, a violent city where street gangs control the lower blocks. When John journeys to the bottom of the city to find work, the WCC gang corners him. After fighting his way out, he becomes the ... See full summary »
The town of State College, the home of Penn State University, has long been known as Happy Valley, and its iconic figure for more than 40 years was Joe Paterno, the head coach of the school's storied football team. His program was lauded for not only its success on the field but also its students' achievements in the classroom. And Paterno took on mythic national stature as "Saint Joe." But then, in November 2011, everything came crashing down. Longtime Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse, setting off a firestorm of accusations about who failed to protect the children of Happy Valley. Was Sandusky's abuse an "open secret" in the town? Did Coach Paterno and the Penn State administration value their football program more than the lives of Sandusky's victims? Filmed over the course of the year after Sandusky's arrest as key players in the scandal agreed to share their stories, Happy Valley deconstructs the story we think we know to uncover a much ...Written by
Sundance Film Festival
"St. Joe": What Penn State, College Station, and the world called Joe Paterno before the Jerry Sandusky indictment.
No one ever called my town, Columbus, "Happy Valley," but when Ohio State defeats Michigan, it's a happy valley indeed. That euphoria over a football program as successful as Penn State under head coach Joe Paterno with its spell cast so widely is the engine that drives a community to miss the signs of crime such as assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's abuse of young boys.
Amir Bar-Lev's documentary, Happy Valley, covers the historical bases of Sandusky's conviction on multiple counts and Paterno's eventual firing (and death a few months later) for not doing more to bring justice for the abused boys. Even Sandusky's adopted son, Matt, who is the most talking head in the doc, waits until boys have testified against Sandusky to confess he lied—he was abused.
That confession is at the heart of this slowly competent documentary, for it encapsulates the ambivalence of a community so mesmerized by football and its cast of characters that it takes a while to acknowledge some of the actors have feet of clay. Sandusky is easy—he was seen in the showers with boys—but Paterno, the beatified coach (the statue on campus is now gone, as if he were Hussein or Stalin), challenges their understanding of a morality that extends beyond just legally telling a superior about an incident, as Paterno did.
Bar-Lev's is as even-handed as could be: the media is held up to harsh light with its aggressive, predatory pursuit of the sensational; the NCAA is never fair enough; and the University, from president on down, can't get it just right.
And so it goes—this well done doc, despite the sometimes vacant talking heads, shows few participants not caught up in the hoopla. It sure makes me think Ohio State's Jim Tressel dust up was just a skirmish in an enduring battle for the hearts and souls of students and the communities where they live.
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