Al Pacino as Joe Paterno? Sure, but Should a Movie Even Be Made?
Back in September, word got out that a Joe Paterno movie was in the making, and that Al Pacino had been cast as the venerated-then-disgraced head coach. At that point, the movie was just being shopped around, so nobody had ponied up the money to produce it and begin shooting, and there was the chance that this idea would get folded up and put into storage for a much later date, if to be seen at all.
Well, we've got a producer and director now, according to the Associated Press (via Newsday), so apparently it's a go. Here's more information:
Producer Edward R. Pressman confirms Brian De Palma will direct "Happy Valley," the tentative title of the film, based on Joe Posnanski's best-seller "Paterno."
"'Happy Valley' reunites the 'Scarface' and 'Carlito's Way' team of De Palma and Pacino for the third time and I can't think of a better duo to tell this story of a complex, intensely righteous man who was brought down by his own tragic flaw," Pressman said in a statement. No start or release dates were given for the film.
Don't expect this thing in theaters by the kickoff of the 2013 season or anything; movies take a long time to make between the filming, editing, planning and everything else. If they don't even have a start date announced yet, we're not seeing this thing before 2014. Just so you know.
Here's the thing, though: In American culture, one of the largest possible symbols of status is a biopic. If someone makes a movie about a person's life, that person has clearly "made it" as an important person, and that movie will generally be regarded as the final word among popular opinion about him or her.
Will you go to a Joe Paterno movie?
But let's back up.
The Joe Paterno saga is still ongoing, even well after his passing a year ago.
Paterno supporters have been asking for more time so the "truth can come out," and that is not a wholly unreasonable request. It is true that Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have not had their day in court for charges of perjury, obstruction, conspiracy and failure to properly report suspected abuse, and they are every bit as central to the coverup of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal as Paterno has been accused of being.
So if opinions about Paterno should wait for those proceedings and are otherwise premature, what in the world does that make an entire feature film about him that's evidently also going forward before whatever facts in those cases come out?
Furthermore, according to the reports from back in September, the movie will be based on Joe Posnanski's book about Paterno, when Posnanski was there with him as the scandal unfolded. You know that book, the one that was universally slammed by reviewers.
So, this is probably not going to be a particularly satisfying movie for anyone who's already got even half an opinion about Paterno (which is to say, everyone). There's only one way to a satisfactory movie—one that'll please the majority of people who see it.
Ditch Brian De Palma and hire Quentin Tarantino to direct it.
Seriously, we already know from Inglorious Basterds (spoiler alert, but come on, the movie came out years ago) that Tarantino has no problems with rewriting history. And we also know that Al Pacino has no qualms with an automatic weapon in his hand for the sake of cinema.
So, if Tarantino's got this movie, we all know it ends with Pacino as Paterno blowing Sandusky's face off with a machine gun as the Lasch Football Building burns around them.
There. That's your movie. That's really what everyone wants to see. Anything less will be as disappointing as the truth it's based off of.
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