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Paterno


Revolting.

Astonishing.

Just two of the words that kept running through my mind on a loop watching the travesty of inaction portrayed in the new film PATERNO.

We all know the story of one of Paterno's coaching staff, Jerry Sandusky and his long legacy of sexually molesting young men and leveraging the power of his position and influence to gain access to the boys.

The film focuses on Joe Paterno, the college football coach with the most wins in history and how the Sandusky story swirls around him and eventually takes him out.

Al Pacino can be one of our loudest, most over-the-top actors (Scarface) and one of our most studied and quiet (think "The Godfather Part II"). As Paterno, he paints a picture of an old man whose been in the job too long, whose solitary focus on next Saturday's game was more important that the miscarriage of justice showering with boys down the hallway.

Kathy Baker (Picket Fences) is Joe's wife, Jim Johnson is creepy but kept on the fringes of the film as Sandusky and Greg Grunberg (Heroes) comes off best as Paterno's son Scott, who seems to be the only one to realize just how evil Sandusky's actions were.

He becomes our voice in the film, asking his Dad what he knew and why he didn't say anything.

Riley Keough (It Comes At Night, Mad Max:Fury Road) is very good as young reporter Sarah Ganim, who first breaks the story and digs deep enough to find the facts that Penn State's senior staff and very possibly Paterno himself knew a lot more about Sandusky's history of rape and abuse then they let on.

Director Barry Levinson (Diner, Rainman) is a master, building up the reveals one after another in his portrait of a school, a town and a fan base more concerned with their legacy and win/loss record than the lives of the young boys suffering unimaginable horror for years at the hands of Sandusky.

Pacino has a tough role and handles it well, generating more disgust than sympathy. Was Joe so old and out of touch that he didn't even know what "sodomy" was when he read it in a report? Was he so focused on the next game that he let this go on with support for Sandusky long after several incidents?

The last few minutes leave little doubt on the true length this was allowed to go on without pursuing it.

When a man's legacy is more important than the innocence of children, we have a problem

Paterno is riveting and well acted and paints an ugly picture of priorities in our world. It gets a B.

If you want to see a truly great film on the same subject, with the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church defining the ultimate depth of misplaced priorities and allegiance to an institution over the lives of abused children, see 2015's "Spotlight". Its depiction of the real life Boston Globe story uncovering years of child molestation is startling, brilliantly told and a must see.

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