Film Notes: Oaks to premiere '365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley'


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The documentary "365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley," which will have its world premiere in State College Dec. 27, will be shown at 3 p.m. Dec. 29 at the Oaks Theater in Oakmont. Tickets, $12, must be purchased in advance through 365daysthefilm.com.

It chronicles the period starting with the 2012 football season and, its makers say, focuses on the impact of the Jerry Sandusky scandal across State College. "365 Days" uses challenges faced by the Nittany Lions football team and fans as a symbol of the tensions and triumphs of the larger community.

The movie attempts to explore issues around conformity, justice and the role of the media, which descended on the university and town in the wake of Sandusky being charged and then found guilty of 45 counts of child sex abuse. He is serving a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years.

That scandal led to the departure of legendary football coach Joe Paterno, university president Graham Spanier and others in November 2011. Paterno died in January 2012 at age 85 of complications from lung cancer.

"365 Days" is directed by Erik Proulx, who made the shorts "Lemonade" and "Lemonade: Detroit," and produced by Eric Porterfield who also worked on "The Joe We Know," in which 70 lettermen from five decades talked about what impact the "grand experiment" had on their lives and family members.

"The Joe We Know" had been intended as a thank you to the coach for a belated birthday party. Paterno didn't live to see that film but his family, alumni and others did.

"365 Days" interviews, among others, sportscaster Bob Costas, Mr. Spanier, students, business people, professors and Penn State alumni.

Fetterman applauds drama

Mayor John Fetterman isn't exactly an unbiased observer when it comes to Braddock or "Out of the Furnace." But that's the point behind an eloquent essay he wrote for Variety in which he makes a passionate plea on behalf of the Scott Cooper film.

He says he feared the gritty drama might struggle to find a wider audience at the box office, although certainly not because of its cast, led by Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson and Casey Affleck.

The mayor worried "Furnace" would be a "tough watch for how it unflinchingly reflects an unbearably dark, unforgiving reality that is nearly devoid of possibility. This is the time of the year where folks want to see the good citizens of Bedford Falls save George Bailey, or Charlie Brown and the gang love a little tree no one else wanted.

"Understandably, many would rather not set foot into a bleak world where most of the social contracts in America are void and rusted through," he writes in Variety.

"If the story of a Braddock, and towns like her, is indeed worth telling, there couldn't be a more eloquent, forceful and honest interpretation than what Mr. Cooper and his three leads have delivered in 'Out of the Furnace.' "

The malevolent Harlan DeGroat, played by Mr. Harrelson, has nothing on the real-life criminals and Mr. Affleck's Iraq War veteran could be seen as a tribute "to a friend who served a brutal 15 months in Iraq, coping with PTSD and freshly rejected for a menial job paying $9 an hour." Mr. Fetterman, like others, celebrated Mr. Bale's virtuosity, too.

He closed his piece this way: "It's unlikely the opinions of a third-rate, small-town mayor carry much weight with those who make movie award nominations. However, it truly would be an injustice for this film, director and these actors not to be formally recognized on behalf of the Braddock community they have so powerfully presented."

Comments so far appear to be universally supportive of Braddock and surrounding communities, the mayor and the film.

First TFIOS poster out

The first poster from "The Fault in Our Stars" shows Shailene Woodley, with short hair and a cannula delivering oxygen to her character's damaged lungs, along with Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters. They're lying, blissfully it appears, on the grass.

The movie was shot in Pittsburgh in late summer and early fall, with a few days in Amsterdam, and is scheduled to be released in early June. The poster's tag line, "One Sick Love Story," has stopped some who wonder about its appropriateness given that the teen characters have cancer but the tone of the book isn't typical, either.

Pittsburgh connections

* Canonsburg native Mark Livolsi, a graduate of Canon McMillan High School and Penn State, served as film editor for "Saving Mr. Banks." He is the son of Donna and the late Chuck Livolsi, a Pittsburgh Press illustrator, and was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2008.

Mr. Livolsi, who used to borrow his dad's 8mm camera and shoot little movies at a nearby baseball field, wasn't sure what he wanted to do as an incoming freshman. He arrived at Penn State with plans to become an aerospace engineer but met with a counselor and then told his parents, who were with him: "I'm going with film. I have five minutes to get to the Film Department."

He later moved to New Jersey to join his future wife and worked on some Woody Allen films as an assistant film editor before relocating to Pasadena. His credits as film editor include "The Devil Wears Prada," "Marley & Me," "We Bought a Zoo" and, now, "Saving Mr. Banks."

Mark and his wife, Maria, have two children. Yes, his mother plans to catch "Saving Mr. Banks," the story of Walt Disney and "Mary Poppins" writer P.L. Travers, this weekend. "I'm very excited for him. He's worked very hard to get to where he is," Mrs. Livolsi said this week.

* "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," produced by Ambridge native Tom Pellegrini (father Mike was a Post-Gazette staff writer), is scheduled to air on "Independent Lens" at 10 p.m. Monday on WQED.

It's a documentary about the oldest chef awarded three stars, the highest grade given, by the Michelin guide. Sukiyabashi Jiro is in a Tokyo subway station, serves only sushi and draws patrons who make reservations a month to a year in advance and pay 30,000 yen or roughly $360 each for 20 pieces. Jiro Ono was 85 at the time of filming and professed how much he loved his job.

Film Registry grows by 25

The National Film Registry of the Library of Congress has added 25 motion pictures, including "Mary Poppins" featuring Julie Andrews' Oscar-winning performance and John Ford's "The Quiet Man," starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.

Other notables on the list: "Pulp Fiction," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" "Forbidden Planet," "The Right Stuff," "Judgment at Nuremberg" and Michael Moore's "Roger & Me." To nominate a film for next year's registry, www.loc.gov/film.


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