Beliefnet
Life at the Movies

Of all the films I have seen, I have seen one per-cent faith-based films. It is not that many.

Since I have watched so few, did I become tired of them? The answer to this is that I was ‘raised’ mostly on the mainstream fare. For a while, I did not know Christian films existed.

Even so, I would not have easily accessed faith-based films in the mainstream because they were not there.

When I got older, I went to where I could find them.  I have watched faith based films because they are faith-affirming, they affirm faith, or Christian faith is in the affirmative. I listen to Christian music for the same reason.

Of all the other films I have watched, few manage to touch on the faith theme as faith films do.

Some things in faith films stand out more strongly than in other films I have watched. In those other films I might have to think more deeply about what they are about to find the essential theme. Those are the small challenges.

Faith-based films tend to leave me with something of a take away point. They are easier to digest.

I like most of the faith-based films I have watched except if the film’s quality sunk it or it may have been too controversial.

The best quality faith-based film I have watched is Christian documentary Gods of the New Age (1984) because it strikes me as authoritative, from content to narration. It’s compelling. Some other recommends of faith-based films I have seen are Mother Teresa (1986), Romero (1989), and Son of God (2014)

Inspirational drama Miracles from Heaven (2016, USA) is life affirming and leaves a positive effect.

The Beam family’s story is the kind that may engage the skeptics as well as the faithful because it is about a miracle though the former may be more critical.

However, Miracles from Heaven is based on a true story. It happened around 2011.

Anna Beam, the middle daughter of Christy and Kevin Beam, was diagnosed with a complicated disorder of the intestines. The disorder caused her a lot of pain and discomfort. Then, things happen.

Consequences of Anna’s pain

Christy and Kevin–played by Jennifer Garner and Martin Henderson–go through their dark night of the soul.

Christy gets an inevitable comment: that there must be a sin in Christy’s life to cause such a horrible thing to happen to her daughter. As a consequence, regular church-goer Christy does not go back to church, but Pastor Scott takes an interest to bring her back.

Christy Beam is hurting, though, and going back to church is not going to be on her agenda, but Pastor Scott sounds like a pastor you can trust, with good humor, and genuineness. Kevin says she shouldn’t let go of God.

Then, Anna Beam falls down a hole in a tree. The consequences are not as horrible as you’d expect.  That is when a miracle happens to change their lives around.

Jennifer Garner as Christy Beam is the anchor of Miracles from Heaven in the first half. With Garner in the middle, the film is almost a dramatic powerhouse. What makes up the second half are kindnesses: a kindly and amusing specialist doctor in Boston who makes a way for Christy in his heavy schedule, an angelic-like stranger played by Queen Latifah and other kindly moments.  You can’t deny the genuineness of the story and Miracles from Heaven is ultimately life affirming and positive.


Notes:

Miracles from Heaven is now available on DVD/Blu-ray and on demand.

Featuring: Jennifer Garner (Christy Beam), Kylie Rogers (Anna Beam), Martin Henderson (Kevin Beam), Brighton Sharbino (Abbie Beam), Courtney Fansler (Adelynn Beam), Queen Latifah (Angela), Eugenio Derbez (Dr. Nurko), John Carroll Lynch (Pastor Scott)

Patricia Riggen (Director), from Christy Beam’s book, Randy Brown adapted book into screenplay

There is a very high faith-based quotient in this true story, 2015’s Woodlawn.

The Jesus movement

Woodlawn depicts the Jesus movement in Birmingham, Alabama, circa the 1970’s. People were converting to Jesus. In Woodlawn, the movement’s scale seems amazing.

In Birmingham and at Woodlawn High School there are race problems and segregation issues.

The school chaplain Hank Erwin, who is straight talking and inspiring, turns the football team to faith. The team’s faith in Jesus unites and helps them conquer race problems and is a witness to the coach.

The community is also turning to Jesus, which is changing the community to be loving instead of racist.

‘Touchdown’ Tony, their outstanding player, is inspiring others because of his faith and on-field prowess.

Getting a film about the Jesus movement, a film that was released to theaters (in the fall of 2015 and now on DVD), is pretty rare, and is more the vicinity of the faith-based movement of films, which Woodlawn belongs to. It is not an in-depth documentary treatment or a document, but focuses on the faith aspect first and foremost. Woodlawn’s purpose is to bring people into the faith.

It is also about football, racism, and relationships. Yet none of these are a main focus.

As drama, it’s slow burning.

The opening race related montage is engaging and well produced.

The camera work capturing on field football is eye catching.

The coach’s conversion speech in church is moving.

The pastor’s preaching in church (played by DeVon Franklin) is inspirational and resonates.

Sean Astin, as school chaplain Hank Erwin, has presence. The former Lord of the Rings actor holds his own.


Notes:

Sean Astin (Hank Erwin), Caleb Castille (Tony Nathan), Nic Bishop (Tandy Gerelds)

Directors: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin

Do giants need their own lifestyle magazine?

They have their own way of doing things, that’s why. Giants have their own style, but they might need advice on doing life better. The Big Friendly Giant is a case in point.

Lifestyle

The Big Friendly Giant, in the fantasy family film The BFG (2016, out now on DVD), lives off an unpronounceable vegetable. That’s all he has to eat. We can see he isn’t getting a balanced diet. Would a section on ‘giant’s diet’ in a giant lifestyle magazine help? With hints: where to find more and better food?

The BFG is also a lonely soul. Well, he may be lonely. Just because he lives alone does not mean he is lonely. But he could be lonely. What about a section on how to make and keep friends.

Aren’t most giants bullies?

What about hints on a better social life, tailored to giants?

The BFG isn’t a bully, but his neighbors who are giants are. If so, they may need serious help in being friendly. Those giants who are bullies would need a section on how to get along with your neighbor.

For gentle giants like The BFG there should be a column on ‘what to do when giants get mean’.

A good friend

However, though all these things may help the BFG somewhat, he does not need a magazine about being a good friend.

He may have a bad diet. No one is knocking on his door to come over for a good time.

He may be bullied. He may be ostracized.

But he’s a good friend and he’s kind and gentle.  No matter what the BFG looks like and sounds like, in all its tarnished glory, he’s genuine.

The BFG is the kind of friend we all would like to have, even if he does not look it and even if he slurs his words too much. Could be that being a good friend is all the BFG has to give, but that is a lot.

Previous Posts