How many movies have you seen this year? The month is almost over, so at least one? How many did you see last year? Was it enough for you to create a TOP 10 list for people to read?
Some of us have more time than others to review films. Rev. Dr. Edward McNulty, pastor of the Blue Ball Presbyterian Church (south of Dayton, Ohio), has authored three film books and has time to be the editor/reviewer of “Visual Parables.” Film and Faith seem to go hand in hand.
So what movies made his TOP 10 this year? Were there that many religious films? It doesn't seem to be that the movies that make Rev. McNulty's list need to be drenched in faith, but may have some faith-related topics.
Below are the 10 films worthy of being called the year’s “Top 10.” Because the list of readers of my on-line journal “Visual Parables” consists mostly of believers, my criteria are different from those of secular critics whose lists you might have already read. – presbyterianmission.org
This year, his list from 1 to 10 are:
- First Reformed
- Come Sunday
- Won't You Be My Neighbor
- The Hate U Give
- If Beale Street Could Talk
- At Eternity's Gate
- Boy Erased
- Unbroken: Path to Redemption
- On the Basis of Sex
Racism, conversion therapy, women's equality, Mr Rogers? What a variety of topics he covered. Why did these make it to his list?
Artistic excellence is important, but the films on this list do more than entertain us. Some of their makers seek to challenge viewers to uphold values of love and support (think “Lars and the Real Girl”), and some warn us of the dangers of an inhumane set of values (this year’s “The Hate U Give”). A few explore and expand our spirituality, occasionally enhancing our understanding or appreciation of God (“Come Sunday”).
So what did he have to say about his #8 “Boy Erased”
Rated R. 1 John 4:7-8
Based on Garrard Conley’s memoir, this is the story of a fundamentalist Baptist minister’s gay son who underwent conversion therapy when that now regarded pseudo-practice was widely accepted in the evangelical community. The boy soon learns that the tactics at the center include spiritual bullying and instilling fear into the patients, even turning them against the family member who purportedly “caused” them to “choose” the gay lifestyle. His mother slowly changes her view of the Bible, her love for her son overcoming her theology. But what about the father back home? This is a good companion film to “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” which is about a girl forced into a similar clinic.
We have to be cautious when we attach RELIGION. All religions are different and all people within a certain religion are different. When you attack the core foundations of a religion, then do that. But when you lump all people of that faith into your own hate filled bucket, you're spreading hate to those that may be supporting us and working to understand us.
If you go to Rev McNulty's actual full review of Boy Erased, he mentions toward the end:
This is a gripping film, my only criticism being that the script leaves out an important factor that might have helped some audience members understand its issues better. During the heated exchanges between father and son, the minister merely says it is his faith which teaches that homosexuality is a sin. No mention is made of the Bible, that in just a few places supports this view. Unchurched viewers might be led to believe that all Christians believe this, the film never suggesting that a great many Christians no longer accept those passages as authoritative, just as they also no longer regard certain other as authoritative–passages that support slavery, male domination of women, or pre-scientific views of astronomy and biology. Such Scripture passages reflect the outmoded beliefs of the ancient world. *
Despite the above shortcoming, this is a good film for discussing a major problem—the film points out just before the end credits that it is still legal in 36 out of 50 US states to send children to conversion camps, despite the possibility that the often under trained “therapists” can inflict psychological damage on its young inmates—as happens in the film.
There are those in the world of RELIGION that love us, support us, are working to better welcome us into their lives. There are many LGBT citizens practicing religion that are helping to be good representatives within those temples and buildings of worship.