Updated: Aug 19, 2020
Monsters and Men
o Story: The film is not based on true events, but it was inspired by the killing of Eric Garner. It starts with a white cop killing a black man named Darius as he sells cigarettes on the street corner. One of the protagonists, Many, captures the killing on his phone. The film follows Many and two other protagonists as they wrestle with the outcomes of Darius’s death at the hands of the police.
o Rating: R (language and violence)
o Year: 2018
o Gospel Moments: This film wrestles with tough questions on race, police profiling, violence, and what to do when faced with moral the dilemmas presented to us in a world not as it should be. Two of the three protagonists rise to the challenge, face their fears, and sacrifice their own good for the pursuit of justice while one falls back in line to protect his own interests. The sacrifices displayed in the film point beyond themselves to the great sacrifice of Christ who gave up all the riches of heaven to come and bear the justice that we deserved so that we might receive the mercy that reconciles us to God and one another.
o Where to Watch: Hulu
o Story: Just Mercy is based on the true story of Bryan Stevenson as he sets up a law firm in Alabama to fight for the justice of those condemn to die on death row. One of his first cases was Walter McMillian; sentenced to death in 1987 after being convicted of the murder of a young girl, despite an exorbitant amount of evidence to his innocence. The story mainly follows Bryan as he fights for Walter McMillian’s release, but it’s more than a court drama. The movie speaks to the racial tensions of our country and a system that works in favor of the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor.
o Rating: PG-13 (some physical alterations and racial epithets)
o Year: 2020
o Gospel Moments: The film is aptly named as the protagonist fights for his clients to receive mercy in an unjust system of law. The injustice that placed Walter McMillian on death row for a crime he did not commit reflects the unjust and evil world that placed the innocent Savior on a sinner’s cross. This was the ultimate injustice: The Creator of the world innocent, but condemn by His creation. Yet, through this atrocity God brought mercy and justice together, reconciliation offered to the world that rebelled against Him. Jesus willingly took upon Himself the just punishment for sin that we deserved so that we might receive the mercy of God, a mercy we in no way deserved, and He rose from the dead, defeating the powers of evil and darkness that lay behind the sin stain systems of today. Only through the cross does the justice that we long for and the mercy we need come together. Bryan Stevenson (played by Michael B. Jordan) sums it up nicely at the end of the film: “We all need justice, we all need mercy, we all need a little unmerited grace.”
o Where to Watch: Amazon Prime (free for a limited time)
o Story: The movie is based on the book of the same name. It follows Skeeter (Emma Stone) after she returns from college to Jacksonville Mississippi to find that she no longer fits in. She has the dream of becoming a writer and convinces two black maids (others soon to follow) to share their stories of what it’s like to work for white families during the oppressive Jim Crow era. While the film does not always deal with the racial injustices of its setting as seriously as it should the acting is superb and the characters show moments of real grace and courage in the face of sinister hatred.
o Rating: PG-13 (thematic material)
o Year: 2011
o Gospel Moments: The Help shows the immense courage and grace that was needed to survive for those struggling under the oppression of the Jim Crow era. The two maids played by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer were able to bear the weight of the sin done against them by the white families they worked for without turning to hate, but instead reaching out with love for their community, white and black. Their gentleness, courage, and compassion, a compassion shown even to their enemies, reflects the great love of Christ who gave away all to save us though we were His enemies. The acts of love by the black maids of The Help, which serves to reconcile those who learn to accept them as equals in a world otherwise divided along racial and cultural lines, reflects the great love of God in Christ who reconciled us to Himself and one another through the cross.
o Where To Watch: Netflix
When They See Us
o Story: After a night of carousing at the park five minority teenagers from Harlem are falsely accused of attacking and raping a young white woman. Despite mistreatment by the interrogating officers, missing and miss-managed evidence, faulty confessions, and an unhealthy desire for justice the teens are all condemned. After the trail the show follows the teens as they and their families deal with the repercussions of injustice until the real attacker’s confession exonerates them.
o Rating: R (violence, sex, language, disturbing images, drama)
o Year: 2019
o Gospel Moments: When They See Us reveals a gross mismanagement of our system of law unduly effected by prejudice and pride. This is the justice of this world, which far too often favors the powerful over and against the weak. Yet, this is not the justice of God’s Kingdom. The justice that God brings is righteous, everlasting, and on behalf of the poor and marginalized. When the Harlem 5 were finally exonerated from a brutal crime they did not commit it was merely a foreshadowing of the justice that Christ will bring when He returns to set all things right. In the light of Christ and His Kingdom come and coming every secret sin will be revealed, every lie laid bare, and every truth will point back to Him and give Him the glory.
o Where To Watch: Netflix