By: Movie Snurb –
Since Easter is in the month of April this year, I thought what a better six pack than Religious films? I didn’t want to do just religious film because let’s be honest, most aren’t very good. Their heart is in the right place with a concise message they want to put out. But the films as a whole aren’t very good. Plus, films that question faith and religion are far more interesting and challenging. In some of these films the characters’ faith is questioned, some of them will question the faith of the audience, and some of these might do both. So here are some of my favorite films that’ll test your faith.
Just released last year, written and directed by the great Paul Schrader, and lead by a brilliant performance by Ethan Hawke, First Reformed follows a Pastor who runs a church that is basically a museum and is owned by the “Mega Church” down the street. One day Hawke is asked to give advice to a man who seems to be hanging on by a thread. He is unraveling because he doesn’t want to bring a child into this world that is slowly dying due to climate change. Hawke begins to grapple with this fact and also the fact that he is dying of some type of cancer. Will God forgive us for what we have done with this planet? Is there a God that would allows this to happen? Do we deserve forgiveness for what we’ve done? These are all valid and terrifying questions that we must ask ourselves after watching this film.
Hill Farmstead Brewery – Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude #2
Brewed in Vermont, this 9.5% alcohol IPA will pair perfectly for this small film you could watch in solitude while you reflect upon the questions being asked by Paul Schrader.
Possibly one of my favorite comedies. Saved! follows Mary (Jena Malone) who goes to a Christian High School and during the summer her boyfriend tells her he thinks he is gay. So, she claims to have a vision of Jesus telling her to sleep with her boyfriend to “save” him. They sleep together and she becomes pregnant. So, to avoid being sent to Hope House where the troubled kids are sent, with the help of a couple of unlikely friends she hides the pregnancy for as long as she can. This film doesn’t question the existence of God, but rather why God would make us all different and then want us to be all the same? Why can’t we just love one another? Why can’t there be gay Christians? These are questions more for the fundamentalist Christians like Mandy Moore in the film. Not only that but the film perfectly shows the hypocritical nature of religion and how Christians can be hypocritical.
Ninkasi Brewing – Prismatic
This delicious fruity and hoppy light beer will pair well with the light sinning happening in this film. Alright, maybe it’s not light sinning, but in the grand scheme of things anything happening in here isn’t so bad.
A Serious Man
Every time I watch this film, I like it more and more. The Coen Brothers seem to have some dark outlook about life and why we are here. A Serious Man is about Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a successful professor at a university whose life begins to fall apart. Then just when things begin to look up everything is turned upside down. It’s a harsh outlook that maybe there is no God and there is no reason for anything. Life is just chaos and we’re just people bumbling around until we shuffle off. It’s a bleak take on life, but as always, it’s peppered with the Coens’ signature comedy in the midst of tragedy. Who’s to say that there is no meaning to life? I’d like to think we are here for a reason, but who knows?
Ghostfish Brewing Co. – Vanishing Point Pale Ale
Another beer chosen by the name to pair with the film. This new take on the original pale ale will go well as you contemplate whether or not there is any reason for anything that happens in this world. Second thought, maybe have a couple if you’re thinking about that.
Spotlight tells the true story about the investigative journalism team Spotlight that works for The Boston Globe. They begin to tackle the accusations against the Catholic church that they knew about the sexual abuse priests in the area were doing and covered it up by moving the priests around allowing for this predatory behavior to endure. They find out that this wasn’t limited to Boston, the church had been doing this throughout the entire world. This is a powerful film that will stick with you for a long time, probably longer if you’re Catholic. It’s an undeniable truth, it’s horrifying to think about, and if you’re Catholic it could really turn your world upside down. If you’re not Catholic, it makes you think what other religions might be doing a similar thing. Could my church be doing this? Could my church be covering up similar acts? Is religion really good for us if it allows such abhorrent behavior? It’s a lot to process and shows why this film won Best Picture.
Samuel Adams Brewery – Rebel Grapefruit IPA
When it comes to Boston films it’s hard to pick any other brewery than Samuel Adams. I decided to go with the Rebel IPA since the Spotlight team is going against a major part of the community that they provide the news too. It took major courage for everyone to come forward and tell their story and courage for the Boston Globe to report on the abuse.
Another very new film, but it was one of my favorites of last year. Ronnit (Rachel Weisz) has been shunned by her religious community that she grew up in for being gay. She receives word that her father has passed and she returns home to mixed emotions. She finds her childhood friend Dovid is now married to Esti (Rachel McAdams), the women she was caught with. These feelings begin to flood back and Esti asks Dovid for her freedom. Dovid is forced to look within himself and his faith to see if he can let her go. Dovid ultimately decides to let her go and in the process steps down from consideration to be the new head of his church because he doesn’t feel like he should take the position because his faith has been shaken. Why would God want Dovid to hurt someone he loves because God made her this way? It’s a tough question he must ask and one that should be asked more. I loved this film because it felt very honest in its depiction of faith and religion. Why must I shun this person because they are a certain way? When you begin to really think about the rules of a certain religion they begin to break down very quickly.
Siren Craft Brew – Liquid Mistress
This fruity beer with a hint of hops that sneaks up on you reminds me of this film. I didn’t expect such religious undertones to this love triangle. I expected a sensual drama about a woman struggling with her sexuality, but never expected people also struggling with faith. Just like this film, you won’t expect the hops til they hit you.
There Will Be Blood
There Will Be Blood follows Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis’ best performance ever). He’s an oil tycoon and receives word that there is a lot of oil on a family’s farm. So Daniel goes to see for himself and discovers that there is a lot of oil and buys the land from the Sunday family. Eli Sunday is reluctant and doesn’t trust Daniel, but decides he can at first work with Daniel and get money for his church, but then that attempt at working together becomes a battle for the people of Little Boston. This film is about a lot and if you want to read my long review you can find it here on MovieBoozer. However, a large question in this film is religion and exactly how religion can be used in society in relation to business. I believe the film asks the audience to ask not how they can be used harmoniously, but rather which is more important to societal function? How the film ends, I think, reflects what Paul Thomas Anderson thinks is more important.
Deschutes Brewery – The Abyss
This is a dark stout at 11.2% alcohol. You can drink this now or wait and let it age. Either way you won’t be disappointed with this dark heavy beer. It’s dark, and it’s deep just like this film. There Will Be Blood is dark, heavy, deep, and one that will sit with you for a long time. Just like this dark delicious brew.