Holiday movies in theaters tap into spiritual side of season

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(RNS) At this festive time of the year, even if you don’t go to a house of worship, you can, perhaps, go to the movies. A crop of films in theaters this December has strong religious themes, both Christian and Jewish — and there are a few for skeptics as well. Some highlights, in alphabetical order:

Christmas Eve

It’s Dec. 24 and six people get stuck in an elevator when the power goes off. Among those trapped inside is an atheist surgeon played by Gary Cole, who has been asked by a dying patient to pray for her. Also in the cast is Shawn Southwick, who happens to be Larry King’s wife who happens to be a producer of this film that happened to get this review from “God might work in mysterious ways, but ‘Christmas Eve’ barely works at all with its misbegotten mingling of supposed mirth (someone actually shoots off a pistol once or twice in one of the elevators just for kicks — yeehaw!) and tepid devotional drama.” Currently in theaters — if you can find it.

Video courtesy of Amplify Releasing Via YouTube


This movie, based on actual events, is told through the eyes of Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith), a forensic pathologist who contends that the National Football League tried to suppress his research on the impact of concussions on players’ brains. Columbia Pictures is promoting the real Dr. Omalu’s Christianity as a driving factor in his work. Fun fact — Will Smith was raised a Baptist, went to Catholic school, is now not religious, but has spoken favorably of Scientology. Lots of fun there. Release date: Dec. 25.

Video courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment via YouTube

Don Verdean

A comedy! It’s a Christmas miracle. This description, from the producers: “A self-professed biblical archaeologist who has fallen on hard times starts to bend the truth in order to continue inspiring the faithful.” Hijinks ensue. Release date: Dec. 11.

Video courtesy of IMBD

Every Thing Will Be Fine

Nice, uplifting plot for the holidays: A writer is out driving, hits a kid and kills him. From the film’s website: “The incident sets him on a soul-searching, decades-long journey toward redemption, a quest that profoundly touches the lives of both his girlfriend and the accident victim’s mother.” Pass the popcorn … and the Prozac. Currently in theaters.

Video courtesy of Movieclips Trailers via YouTube

The Letters

This biopic of the late Mother Teresa, currently on the fast track to becoming a Catholic saint, hasn’t been well-received by the secular press, though some religious reviewers have raved about it. The sticking point: The India-based nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity left behind a trove of letters that expressed, among other things, her struggle with doubt and faith. Apparently, the controversy created by the release of the letters gets short shrift in the film, despite the title. Currently in theaters.

Video courtesy of The Letters Movie via YouTube

Yellow Day

This “family movie” follows a young man through a single day in which he is miraculously able to see the world through the eyes of God. Release date: Dec. 25.

Video courtesy of YellowDay via YouTube

(Kimberly Winston writes about popular culture for RNS)

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  • “The Letters” is the one I want to see.
    I have read five different books about “Mother” Teresa and the one which seems the most honest is “Mother Teresa, The Missionary Position” by Christopher Hitchens.

    According to Hitchens, few people have done more damage to impoverished people than Mother Teresa. She was a friend not to the impoverished but to poverty itself.

    I was raised Catholic and was always told Mother Teresa was a good person. But after all I have read, Teresa and her religion deserve nothing but scorn.

    “The single most effective cure for poverty has been the emancipation of women. It has worked universally in every place it has been tried. Mother Teresa gave her life fighting against women’s freedom.” – Christopher Hitchens

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  • Larry

    Let me guess Tom, you are the movie reviewer for Stormfront?

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  • Suradit

    “I have read five different books … the one which seems the most honest…”
    “According to Hitchens, few people have done more damage to impoverished people than Mother Teresa”

    You’ve read a few books in the comfort of your presumed middle class existence and found one that suited your agenda, so that makes it “honest.”

    One can only wonder what personal contribution you’ve made to improve the lives of the poor,those dying in the streets or suffering from leprosy, aside from being judgmental of somwonw who actually put herself in the front line by choice.

    There aren’t that many people who are genuinely worthy of our respect and appreciation and the few who are, are sure to attract small-minded people who want to prove them unworthy in an attempt to inflate their own egos.

    Your eagerness disparage someone who unquestionable did good work is a sad reflection on you. I suppose you think Donald Trump is the stuff saints are made of.

  • The rest of the story…

  • Larry

    Slinging invective at someone for referencing information which makes you feel uncomfortable is hardly much of a refutation.

    Mother Theresa’s relationship with several dictators and the UNNECESSARILY appalling conditions of her clinics are all well documented by sources which are objectively reliable.

    She had great PR, as evidenced by your reaction. But facts do not fall in her favor here.

    “I suppose you think Donald Trump is the stuff saints are made of.”

    Nope both Trump and Mother Theresa were self aggrandizing media hounds who contribute little of value to society. The difference being that Trump doesn’t pretend to be beneficent.

  • Many are looking for answers today in the midst of the immorality and lawlessness that we see all around us. People have many opinions, but it is only God’s view that really matters. Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6) Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins so that we might have forgiveness and be reconciled to God the Father. Receive Him as Savior and Lord and turn away from sin. Then things will become much clearer. “Come to Me, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus Christ

  • George Nixon Shuler

    I’m looking forward to the Tarrantinoesque mayhem of “The Hateful 8.” I understand it is inferior to “Inglorious Basterds” and “Django Unchained” and I don’t doubt it: few films can surpass those as exhibitions of the rule you have to break eggs to make an omlet. I’m a nonviolent guy but the fantasy of seeing racist authoritarians and Nazis get their just deserts is exhilarating.