MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
“As he went ashore, [Jesus] saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” – Mark 6:34 (NRSV)
This is one of my favorite scripture verses because it demonstrates Jesus’ empathy with struggling persons. Rather than maintaining a position of power or superiority over the crowd, Jesus begins to teach them at their own place of engagement. In just a few words, the incarnation is revealed to be God’s intentional movement to identify with and walk alongside humanity, accepting us as we are so that we might grow to become more like Christ.
Minding the Gap is the true story of three teenagers growing up in the midst of the depressed economy of Rockford, Illinois. They all come from lower-middle-class homes and their family history (without exception) include abusive and often absent father figures. They turn to alcohol and marijuana to lessen the pain. But their main release is found in skateboarding around town with skill and bravado.
The trio is ethnically diverse: Zack is white, Keire is African-American, and Bing is Chinese-American. They attend school together and spend most of their free time together (along with other mutual friends). Zack’s girlfriend Nina becomes pregnant and the couple find themselves thrust into an adult world of responsibility that they are not yet mature enough to navigate.
Minding the Gap covers a span of about five years, including early videos as well as more recent skateboard sequences, stunningly filmed with a steady cam in an exciting and fluid fashion, vividly showing the exhilaration found in the freedom of motion. But the documentary also includes unsparing scenes of struggle and heartbreak, and interviews with parents and siblings that pull no punches shining light into dark places. The subjects trust the filmmaker with their lives, for the director is Bing Liu, one of the three young adults profiled in the movie.
To show people making foolish choices and rash actions without judgment is a rare thing, but Bing Liu’s friendship and honesty with his family and friends created an environment in which the participants trusted the director to tell their story well.
This film is quite an accomplished work of art and demonstrates (without becoming preachy) how filmmaking became Bing’s way out of despair. Even though there are no easy answers or quick solutions to the messiness of life, the more we are able to open our hearts to others’ challenges, the more opportunities we will have to put grace into action and speak love into a world desperately in need of it.
This is one of the best films of 2018 and a movie that I would consider required viewing for anyone wanting to reach new generations with the gospel.
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Four halos: (A personal coming-of-age story that offers hope in the midst of the rough transition from adolescence to adulthood.)
Three pitchforks: Much swearing, alcohol and drug abuse, recollections of psychological and physical abuse.
Do you have comments about this movie or movie review? E-mail your comments. (Your name and UM affiliation must be supplied in order for your comments to be posted.)
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
E-mail comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH.
near the Akron-Canton airport.
8800 Cleveland Ave. NW ·
North Canton, OH 44720
Toll Free: 800-831-3972
Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 am – 4:00 pm.
© EAST OHIO CONFERENCE. All Rights Reserved.