'Call Me Francis' and 'Little Boy' are two movies worth watching online.
As is the custom, this Easter saw the release of a small number of movies aimed at bringing the religious-minded to the local cineplex. This year’s offerings include the latest entry in the God’s Not Dead saga (hey, they make money), as well as Paul, Apostle of Christ, with Jim Caviezel in the role of the title character’s best bud, Luke. But let’s face it, not every family can afford a second mortgage to go to the movies. That being the case, let’s take a look at a couple of offerings streaming on Netflix instead.
Call Me Francis
It just hasn’t been a good month for His Holiness, has it? Between H. J. A. Sire’s tell-all book, The Dictator Pope, and the latest kerfuffle over alleged comments regarding the non-existence of Hell, Francis has had a rough go of it recently in the realm of public opinion. It wasn’t always like this, though. Back in 2013 when he ascended to the Throne of Peter, Pope Francis was someone who set the world’s imagination on fire. The four-part miniseries Call Me Francis tells the story of a young Jorge Bergoglio and how he came to be that man.
The series concentrates on the years between Bergoglio’s commitment to the priesthood and the start of his papacy. It is a time dominated by the “Dirty War,” that period during which a military junta, with a little help from the CIA, seized control of Argentina. Thousands of political dissidents, including a number of priests, went missing, never to be seen again.
According to Call Me Francis, this time period is crucial to understanding who the pope really is as it was then he solidified his Peronist leanings. Because of what he saw during these years, the show purports, Francis is equally disdainful of Marxism and laissez-faire capitalism, highly approving of authoritative leadership, suspicious of American involvement in anything, and highly focused on social welfare.
That’s if the series is correct, anyway. Either way, it is an interesting look at the young man who would become one of the more popular pontiffs of the last century, and a good introduction to a turbulent period in Argentinian history. A warning, though. Should you choose to watch the English dubbed version, some of the voice acting is sketchy at best. Also, there are a few intense scenes of torture that definitely make this one not for the kiddies.
For a bit more family friendly entertainment, you would do better streaming Little Boy. Released in 2015, the film tells the story of seven-year-old Pepper Busbee and his efforts to pray his father home from World War II. After the elder Busbee goes missing while fighting the Japanese in the Pacific, Pepper first tries magic to bring his father back. When this fails, he turns to his home town priest, Fr. Crispin, for advice on how to get prayer to accomplish the task.
Rather than scold the lad for his misunderstanding of how prayer works, Fr. Crispin tells Pepper that in order to pray properly, he must first practice the corporal works of mercy. To begin, the good father suggests Pepper make friends with Mr. Hashimoto, the town’s lone resident of Japanese descent. This is no easy request as anyone who looked the least bit Japanese at this time was immediately considered a pariah.
What follows is a heartwarming, sometimes heart breaking, story of how one boy, and through him a whole town, comes to understand both the power and true meaning of prayer. It is not a perfect movie, as Fr. Dwight Longenecker noted in his piece on the film, but it is full of Catholic sensibilities and well worth the watch. Keep in mind, however, that those not immune to a little sappiness may wish to have some tissues nearby.