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I have to make a choice, whether to see this or Treasure of the Sierra Madre, tomorrow night. I see from Ron's blog that he was planning on seeing it - anyone else? Any thoughts?

For those who know even less than I do, it's apparently a piece of quite devout Jewish cinema, and a comedy. It involves a couple, who are too poor to fulfill their ritual obligaiton to host guests ("Ushpizin" is the Aramaic word for guests) during the holy time of Sukkot - so they pray, and all they need comes to them. It's partly remarkable, apparently, for the fact that it got made at all in Israel and its orthodox community.

That's just how eye roll.

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  • 9 months later...

Good film. Not a classic, but certainly servicable. Both good and bad come to the couple. Is it the result of prayer? of a Jewish sense of karma? coincidence? Is it all that good (well, it does have a happy ending). Abraham and Sarah meet Job (well not quite as bad as Job).

(figured I'd bump the thread so we can rate it)

Edited by Darrel Manson
A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Well, FWIW, Rosh Hashannah did come to mind for me in the section where Moshe searches out Gabai to seek forgiveness for stealing his succah. Don't know of a study guide, but I think it's a film that could easily be used in connection with the high holidays.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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  • 3 months later...

Here is my review. We include discussion questions in all of our reviews.

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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Thanks Denny.

I saw this a week or two back, thought I'd posted here on it, but obviously didn't. I enjoyed this, although the two guests seemed a lkittle cartoonishly realised.

But the lead characters were marvellous, and it was a great way to enter into a greater understanding of one particular expression of another religion.

Matt

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I enjoyed this, although the two guests seemed a lkittle cartoonishly realised.

Matt

Yes - that was a real weakness in the film. It was not enough for me to subtract a rating though -

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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no i hadn't thought it until one of my friends pointed it out, and then of course I did think "oh yeah maybe a bit" like you say not enough to drop a rating, particularly given the heroes are also cartoonish, only in a "these are actually real people" kind of way.

Matt

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I was very struck with how completely the married couple focused their lives on the desire to experience God's love. I don't think I've seen that in another film. Made me love them, and want to want God as much as they do. Makes me think Paul steered us a bit wrong with his emphasis that the Hebrew Bible is all about law, where Jesus' good news is all about grace. Maybe in their day, maybe in Paul's experience, maybe in some theological sense. But hesed is throughout the Old Testament, and it seemed abundantly clear that this couple worshiped a god of love, and forgiveness. Beautiful.

(Don't worry. I think Jesus is unique, believe in sin and the necessity of Jesus' death on the cross: I don't glibly write off Paul, as that paragraphs sounds. But USHPIZIN certainly embodies an element of Judaism that is very appealing to me.)

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Ron wrote:

: Makes me think Paul steered us a bit wrong with his emphasis that the Hebrew Bible is all about law,

: where Jesus' good news is all about grace.

Paul, or Luther's version of Paul? :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Ditto Peter

I'm finding myself enjoying this film more as I think about it. I love that the miracle happens at the start, not as some hugely built up event, and that the "heroes" are so falible in such a wildly God following way.

Matt

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I love that the miracle happens at the start, not as some hugely built up event, and that the "heroes" are so fallible in such a wildly God following way.

Matt

Yes - that's what makes the film for me. The life of faith is all about what happens AFTER the miracle and we're on a new path - but the path is not simple, easy or formulaic. It is a living relationship with a living God and living people!

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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Ron wrote:

: Makes me think Paul steered us a bit wrong with his emphasis that the Hebrew Bible is all about law,

: where Jesus' good news is all about grace.

Paul, or Luther's version of Paul? :)

Interesting point. Strangely, I almost typed "Makes me think Paul (or Luther) steered us a bit wrong with..." but didn't.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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  • 5 weeks later...

Watched this one again tonight, really have a soft spot for it.

Poking around for reviews and such, I found this in Kenneth Turan's review; "Its star, Shuli Rand, also wrote the script, taking inspiration from his own life. Once a successful Israeli movie star, he left acting in 1996 to became a baal teshuvah, someone who returns to the faith."

Whaddya know.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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  • 1 year later...

Had the good pleasure to see this yet again and so glad to have found the thread. As Ron so aptly described the enlightenment drawn from this film is what is so appealing: not only the marriage but how the couple desire to live Inside Gods love permeates the whole film and a telling homily in and of itself. Also the added plus of how it sheds light on the orthodoxy of our older brothers... and our history as well.Just to see the "mystery and manners" of their prayer life was in itself worth the viewing ... a real life unique to each as much as by gender as also by the vantageof each character, the depths so human, so earthy and ever so real and all so captivating... especially for me at least in the case of the wife Ha-Ushpizin,,, talking to the lord as if to a lover. Sheathed by eros but at its core truly caritas: charity. So resonant of the Song of Songs, and even more so of yet anothers own fiat that changed the world.

Offhand I cant remember such a great film on how to talk to God sincerely that really lingers so since perhaps Robert Duvall's the Apostle or the mad irishman in Braveheart . Truly a hidden gem from our Abrahamic brothers and well worth the time.

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  • 2 years later...

On the one hand, I'm glad the Top 100 pointed me towards this film, as it's a very good film. On the other hand, I don't think it merits a place on the list. It's a very interesting look at an unfamiliar subculture, but stylistically it doesn't stand out as anything special. Also, if Ushpizin's theology were on display in an American 'Christian' film, I suspect a lot of us here would dismiss it as shallow 'name it and claim it.'

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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but stylistically it doesn't stand out as anything special.

Agreed ... it's not obviously (or "obviously not") the work of a virtuoso director. But here is where you lose me ...

if Ushpizin's theology were on display in an American 'Christian' film, I suspect a lot of us here would dismiss it as shallow 'name it and claim it.'

Well, but the serious critique of "name it and claim it" from within Christianity presupposes a Christocentric cosmology that is, by definition, alien to Judaism. Putting USHPIZIN's theology in a Christian film, American or otherwise, would mean always already having changed it beyond recognition and meaningful analogy.

USHPIZIN's worldview doesn't pose a greater problem than ... well, the Old Testament itself does, particularly the Wisdom literature that the film most obviously resembles. While it is heretical for "Word of Faith" or the Prosperity Gospel to claim that prayer is vindicated by worldly result, it surely cannot be the case that prayer and obedience must never bear worldly fruit.

Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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