I was back at the Oshman Family JCC last Monday for just one film, and it was an interesting one. GOD'S NEIGHBORS starts with a young, religious Israeli man studying the Torah. Some Arabs stop by and start playing loud, annoying music right outside his window. Then some other young devout religious Jews come by, and promptly beat the crap out of them. These religious vigilantes are the core of the story, particularly Avi who lays down some sick praise-to-G-d beats in his studio and leads the trio keeping their neighborhood of Bat Yam pious (they also smoke quite a bit of weed, but that's not forbidden in the Torah so apparently that's okay.) They chase out a video seller who is hawking pornographic movies. They hassle a man who worked a little late and kept his store open just a few minutes after sundown on the Sabbath. And most importantly, they turn their attention to a young secular woman who just moved into town and in their opinion isn't dressing modestly enough. The stairwell encounter with her has a very creepy, rape-y vibe. But that's where Avi draws the line. He lets his guys know that she got the message and they should let her go. And then he decides he wants to get to know her better. And that's the real story, the tension of the secular and the devout in their attraction to each other. Several great performances, not just in the two leads but also the charismatic young rabbi who does his best to steer Avi and his gang onto a path that is righteous without dishing out some righteous beatings.
GOD'S NEIGHBORS plays again this Sunday, October 27th, at 5:30 pm at the Century 24 in San Jose. For tickets and info click here.
Running Time: 98 minutes
My total Minutes: 340,000