Etsba Elohim: Out Of The Blue

“I have an idea. Let’s have coffee.” So suggests Shabtai to his cousin Herzel, but falls asleep before the coffee is ready. He has a dream of a beautiful woman speaking intimately to him and, on waking, discovers that the woman is real–in fact a national celebrity, model, singer, businesswoman named Lili Dekel. He then constructs a fantasy story of his relationship with Lili while Herzel listens, entranced.

So begins Yigal Bursztyn’s delightful little movie Etsba Elohim, featured in the 24th Israeli Film Festival in America as Out of the Blue.

Shabtai and Herzel are junkmen, buying and selling old furniture on the streets of Tel Aviv. Shabtai is married and lives in a small apartment with his wife, Rachel, and his daughter Batya, while Herzel, an orphan, lives alone in Shabtai’s warehouse.

Shabtai is lazy, surly and unfulfilled, while Herzel is his simple, cheerful sidekick who does most of the work, and becomes increasingly enamored of Shabtai’s fabrication. He hatches a plan for them to meet Lili Dekel which ends up taking some very funny turns.

Herzel is spurred on by his infatuation with Shabtai’s daughter, a young (high school?) girl who likes getting gifts from him, but seems a little dense as far as understanding his intentions. (Which are honorable, but pretty inappropriate.)

The twist of this movie is that Lily finds herself attracted to Herzel, while he’s doing everything he can to direct her to an increasingly hostile Shabtai. In fact, Shabtai seems to have a penchant for freezing up in a clinch. And we begin to wonder why Herzel is so loyal–and he is, even when Shabtai treats him very badly indeed.

Anyway, good fun. You probably won’t have a chance to see it, without going out of your way. Israel seems to turn out a bunch of good little movies that don’t get much airing over here. (See the 2004 charmer Ha Ushpizin for example.)

We actually saw it “by accident”. There’s another movie called Out of the Blue, a 2006 crime drama with Karl Urban which IMDB linked to instead of this one. I kind of figured it wasn’t the one showing–I knew the Israeli film festival was at the theater. I like to know a little bit more about things going in, but at 90 minutes, it wasn’t a huge risk.

Though it was $12 a ticket. Yow! Painful. But always easier to swallow when the money’s going to some struggling film auteur.

Anyway, no regrets. Lots of fun. Actually enjoyed it more than The Hangover.

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