Rapid Movie Review: ‘PHOENIX’ & ‘THE TRIBE’

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Preston Barta // Features Editor


PHOENIX | 98 min | PG-13
Director: Christian Petzold
Cast: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld and Nina Kunzendorf

Based on the novel titled RETURN FROM THE ASHES by Hubert Monteilhet, PHOENIX expertly mashes together a revisionist war film with a spice of sci-fi. It follows the story of a disfigured concentration-camp survivor (an excellent Nina Hoss) who undergoes facial reconstruction surgery and seeks out her husband (Ronald Zehrfeld) who might have betrayed her to the Nazis.

Admittedly, the film goes beyond the medical science that was around at the time the film was set in, but if you can push aside logic, its sharp performances, absorbing atmosphere and stark direction make PHOENIX easy to buy into and appreciate.

PHOENIX opens in select theaters today.
Dallas: Angelika Dallas, Angelika Plano

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THE TRIBE | 132 min | NR
Director: Miroslav Slaboshpitsky
Cast: Grigoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova and Rosa Babiy

THE TRIBE undoubtedly shocked festivalgoers at last year’s Fantastic Fest. It was quite apparent that people either loved it or flat our hated it. To be fair, it really is not an easy watch by any means, as it is brutal, visceral and tragic all rolled into one.

The film centers on the story a deaf teenager who enters a specialized boarding school where, to survive its cruelty, he (Grigoriy Fesenko) becomes part of an unrestrained organization called “the tribe.”

This harrowing film is completely in sign language without dialogue or subtitles. So it does demand an attentive, patient and interested audience. If you are one of those who can handle the web this film spins (all the way to its grief-stricken climax), then you’re in for an unforgettable experience that will stick with you for a long time.

THE TRIBE opens in select theaters today.
Dallas: Texas Theatre (6pm), Alamo Drafthouse – Richardson (2:30pm, 6pm)

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.