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

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.