Phoenix (#110 of 5)

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2015 Numbers #25-#50 and Individual Ballots

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Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2015

Sundance Selects

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2015

From James Lattimers's introduction to Slant Magazine's Top 25 Films of 2015: “The wonderful thing about cinema is how it resists easy ordering principles. Once you start thinking about the movies you've seen, they automatically blur into one, a glorious procession of images, sensations, and recollections that is itself like escaping into the darkness of the auditorium. Yet this quality becomes a hindrance as soon as you need to pick out individual films from the flow: Which film did I see at which time and how did it make me feel both now and then? How we consume films today makes things even harder, as both the proliferation of film festivals, themed programs, and retrospectives in New York and beyond and the wealth of Blu-ray editions and streaming options actively encourage us to think boundless.” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorite films of the year made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed making it onto our list, followed by our contributors' individual ballots. Happy reading.

Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Phoenix, Tokyo Tribe, & Hill of Freedom

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Toronto International Film Festival 2014: Phoenix, Tokyo Tribe, & Hill of Freedom
Toronto International Film Festival 2014: Phoenix, Tokyo Tribe, & Hill of Freedom

Christian Petzold and Nina Hoss collaborate on yet another fine quasi-thriller with Phoenix, about a concentration camp survivor, Nelly (Hoss), who undergoes facial reconstruction surgery for a wound and emerges unrecognized by Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld), the husband who gave her up to the Gestapo. Well, not entirely unrecognized: He thinks she looks just enough like his presumably dead wife that she could pose as Nelly in order to receive her hefty inheritance. The performative scenes that result from Johnny's coaching elicit yet another spellbinding performance from Hoss, who always makes Nelly look as if she wants desperately for Johnny to see that it's her while also dreading what will happen if he figures the truth out. Further, the film uses this setup to make a keen, occasionally funny comment on the male gaze, as Johnny knows every small detail of his wife's body and movements, yet cannot put together the whole image of Nelly now that it no longer exactly matches up to his idealized memories.

Best of the Aughts A Single Take, #20 - #11

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Best of the Aughts: A Single Take, #20 - #11
Best of the Aughts: A Single Take, #20 - #11

20. Justice, “D.A.N.C.E.” (, 2007)
I know people who really despise this song; that seems unnecessarily curmudgeonly to me, but abstractly I see their point. This is a song that nakedly apes Daft Punk unlike anything else on Justice's sole official album to date, whose hooks initially seem stupidly obvious and pandering, a sell-out version of real dance music, a way of tugging at fond memories of the Jackson 5 without earning the comparison, a cross-over for people who'll never actually cross over to investigate non-hit dance songs. All of which is true. I won't pull some kind of nonsense about how what's obvious is actually pure emotion breaking down your cynical barriers and making us a less hardened generation, or that it makes you want to dance despite yourself; I'm perfectly capable of standing still, thank you. But this song is infectious and overwhelming in a way that makes it clear it's accomplishing all of its obvious goals without making you hate yourself. And why is it ranked so far above Daft Punk? Because it showed up way after my initial love affair with music; after, say, freshman year of college, it takes a lot more for something to worm itself into my life and take up permanent residence. Daft Punk certainly paved the way, but Justice got there after I despaired of ever hearing another Daft Punk album I liked as much as Discovery, let alone having someone take up their mantle (in unfettered obviousness, if not sonics). The other thing I like about this is that it's a perfect single—one that stands out as such—from an album it really sounds nothing like but which I like almost as much in its entirety. More bands should pitch their big cross-over with this much care.

Breaking Bad Recap Season 2, Episode 12, "Phoenix"

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Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 12, "Phoenix"

AMC

Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 12, "Phoenix"

What does it mean anymore to be a father? We still roughly know what it means to be a mother. Indeed, we rather know it in our bones. Giving birth, nurturing, caretaking, we get all that. But, increasingly, the notion of fatherhood feels almost taken for granted, as something we've constructed up around the male parent to give him something to do. You teach the kids to drive. You make sure they stay on the straight and narrow. You provide for them somehow, guide them in a way to help them realize their dreams, maybe even some of your own dreams. Those pundits who bleat about how the role of the father is disappearing in modern culture aren't right, not exactly, but what they say sometimes, critically, feels right, as though dear old Dad and the patriarchy he drags along with him is powerless in the face of modernization, even as we know that the smiling benevolence of Father Knows Best was, at best, not always true and, at worst, a complete myth. We respond to deeper urges, then, know, somehow, that to be a father is to hold your baby for the first time and say to yourself, “All right. It's not all about me now. Let's see how that changes things.”