In the three featurettes that accompany the new Criterion Collection edition of Christian Petzold’s “Vertigo” is mentioned exactly once. Director of photography Hans Fromm brings up the Alfred Hitchcock classic in comparing the lurid reds he wanted for one nightclub scene to the bright color palette of “Vertigo.”
That seems odd, given that most movie fans would make the obvious connection between “Vertigo” and “Phoenix.” Both films are about women who remake themselves for men, recreating the haunting spectre of a flame thought lost forever. Maybe the connection is so obvious that it’s not worth mentioning. Or maybe “Phoenix” goes so deeply into its own distinct themes — of betrayal and identity, of the futility of trying to change back into the person you were — that the cinematic homage becomes the least interesting part of the film to those who made it.
Pick of the week: “Interstellar” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Christopher Nolan’s latest film comes so close to greatness and just can’t quite grab it. The first third of the film is a plausibly realized version of a dystopian Earth, with humans just getting by as the planet seems to be shutting down all around us. It’s when a mission to save the planet takes flight that the film finds its most breathtaking outer-space visuals, but also its most misbegotten ideas, and the attempt to build an emotional father-daughter through line never quite materializes. Still, it’s a terrific attempt.
“Phoenix” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. PG-13, 1:38, three and a half stars out of four. I’ll be doing a post-shot chat after the Tuesday 7 p.m. show at Sundance Cinemas.
The title “Phoenix” may evoke images of the mythical bird rising from the ashes, but the Berlin depicted in Christian Petzold’s film is not so much rising as crawling out of the ruins, dazed and guilty. The haunting thriller looks as much at the intimate interior damage wrought upon by World War II as the physical damage.
Dreharbeiten zum CHRISTIAN PETOLD Film PHÖNIX
mit Nina Hoss , Ronald Zehrfeld und Nina Kunzendorf
Verwendung der Fotos nur in Zusammenhang mit dem Film PHÖNIX von Christian Petzold
( Model release No ) © Christian Schulz
Just a quick update that I’ve scheduled the post-show chats for the next Sundance Cinemas Screening Room Calendar for September and October. The full Screening Room calendar is here. The chats have been really fun this year, and I’m looking forward to talking about these movies after the lights go up.
On Tuesday, Sept. 1, I’ll be doing a post-show chat after the evening performance of “Phoenix,” Christian Petzold’s Hitchcockian World War II drama starring Nina Hoss. And then on Tuesday, Oct. 5, we’ll be talking after “Testament of Youth,” a World War I drama starring Alicia Vikander of “Ex Machina” and Kit Harington of “Game of Thrones.”
The talks are free — just hang around in the theater after the lights go up. I think they’re both movies that will give us a lot to talk about. Hope to see you there!