FILM REVIEWS. Horizon: An American Saga Chapter One; A Quiet Place: Day One; and Kinds of Kindness

The titles of all three of this week’s films showing at both Odeon Broadway Plaza and Cineworld Broad Street offer curious reminders of Westside life.

The long-disappeared travel firm ‘Horizon’ Midlands – remember them? – were once based at 214 Broad Street (|ater Smimla Pinks) and then at 4 Broadway, Five Ways. No Kevin Costner required.

If you want three ‘Quiet Place’ adventures in one day, then watch the prequel Day One only after experiencing the silence of the Hall of Memory and Library of Birmingham in Centenary Square first. And if you want to be shown genuine ‘Kindness’, stop a Westside Warden and simply say ‘Hello’. They are always walking about and happy to help!

Horizon: An American Saga Chapter One (15, 181 mins). Kevin Costner is on both sides of the camera for this sprawling, three-hour ‘evolution of America’ western. It includes a series of sometimes violent episodes as various settlers try to build new lives on the 1860s’ American frontier during Civil War division.

The verdict: *** Costner returns to his best genre, offering some of the year’s best scenery. And nothing ever beats the sound of horse hooves on movies of this scale. Dances With Wolves (1990) earned him Oscars for best picture and director, even though only the much later four-hour version fully made sense.

Like last week’s release The Bikeriders, Horizon is very episodic and more about the journey than the destination, not least because Chapter Two will be out in August and Costner is planning to make two more marathon movies in the next two years. Fair play when you are 69 and have invested some $58 million of your own cash.

The truth of the matter, though, is that his finest movie of the new millennium remains Open Range (2003) which still has the best shoot-out of the century to date.

Light on story, Horizon only peaks with a smart, briskly-edited preview of what’s to come. As temperatures rise this summer, don’t forget that our two multiplexes will again have lovely air conditioning read for Chapter Two in August!

A Quiet Place: Day One (15,100 minutes). Events depicted in John Krasinski’s original A Quiet Place movie in 2018 and then Part II (2020) grossed more than $600 million worldwide. Kerching! Part III follows next year.

For now, we get this standalone appetiser prequel offering you the chance to ‘Experience the day the world went quiet’ in New York where blind aliens with an acute sense of hearing turn everyone as quiet as mice. Oscar-winning star Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) on top form as the central character, Samira, who has a quite brilliant cat-on-a-lead, Frodo.

The verdict: *** If you are concerned about paying extra to watch a ‘Quiet’ movie in superior sound-system theatres like IMAX (Cineworld Broad Street) and Dolby Screen (Odeon Broadway Plaza) then don’t worry … there are plenty of audacious audio tricks as well as periods of silence.

Much less of an action thriller than you might expect – the best of it is in the trailer – it’s more about a woman’s own health concerns amid a seemingly doomed community. Often dark but never terrifying, the jump scares are measured in a horror that will be taking its time, like Jurassic Park. 

There are connections with other life-turns-upside-down movies like Independence Day as well as Denzel Washington’s frequently overlooked The Siege (1998) which also featured a similarly key bus sequence in New York.

Day One arrives with promise, and writer-director Michael Sarnoski’s version of the concept again offers a different kind of apocalyptic horror to the norm. But its relevant asylum seeker mood still feels a tad undercooked almost 20 years to the day after a similar fate welcomed Will Smith’s perceptively-futuristic, Chicago-set AI thriller I, Robot. 

KINDS OF KINDNESS (18, 164 minutes). ‘We might all be in danger’ is the latest theme for originality-seeking Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), here reuniting with Willem Dafoe and Emma Stone, the Oscar-winning actress of the last film they all made together, Poor Things. 

The brilliant Jesse Plemons (Game Night / Civil War) is also now added to the director’s latest deep dive for the stranger things in life. The triptych fable features three very different stories – a missing woman who seems to now be a different person; the search for someone special; and a man struggling to take control of his own life.

The verdict: ** The boundary-pushing Lanthimos is again not afraid to use (group) sex and full nudity to court attention, never mind themes of abuse, rape, miscarriage and suicide.

With a running time of two hours and 44 minutes, this is an adults-only experience. Some cinephiles will find that makes it all the better for them. More mainstream audiences might well find the ‘weird-for-the-sake-of-it’ feel hard to stomach.

ENDS

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