Combustible Celluloid
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With: John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey, Erin Allegretti, Rory Culkin, Jim Dougherty, Michelle Forbes
Written by: Kogonada
Directed by: Kogonada
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 100
Date: 08/04/2017

Columbus (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Trancing About Architecture

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A scholar of Yasujiro Ozu and born in Korea, the filmmaker Kogonada makes a striking debut with Columbus, a movie about architecture nerds that is itself composed like great architecture. In Columbus, Ohio, all the other high school grads are leaving town, but Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) has no plans to go anywhere for the fall. She's works in the library with literate, masters-degree holder Gabriel (Rory Culkin) and goes to visit her favorite buildings. She has convinced herself that she likes it here, but the real reason is that her mom (Michelle Forbes) is unstable, an addict with bad taste in men, and Casey feels the need to look after her. Meanwhile, a famous professor collapses and his son Jin (John Cho) is summoned from Korea to be by his bedside. Although Jin once had an old crush on the professor's assistant (Parker Posey), he spends time wandering around town, where he runs into Casey. The two begin a thoughtful friendship, each learning to question the other's excuses and decisions. Their conversations are carefully staged and framed, using wide shots and gorgeous compositions; it tries hard to equate structures with the different facets in the relationship. And while it's all quite accomplished, I can't say I loved it. The characters remain on an analytical level and the intensity that their relationship might have reached just isn't there (you can feel the lack of it when they part). Regardless, I liked Columbus quite a bit and will note Kogonada as a director to watch.

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