Jan 20, 2019
Welcome back to another week of podcasts. No new sponsors this week, but if you’re interested in contributing, head over to patreon.com/onemoviepunch and join at any level. You’ll be eligible to have us review a film of your choice for Sponsor Sundays. In the meantime, while we wait for the Oscar nominees to be announced, I thought I would go back to a review from early last year that really caught me off guard. It currently has a 97% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 89 Must See rating from Metacritic. Better yet, it’s still streaming on Hulu, and also available for rental or purchase from the major digital outlets. It’s a patient, beautiful, hypnotic film.
Today’s movie is “Columbus” (2017), Kogonada’s debut film set in Columbus, Indiana, a city known for its modernist architecture and public art installations. The film follows Jin (John Cho), who has arrived in Columbus to attend to his dying father, who collapsed on a speaking tour. On his trips to the hospital, he meets Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), a recent high school graduate working at the library with Gabriel (Rory Culkin), and taking care of her mother (Michelle Forbes).
“Columbus” (2017) has two centers: the mostly platonic relationship that develops between Jin and Casey, and the city of Columbus itself. Casey has an interest in the architecture in Columbus, and had planned on attending a talk by Jin’s father before his accident. Jin and Casey form a unique pair. Casey takes Jin around Columbus, pointing out her favorite buildings and their significance to her. Both are looking for someone to help them make sense of their situation. John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson feel so genuine in their respective roles.
The film’s supporting cast is excellent. Parker Posey plays Eleanor, Jin’s father’s assistant, appearing and disappearing as her schedule allows, and serves as another connection between Jin and Casey. Rory Culkin’s scenes were nearly perfect, never upstaging Casey’s experience while still making himself known. Michelle Forbes is so expressive, showing more than saying.
Kogonada’s makes great use of Columbus’ natural and man-made beauty, weaving in metaphor that fits the architecture, seeking locations full of solid colors and distinct contrasts. The film has a lot of deep, stationary shots, fitting in multiple layers of activity, along with nice use of mirrors. I also appreciated the use of seen and unseen facial expressions, communicating so much in seconds. Every scene feels alive and real.
All of this creates a gorgeous film that tackles our modern expectations of small town life and the importance of finding meaning in our relationships. And to top it off, the film is backed by an amazing score from Hammock, who exist somewhere between shoegazer and ambient, always helping capture the moments. I look forward to all of Kogonada’s future output.