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Columbus (free)

  • Vilas Hall 821 University Avenue Madison, WI, 53706 United States (map)
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In the 2010s, a video essayist who goes by the handle ":: kogonada" has built a reputation on stunningly edited, literary analyses on the fathers of art house cinema like Robert Bresson and Ingmar Bergman as well as, maybe most notably, his touching take on the time-focused meditations of Richard Linklater for the Criterion Collection and Sight & Sound. Kogonada's debut as a feature director, Columbus (2017), applies his familiar intellectual eye to the literal contours and interiors of a small titular Midwestern city (in Indiana) while balancing a narrative that is thoughtfully attuned to an intimate drama unfolding within it. As the camera glides through an unassuming hub of mid-late 20th century modernist architecture (by the likes of I.M. Pei and Richard Meier), Kogonada is careful not to let the imposing minimalism and reflective surfaces hide Columbus' sense of lived-in character, infusing cinematic spaces with the warmth of budding greens and an enveloping spring color palette. With echoes of Eugène Green's La Sapienza (a Wisconsin Film Festival 2015 selection) and Sofia Coppola's Lost In Translation (2003), the film concerns the fateful meeting of two modest introverts with familial troubles and connections to the city's local architectural reputation. Haley Lu Richardson stars as Casey, an astute high school graduate who diligently works at the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library while moving at her own pace. Due to the obligations of her mother's recovering addiction, Casey has chosen to remain at home rather than pursue a career in design that would require her to move away. Her decision is tested when she encounters an older man, Jin (John Cho), who returns to Columbus from Korea to tend to the affairs of his comatose father. The dreamy, ambient soundtrack by Nashville guitar duo Hammock not only complements the film's spacious cinematography but also helps to establish a tone that is at once cerebral and genuinely sentimental. —Grant Phipps

Earlier Event: October 13
Afterword: Ex Libris Late Night
Later Event: October 14
Matt Jencik, Matchess, Auscultation