Columbus is the feature-film debut of Korean American director Kogonada, known to cinephiles for his video essays on auteurs. His film stars John Cho (Star Trek, Harold and Kumar) as Jin, a grieving son arriving in Indiana from Seoul to care for his ailing father, a renowned scholar of modernist architecture. The architectural imagery in Columbus serves as something more: it provides narrative punctuation, forming elegantly placed interludes in a moving story of the real people who live in and visit today's Columbus. It's a film about the forgotten heartland ambitions of young dreamers like Casey who face the precarious economic realities of a city beyond the thriving coasts. At a time when ideas of diversity, Middle Americanness, and technology-fueled attention-deficiency sit at the center of national cultural debates, Columbus elegantly glides across all those themes, speaking to yet not confronting them.
Elsewhere: The Quiet Radicalism of Columbus
Bilal Qureshi is a writer and cultural critic exploring the intersection of international politics, identity, and art. During 2008–15, he served as producer, editor, and reporter for NPR's All Things Considered. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and NPR's Code Switch. He also produces the FQ podcasts for Film Quarterly.
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Bilal Qureshi; Elsewhere: The Quiet Radicalism of Columbus. Film Quarterly 1 March 2018; 71 (3): 77–80. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2018.71.3.77
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