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'Meth and modernism': The understated 'Columbus' offers a complex portrait of small-town America

'Meth and modernism': The understated 'Columbus' offers a complex portrait of small-town America

The camera barely moves in “Columbus.”

The debut feature from the single-named director Kogonada — who first gained notice in Hollywood for his video essays on Yasujiro Ozu, Wes Anderson, Stanley Kubrick and other filmmakers — is set in the modern-architecture mecca of Columbus, Ind. (Population as of the 2010 census: 44,061.) Along with Haley Lu Richardson, John Cho and Parker Posey, the stars of the movie include Eero Saarinen’s Miller House (1957) and North Christian Church (1964), I.M. Pei’s Cleo Rogers Memorial Library (1969) and James Stewart Polshek’s Quinco Mental Health Center (1972).

The way Kogonada and his cinematographer, Elisha Christian, frame these buildings,...

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