Hammerle on … ‘Columbus’ and ‘It’

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The film “Columbus” is a stirring little movie focusing on the meaning of life. Filmed in Columbus, Indiana, it quietly absorbs both heartbreak and hope as we all try to make sense out of our brief time on Earth.

The engaging John Cho plays Jin, a Korean-American traveling to Columbus to be with his father who collapsed before giving a lecture. Never close to his dad, he becomes fascinated with the city’s architectural wonders as he awaits word from the hospital.

rating-columbusIn the process, he meets Casey, a young librarian, played in an appealing fashion by Haley Lu Richardson. A relationship evolves as both wrestle with problems that affect us all.

Surprisingly, there is very little music in this quaint film and you don’t miss it for a moment. As Jin comes to grips with the reality that he doesn’t really care if his father survives, Casey is torn about going to college in an out-of-state school and leaving an emotionally damaged mother whom she loves.

Parker Posey appears as Jin’s father’s assistant, and I have always found her to be a fascinating actress to watch in any movie. Let me encourage you to find a way to hunt down “Waiting for Guffman” (1996), “A Mighty Wind” (2003) and “For Your Consideration” (2006).

I grew up in Batesville, Indiana, a town of 5,000 quite close to Columbus on State Road 46. Though I traveled to this interesting small city primarily to play Otter Creek, a sensational golf course, I noticed its great architecture as a young kid.

In this film, directed by Kogonada, the friendship of Jin and Casey evolves as they visit the numerous architectural wonders of Columbus, and you are left fascinated at nearly every turn. It creates the feeling that you are watching a warm friendship develop between two people against a backdrop that resembles a Picasso painting.

This is a movie that will cause most viewers to reflect on events in their youth that helped define who they are today. It is a film to be seen and embraced.


Regardless of your feelings about horror movies, some are so powerful that they simply have to be seen. Director Andy Muschietti’s “It” is one of them.

The movie begins with an 8-year-old boy chasing a paper boat as it races down a rain-filled city curb. After it disappears into a sewer, he is stunned as he watches a sinister clown holding it. What happens to him is as shocking as any scene you have ever witnessed in a horror film.

rating-itFrom that moment on, I was once again glad that I am afflicted with amblyopia in my left eye. I only see clearly out of one eye, and at one time I viewed it as a curse until I discovered its value in a movie like “It.” I simply cover my right eye and watch the movie unfold so that I can avoid shocking scenes that would otherwise scare me to death.

And that was the case with “It.” Taking place in Derry, Maine, in 1988, it quickly becomes apparent that a killer clown known as Pennywise emerges every 27 years with a goal of killing as many children as possible. Here, seven kids overcome their fear and band together to fight this evil.

Leading the group is Bill, a teenage boy played by Jaeden Lieberher, who you previously saw in “Midnight Special” (2016) and “St. Vincent” (2014). Inflicted with a speech impediment, he has been left in agony given that it was his brother who previously disappeared into the sewer.

The other kids are wonderfully played by a cast that includes the cute and pudgy Jeremy Ray Taylor, and Sophia Lillis, a young girl who fights an incestuous father at home. It is also worth mentioning the contributions of Finn Wolfhard (Richie), Jack Grazer (Eddie), Wyatt Oleff (Stanley) and Chosen Jacobs (Mike), all of whom have memorable moments in their pursuit of a devious clown that may devour them.

What adds to our little band’s struggle is that they are haunted by an older gang of teenagers who try to abuse them at every turn. The leader is played by Nicholas Hamilton, a kid who you begin to think has a picture of Pennywise on his bedroom wall. As nasty as Hamilton is in his role as Henry Bowers, it is worth remembering his strong performance in last year’s “Captain Fantastic,” a film where Viggo Mortensen was nominated for an Oscar.

What makes this film so captivating is that it also involves some frequent funny moments in our kids’ relationship. As they ride their bikes to the edge of hell, you are left frequently laughing while you simultaneously hold your breath.

But let’s face it, this film belongs to the Swedish actor Bill Skarsgård as he brings a monster to life. Ruthless and sardonic, he makes Pennywise become one of the great villains in the history of film. He may have a clown’s face, but his goal is to devour as many children as possible.•


Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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