West Virginia Governor Announces He'll Switch To GOP At Trump Rally

In January, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice delivered his first State of the State speech in Charleston, W.Va. Justice is set to switch parties and become a Republican as President Trump visits the state.

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Walter Scriptunas II/AP

Updated at 7:45 p.m.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice will flip from the Democratic Party to the GOP, making the announcement Thursday night while appearing at a Trump campaign with the president.

“Today I will tell you with lots of prayers and lots of thinking, I’ll tell you West Virginians, I can’t help you any more being a Democrat governor,” Justice said.

Trump had teased “a very big announcement” during the Huntington, W.Va., rally and the New York Times was first to report that Justice’s party switch would be the major reveal.

First elected last November as a conservative Democrat, Justice is a billionaire coal and real estate businessman who has drawn comparisons to Trump in the past. He’s identified as a Republican and an independent in the past, and he declined to endorse Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Justice’s switch means Republicans now have control of a record 34 governorships — tying a record set nearly a century ago in 1922 — and gives the GOP complete control of state government in 26 states.

In a statement Thursday evening, West Virginia GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas said, “We look forward to Governor Justice reflecting the conservative values of our Party and platform.”

However, national Democrats — who were not informed ahead of time about Justice’s decision before the news leaked — were quick to point out that Republicans spent plenty of time attacking Justice when he was their opponent. Ahead of the announcement, the West Virginia Republican Party’s website was headlined by multiple anti-Justice posts.

Several GOP operatives also told NPR they weren’t entirely thrilled with the news either, and were also only informed of the switch at the last minute.

“The ethical problems of this administration will soon become obvious,” the state GOP said in a press release just a few weeks ago. In February, they called Justice a “deadbeat” for still owing $4.4 million in back taxes.

“Justice wants to raise taxes, raise tolls, and put new tolls on every road he can while he is Governor,” Lucas, the West Virginia GOP chairman, wrote in a late-July post responding to a state tour Justice was about to embark on. “It’s our job to make sure he can’t do anything else to damage this state until we can get a conservative into the Governor’s Mansion where he refuses to live.”

While the Mountaineer State has been historically Democratic, the state has moved to the right on the federal level, especially in recent years. West Virginia gave Trump one of his largest margins of victory in November, winning the state by almost 42 points.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also a conservative and a former governor, is expected to face a tough re-election race next year. There has been speculation that Manchin might also switch parties or join the Trump Cabinet, but Manchin’s spokesman knocked down both those rumors to the Times.

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Feds Arrest Man Credited With Helping To Stop Ransomware Attack

Marcus Hutchins, seen in May when he was credited with hobbling the WannaCry attack. Now, U.S. authorities have arrested him for allegedly creating and distributing banking malware.

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Frank Augstein/AP

Marcus Hutchins’ Twitter account suddenly went quiet a day ago when the FBI took him into custody in Las Vegas on Wednesday. The 23-year-old British citizen was in town attending the Black Hat and DefCon cybersecurity conferences.

According to a court document and a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice, he’s accused of creating and distributing a malware program called Kronos. It’s designed to steal banking log in information and other financial data from infected computers.

The Justice Department statement said “following a two-year long investigation, a federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Marcus Hutchins, also known as “Malwaretech,” for his role in creating and distributing the Kronos banking Trojan.” The indictments were handed down in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

The British researcher is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, three counts of distributing and advertising an electronic communication interception device, one count of endeavoring to intercept electronic communications, and one count of attempting to access a computer without authorization.

The alleged crime happened between July 2014 and July 2015.

But Hutchins is known as a hacker whose career has been dedicated to stopping cyber attacks, not committing them.

He grew famous in May when he was credited with finding a “kill switch” on a malware program called WannaCry that threatened over 150 countries. The program would infect computers, lock them up and demand ransom to restore the information. The U.K.’s National Health Service was among the victims. Hutchins is a self-described “accidental hero” and fellow researchers expressed shock and disbelief at the accusations.

Andrew Mabbit, founder of cyber firm Fidus Information Security, said on Twitter that he was trying to find Hutchins a lawyer and would soon be crowdfunding cash for his legal representation.

“I refuse to believe the charges against @MalwareTechBlog,” Mabbitt said, referring to Hutchins’ Twitter handle. “He spent his career stopping malware, not writing it.”

Mabbitt didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Another researcher Kevin Beaumont tweeted that the Department of Justice had made a “huge mistake.”

Beaumont tweeted that Hutchins’ business is to infiltrate malware like Kronos, monitor them and sell that data to law enforcement.

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Fulton County, Georgia Has Asked Live Nation To Cancel An R. Kelly Concert

R. Kelly, performing on May 7, 2016 in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois.

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R. Kelly’s upcoming tour may be shorter than he expected.

The Office of the County Attorney for Fulton County, Ga., issued a letter to Live Nation on Thursday requesting an upcoming performance by the Grammy-winning singer at the Wolf Creek Amphitheater be canceled. Fulton County owns the 5,420-seat outdoor venue in College Park, Ga.

The letter comes following a report from journalist Jim DeRogatis for BuzzFeed two weeks ago that chronicled accusations of misconduct by the singer.

“I’ve gotten a series of emails from various constituents about the concert,” John H. Eaves, chairman of Fulton County’s Board of Commissioners, told NPR, “asking me directly to do all that I can as chairman to stop it. Whether it was an organized effort or individuals who are passionate about this issue that wanted us to cancel it, I don’t know, but we’ve heard them.”

“Based on the allegations reported in various news outlets regarding this artist, the citizens of Fulton County have expressed their collective concerns that Live Nation would allow this artist at a venue that is supported in part by the taxpayers,” the letter reads.

The letter was, at least in part, the result due to the efforts of Kenyette Barnes who, along with Oronike Odeleye, has organized the #MuteRKelly campaign, which published a letter to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners yesterday.

“I presented testimony before the Fulton County board requesting they pull the contract” Barnes told NPR. “Because of the interesting agreements the county has with Live Nation, they’ve contracted with them for all their summer concert series, including R. Kelly’s. But it’s up to Live Nation.”

Live Nation has near-total control of the facility during the terms of the contract, according to a copy of it provided to NPR by the county. The fine print reads: “The operator [Live Nation] shall have the exclusive right to manage and operate the Facilities during the term of this Agreement.”

Carrie Davis, chief communications officer for Live Nation, said the show would continue as scheduled. Asked about precedents for the cancellation, Davis declined to comment. Asked whether it had a cancellation policy, David declined to comment.

Requests for comment from representatives for R. Kelly were not returned.

Earlier this week, four performances of Kelly’s fall tour — two in Louisiana, one in Los Angeles and one in Texas — were cancelled, for reasons unknown.

#MuteRKelly campaign organizer Kenyette Barnes is aware of Live Nation’s intentions to carry on with the concert.

“They’re not backing down, so we are at this point preparing to speak with members of our state legislature to cancel the concert, due to public concerns. Our next step at that point is to get the mayor of College Park, Georgia, to compel them to cancel the concert. And, if pressure from our public officials is unsuccessful, when the contract is up for re-bid, [we plan] to request other candidates to administer the venue.”

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Chilean Lawmakers Ease Abortion Restrictions — But Will The Court Agree?

During a march last month in favor of President Michelle Bachelet’s bill, a demonstrator displays a handkerchief with an embroidered image of a uterus and the word “free” in Spanish.

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Esteban Felix/AP

For decades, Chile has boasted one of the world’s strictest abortion bans. Passed in the final years of dictator Augusto Pinochet’s reign, the rule has for nearly three decades outlawed the procedure without exception, placing Chile among just a few countries worldwide to do so.

Lawmakers voted to relax that law Wednesday, allowing abortions in three cases: when the pregnancy resulted from rape, when the mother’s life is in danger and when the fetus is unviable. President Michelle Bachelet, who has long fought to roll back the country’s abortion ban, says she will sign the measure into law.

“Today women recover a basic right that we never should have lost: to decide when we go through moments of pain,” Bachelet tweeted Wednesday.

Hoy las mujeres recuperamos un derecho básico que nunca debimos perder: decidir cuando vivimos momentos de dolor. #YoApoyo3Causales

— Michelle Bachelet (@mbachelet) August 3, 2017

Still, the fight is not over.

That’s because it still requires approval from Chile’s Constitutional Court, which resolves disputes on whether a law complies with the country’s constitution. The conservative opposition already requested a ruling from the tribunal, alleging in a 67-page document that the bill violates the constitutional mandate to “protect the life that is about to be born,” according to Telesur TV.

The legislation — in its several different iterations — has been the subject of years of bitter debate, and it was only a last-minute change to the bill that enabled it to cobble together enough votes to pass the Senate.

Now, the bill’s fate in could depend on how long the court takes to render its decision.

The head of the tribunal, a center-left Bachelet appointee considered supportive of the bill, is expected to be the swing vote in the ruling — but he will be stepping down when his mandate ends August 29. At that point, he will be replaced by conservative judge Ivan Arostica, who is thought to be firmly anti-abortion.

For now, though, advocates have expressed hope for the measure, which Bloomberg reports more than 70 percent of Chileans support.

“This is historic, a great triumph that will allow Chilean women to feel safe,” said Claudia Dides, director of advocacy group Miles Chile, told the outlet. “We think that the Constitutional Court will solve this quickly because no one wants to see it becoming tangled in the political agenda for the next presidential election.”

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When Sex Becomes A Grind(r): '4 Days In France'

Bon App-etit: Pierre (Pascal Cervo) is guided by Grindr in 4 Days In France.

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In 4 Days in France, a mesmerizing road movie by first-time director Jerome Reybaud, a young gay Parisian named Pierre (Pascal Cervo) packs his bags at dawn and leaves his sleeping lover, Paul (Arthur Igual). Departing the capital for a radically unstructured odyssey around a rural France enchantingly free of glam movie-Frenchiness, Pierre is guided by his Grindr app, with Paul in irritable pursuit behind him. Think of this less as a high concept premise than a tender and serious-minded joke that laces together Pierre’s random encounters with strangers both male and female, whose often grumpy wisdom will bring him a diffuse enlightenment he doesn’t yet know he needs.

Played by Cervo with an elusive solemnity that’s comical and sad as needed, Pierre emerges as an iffy narrator of his own motives, though he catches on to his illusions early enough to toss a cherished manuscript out of his Alfa Romeo (sedan, not convertible) after saving it from the clutches of a girl thief. But Pierre’s manners are gentlemanly, and he’s gloriously open-minded even when flaming out as a sexual flaneur. There’s a heap of carnal effort but not much completed action in 4 Days in France, one of whose subjects is an inquiry, at once goofy and endearingly earnest, into the delights and limitations of the hook-up. One of Pierre’s few satisfying trysts, with a bumpkin Adonis who’s very keen to get to Paris, is only erotic if you ignore the socks left on. Another less successful attempt to solicit oral sex brings out the philosopher in an older local. Once you actually start getting to know one another, he informs, it’s all over for casual sex. They have a nice chat instead while the old gent helps with his godson’s homework.

4 Days in France is no more a “gay movie” than it is a “road movie.” Few if any of the plot points we’d expect from either actually come to pass, so if you see a sad man gazing down from a cliff top don’t go expecting him to hurl himself off it. The film is better grasped as a disjointed saunter, with deep existential underpinnings, through a France that’s not for the export market. The landscape through which Pierre and Paul travel is equal parts alpine splendor, seedy car dealerships and automat motels (“the f—-ing Auvergne!” yells Paul in frustration as he hits his umpteenth blind alley).

Reybaud embraces it all while shunning conventional narrative. Yet there’s a thread here, or more precisely shards of illumination from unexpected sources, most of them from slightly crazy but sage older women like Pierre’s extravagantly over-the-top diva of an aunt (Judith Joubert), a wanderer all her life who urges him to embrace his adventures but to always look closely wherever he goes because, she warns sadly, “It’s the last time.”

In the country Pierre and Paul find, not the close-knit communities we fondly imagine to persist outside of our atomized big cities, but a fragmented world that nonetheless gifts them with moments of rough but sustaining communion and gallantry. C’est la vie, Reybaud implies, for pretty much all of us. By the end of their long and winding road we will know, after a fashion, why Pierre left Paul. And that this may not be what matters. At the end, after unloading a heartfelt story from his childhood, Paul turns to hear his lover’s response, only to discover that he has fallen fast asleep at last.

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In Harrowing 'Detroit,' Kathryn Bigelow Mixes Brutal Facts With Fiction

John Boyega plays security guard Melvin Dismukes in Detroit.

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Twenty-two years ago, Kathryn Bigelow made Strange Days — a paranoid thriller written and produced by her former spouse James Cameron, set in the then-future of 1999. Inspired in part by the 1992 Los Angeles riots — which were sparked by the acquittal of the LAPD officers who’d beaten Rodney King near to death — the movie’s plot involved the murder of black hip-hop artist “Jeriko One” by a pair of white Los Angeles cops.

As ambitious as it was unwieldy, Strange Days flopped so hard that Bigelow’s career took years to recover. But she landed on her feet, becoming the first and so far only woman to win the Academy Award for best director, for the Iraq war movie The Hurt Locker, which also won best picture.Her follow-up, Zero Dark Thirty, got a Best Picture nod, too. And that’s how a sexagenarian woman in Hollywood earns the juice to make a movie like the incendiary new Detroit — Bigelow’s vivid, inevitably divisive reenactment of a real 1967 incident wherein three Motor City police officers were charged in the killings of three adolescent black men while the city was under martial law following riots.

Seemingly in a position to make any movie she wanted, she chose a lightly fictionalized historical drama that bares a striking resemblance to her little-seen Angela Bassett-starring sci-fi flick from 1995. (Strange Days even climaxes in a riot touched off by white police using excessive force on a black suspect, which is where Detroit begins.)

Until now, the highest-profile accounting of what happened that night was John Hersey’s 1968 book The Algiers Motel Incident. (Hersey’s estate declined to sell Bigelow and Boal the rights, The New York Times reported.) Detroit isn’t as dispassionate as that. Just as the movie Hidden Figures buffed and polished the story told in the eponymous nonfiction book for maximum uplift, Detroit heats and sharpens the facts that formed it for maximum outrage.

Not that those facts weren’t outrageous already: In the case Detroit revisits, the cops were acquitted after the confessions they gave and then recanted were ruled inadmissible in court. That’s a cruel irony, because it was in their attempt to coerce confessions from the young men they’d confined in Detroit’s Algiers Motel — a $6-a-night flophouse that the law considered a den of sin —that those out-of-control cops resorted to intimidation, torture, and finally murder. (The presence of two white girls from Ohio among all those black men appeared to inflame the cops’ further — they accused the women of prostitution, stripping and beating them.) The police claimed a sniper had fired upon them from inside the motel, but they never recovered a rifle from the scene. Detroit subscribes to accounts from several witnesses that the shots that summoned the police came from a starter pistol fired first as a stupid prank, then as an impotent and costly gesture of defiance. Carl Cooper, the 17-year-old who’d allegedly fired it, was the first to die that night.

One of the witnesses who testified for the prosecution, and who said he was assaulted by the accused policemen himself at the Algiers, was a musician. Singer Larry Reed quit his vocal group The Dramatics after that hellish night in 1967; the group broke out a few years later and had a long career without him. (They’re still touring.) Reed was one of the incident’s key figures that Detroit screenwriter (and frequent Bigelow collaborator) Mark Boal interviewed while working on the movie. And though Boal’s research team included Pulitzer Prize-winning Detroit Free Press reporter David Zeman, he has used his artistic license to plug some gaps in the legal record. (Other limits on the film’s authenticity were merely budgetary, like the fact that tax incentives resulted in most of Detroit being filmed on location in… Boston.)

Boal’s script commingles real and fictional people: Real-life witnesses Melvin Dismukes, Julie Hysell, and Larry Reed (played onscreen by John Boyega, Hannah Murray, and Algee Smith, respectively), are represented, but the brutal cops in the movie have different names than the officers who were eventually acquitted of the Algiers Motel killings. Their ringleader is played by Will Poulter, a redheaded, freckled 24-year-old English actor whose permanently right-angled eyebrows make him look like the satanic cousin of MAD magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman. “We’ve failed these people,” he says early in the film, sounding like a peace-loving Hubert Humphrey voter moments before he fatally shoots one of “these people” in the back on suspicion of stealing groceries. A detective tells him he’s recommending that the District Attorney file murder charges against him, but Poulter’s character is sent right back out to active duty in the meantime. Did this really happen? Well, there was a riot on.

Other credulity-straining aspects of Detroit appear to be factual: For one thing, Dismukes, a private security guard called in to protect a store near the Algiers from looters, was allowed to enter the Algiers with a weird coalition of Detroit cops and National Guardsmen and remain at a crime scene for hours while trying, ineffectually, to prevent the cops from brutalizing their suspects. (Boyega radiates Denzel-like calm in the face of the storm, proving that the way he livened the The Force Awakens was no fluke — he’s a bonafide movie star. And to see him in a role where he’s essentially helpless is unusual, and compelling.) In real life, Dismukes was charged with the felonious assault of two of the suspects and tried before any of the three cops accused of more serious offenses were; an all-white jury acquitted him. To the extent Detroit addresses this, it implies an unsuccessful attempt by the police to frame Dismukes for their own wrongdoing.

I’m also curious to know whether another one of its plot points is historical or invented: When Michigan State Police arrive at the Algiers, the ranking officer among them decides he wants no part of the “civil rights mix-up” the Detroit P.D. has already created, so the state troopers just drive away. What’s the expression? Huge if true.

Bigelow and Boal’s recreation of a 50-year-old police brutality case seems bound to be as controversial as their last project, 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty.Accused in some quarters of defending the C.I.A.’s use of torture in its decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty was really more of a high-tone Rorshach blot for each viewer’s opinion of the endless War on Terror. Bigelow has always gone for immersion before reflection or judgment.

“I don’t think it’s up to the filmmaker to judge,” the director told Washington Post chief film critic Ann Hornaday in a profile published last week. And it’s not as though she’s only just become interested in identity politics or policing: Long before her metamorphosis into an Oscar-winning maker of Important Films, she made 1990’s Blue Steel, a sordid thriller that starred Jamie Lee Curtis as a rookie patrol officer who comes under suspicion after she kills a robbery suspect whose weapon can’t be found. It’s not a particularly good movie, nor one that would remotely satisfy any 2017 test of its wokeness, but it is at least more evidence that Bigelow was thinking about the problems of policing even when she was just making pulp films.

Bigelow’s quasi-journalistic style has long alienated some viewers; now it’s infuriating them, too. Chicago critic Angelica Jade Bastien slammed Detroit as “soulless,” claiming it isn’t harsh enough in its condemnation of the misconduct it depicts so mercilessly. Some of her specific complaints about Boal’s screenplay — that it makes Melvin Dismukes “too passive a character,” or that “there are also brief, disconcerting moments that present some white cops in a great light” — come from the moments where Boal hews closest to the firsthand accounts Dismukes and Reed shared with him. Dismukes says he did all he could to prevent the bloodshed, which wasn’t much, and Reed says that after he fled the Algiers he was picked up and taken to the hospital by a cop—one who wasn’t involved in the nightmare at the hotel. Molding facts into the emotional construct we refer to when use the word story is messy work, even when it’s done in good faith.

I’ve seen Detroit only once, but I’m of the option that Bigelow and Boal have done that good but messy work, resulting in a movie that is maddeningly imperfect but still honorable. The movie opens with a semi-animated sequence that fashions Jacob Lawrence’s “Migration Series” of paintings into a primer on the mass movement of African-Americans from the rural south to the urban north and west after World War I, and the subsequent white flight to the suburbs. That meant that by the 1960s, Detroit was a majority-black city with a majority-white police force.

It’s to Bigelow’s credit that she doesn’t survey the worlds in which she sets her movies in schematic screenwriting terms: Detroit’s early scenes, wherein a police raid on an unlicensed nightclub that’s hosting a party for returning veterans sparks a riot, includes a few left turns — one of the black party guests who mouths off to the “pigs” turns out to be a narc, for example. This detail serves no narrative purpose; it only serves to underscore the absence of trust between the police and the citizens they’re sworn to protect and serve. Editor Billy Goldenberg splices in documentary footage with the newly-shot material in this section of the movie, creating a panorama of the climate of mortal fear and volcanic anger between the citizens and the police.

We begin to get our bearings when Reed (Algee Smith) and The Dramatics prepare to perform on a revue at the Fox Theatre where they know a Motown A&R scout will be in the audience. When the police order the performance stopped and the Fox evacuated, and then their bus home is set upon by rioters, Reed and his friend Fred Temple (Jacob Latimore) make the ill-fated decision to wait out the curfew poolside at the Algiers.

The police occupation of the Algiers forms the film’s harrowing, quite long centerpiece. Bigelow uses all her gifts as a communicator of visceral sensation to summon the horror of spending a night under these vicious cops’ bootheels. It’s nauseating. By the time Anthony Mackie — playing an out-of-work Vietnam vet who gets thanked for his service by being beaten and spat on by cops — agrees never to speak of what he’s witnessed, Bigelow and Boal have said all they have to say.

But Detroit continues on to depict the trial of the three officers, leaking tension as it does. If the intent of this section of the film is to illustrate that these cops are not bad apples but rather the functioning-as-designed armature of an inherently racist justice system, it’s only partially successful. The tactics their lawyer (John Krasinski, weirdly) uses to discredit the prosecution’s witnesses are as familiar as the Algiers scenes are revolting, and our rage circuits have already blown.

Maybe it’s just impossible for even a scene-setter as skilled as Bigelow to do anything new in a courtroom. The coda she chooses, showing Larry Reed’s resolution to continue his musical career in a far more modest fashion than before, has nothing to do with consoling the audience after 135 minutes of trauma. It’s about Reed becoming a militant for peace. It’s about him making a choice to survive. If nothing else, Detroit gets you thinking about how those might be the same thing.

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'Columbus' Is Soulless, By Design

Jin (John Cho) and Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) find respite in one another and the architecture that surrounds them.

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Imagine Lost In Translation set in a much sleepier metropolis than Tokyo. That’s Columbus, which derives its title from its Indiana locale, a small city known for many buildings designed by notable modernist architects.

Like Sofia Coppola’s movie, Columbus is a not-quite-romance between a middle-aged man and a woman who’s barely out of high school. Pseudonymous Korean-American writer-director Kogonada even tweaks Coppola’s East-West ploy: Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) is a native Midwesterner; Korean-born Jin (John Cho) has no trace of an accent, but frequently talks on his phone in unsubtitled Korean, apparently about his work as a, yup, translator.

Both characters are, of course, in limbo. Casey professes to love Columbus, yet is actually staying there to look out for her mom (Michelle Forbes), a recovering drug addict. Jin is summoned to Indiana after his father, an architect and scholar, collapses while in town to deliver a lecture.

Casey seems genuinely fond of her mother, who has not one but two dead-end jobs. Jin isn’t close to his dad, but filial duty requires him to stay with the comatose man until he either dies or gets well enough to travel.

For variety, Kogonada introduces two other not-quite-right romantic prospects. Casey works at the local library with Gabe (Rory Culkin), but their mutual attraction never comes precisely into sync. Jin has long had a crush on the older and unavailable Eleanor (Parker Posey), an associate of his father.

The movie’s location is essential to its mood, but also to its story and characterization. Casey and Jin drop the names of numerous architects, and the even the dean of Yale’s architecture school. Tour groups regularly walk though scenes, lead by guides whose spiel on Columbus’ postwar landmarks Casey has both memorized and internalized. She’s fascinated by architecture, but then it’s the only game in town.

Casey and Jin spend much time together, and their activities include drinking, dancing, and even a bit of laughing. Yet they don’t seem to be having much fun. Columbus‘ tone could be termed cerebral, or maybe just becalmed.

The film is so spare because Kogonada takes his cues from the buildings that serve as his ready-made stage-set. Their simple lines, rigid geometry, and lack of embellishment dovetail with the script’s spartan construction, while Hammock’s burbling electro score is as stark as an I.M. Pei facade.

Even some of the movie’s visual gags are design-oriented. Jin, whose distance from his father has also estranged him from architecture, takes up residence in a Victorian-style bed and breakfast that seems to be the only large structure in Columbus without a Bauhaus pedigree.

Kogonada, who also edited, painstakingly frames the compositions. Many shots highlight building features, or place the characters precisely in doorways, reflected in multiple mirrors, or glimpsed through glass walls. Modernist architecture’s fetish for transparency becomes a narrative motif.

The director apparently took his alias from Kogo Noda, co-scripter of many Yasujiro Ozu films. Those are known for their austerity, but also their humanity. The latter quality is largely missing from Columbus.

Despite Richardson and Cho’s assured performances, their characters, dialogue, and relationship are never fully believable. From the unlikely gesture that begins it — a contemporary young woman offers a cigarette to an older male stranger — their connection feels contrived.

Casey and Jin are not, after all, fellow strangers in a strange land. They don’t even have an interest in architecture in common. They’re more like miniature humans in a 3D model of a modernist structure, their slightly messy presence meant only to set off the purity of the overall scheme.

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North Korea Confusion Illustrates Trump Administration's Divide Over Foreign Policy

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said this week the U.S. is not seeking a regime change in North Korea. That’s in contrast to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who suggested last month that he would like to see Kim Jong-un removed from power. Former diplomats say it’s the latest example of a less-than-coherent Trump administration foreign policy, where it’s not clear who’s in charge.

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