When a Vienna museum guard befriends an enigmatic visitor, the grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum becomes a mysterious crossroads which sparks explorations of their lives, the city, and the ways artworks reflect and shape the world.
In the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna, Johann is a security guard who finds a special quiet magic at the institution. One day, a Canadian woman arrives on a compassionate visit to the city, and the two strike up a friendship through their appreciation of art. That relationship helps put all the other goings on at the museum and in the city in perspective as Johann observes and participates in them in a world where art can say so much more than a casual visitor might know. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It's hard to review a film this incredible, but I'll try.
MUSEUM HOURS looked like it might be kind of boring, but after watching, I can't see why any more or less adult person would not be intrigued by at least certain aspects of this film. Though pretty distractible, I was held spellbound from start to finish. Like most people, I generally like a strong plot-line with tension, surprises, and all of that. While MUSEUM HOURS has very solid character development and cohesion between its scenes, it just isn't a story-story and is one of those rare films that doesn't need much sequence of events. It's far less depressing than it may appear and actually quite funny in certain--naked people casually strolling the Kunsthistoriches, Johann's narration of missing strategic body parts on ancient sculptures--places.
This film is, of course, all about art imitating life and vice versa. But don't let that scare you off. It's totally lacking in pretense and plays no tricks with its audience, carrying the casual viewer along with it. If I'm making MUSEUM HOURS sound like stoner-food, I can only say that it's a drug of the very best kind. Brilliantly simple, without any of the obscurantist b.s. we often encounter in films of this sort.
There's a lot about Bruegel, one of the few painters who's ever meant much to me. Yet, even if Bruegel doesn't move you, other things in this film most likely will. A myriad of miscellaneous images, some "everyday," some "famous art": MUSEUM HOURS gives new insights into even the simplest, oft-ignored imagery. You'll never be able to look at another landscape--real, imagined, on canvas, whatever--in a cursory way again. Forgive me, but MUSEUM HOURS is truly mind-expanding.
The biggest reason why this film succeeds in being artsy without any of the negative connotations of that term is that it's narrated by Johann, a guard at the famous museum in Vienna who, though he's never been a particular fan of painting, has had much time to stare idly at the artwork--which, of course, includes the visitors and everything else around him--until it becomes so familiar that he notices new details and meanings with every view. Anne, the visitor from Montreal who likes art-in-general but is in Vienna mainly to visit her sister in the hospital, provides further perspectives in her conversations with Johann. There is also a very memorable five minutes with Gerda, amazingly keen in her descriptions but still friendly and open-minded with her tour group.
I don't give ten stars to many films, but anything less would be an injustice here. Though I'm sure that I'd EVENTUALLY grow tired of it, I could watch MUSEUM HOURS every night for quite a while.
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