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Bonds us to a world of stillness
howard.schumann21 July 2013
"The real voyage of discovery lies in not seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes" - Marcel Proust

Jem Cohen's Museum Hours moves art beyond the confines of a stuffy museum and takes it out into the streets of Vienna where its profound observations make irrelevant the artificial distinction between art and life. Cohen widens our view of what is "inside" the museum to include what is "outside," not as a separate part of the experience but as an integrated whole. The film is narrated by Johann (Bobby Sommer), a soft-spoken museum guard at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna who, after spending his younger days traveling with rock bands, has worked at the museum for the past six years, getting to know each painting intimately. His favorite room is the Bruegel room where Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel's depictions of 16th century peasant life touch him most deeply.

Having just arrived from Montreal to visit her cousin who is in a coma, Anne (Mary Margaret O'Hara) seeks advice from Johann about directions to the hospital. As the two talk about the city, they develop a friendship and he acts as her tour guide, escorting her to visit ancient and modern sites in Vienna. As the experience opens him to a renewed appreciation of the city and its history, the camera focuses its attention on city life in a way that allows us to notice details that we may have never seen before: young boys on skateboards in the park, an old woman walking up a hill flanked by red cars, the walls of an ancient church, abandoned beer cans on the sidewalk, the faces of pedestrians huddled in the cold waiting for a bus, the boarded-up storefront of a store, and the give and take of bargaining at a local flea market.

Johann and Anne also spend time in the hospital where they talk to Anne's cousin who cannot hear them. Johann describes in details some of the paintings of Rembrandt from memory "all very dark and wise-looking," while Anne sings her a lovely ballad. The narrative of the woman and her cousin develops slowly but the film is not about the story, but about observation and our connection with the world. One of the film's highlights is the discussion of Bruegel by the tour guide (Ela Piplits) talking to a group of eager visitors. According to the guide, in a time of political repression carried out by the Duke of Alba, Bruegel's paintings were radical, "more radical than they might seem."

Dressing as a peasant to immerse himself in the culture of the poorer classes, Bruegel's depiction of the masses was not judgmental but focused on the small details of peasant life. As the director puts it, "This man (Breugel) took a very close, careful look at how working people, peasants lived and did it without a sentimental overlay, but with a respectful interest in the details of their lives." Another moving part of Johann's narration is his story about one of his coworkers, an art student who is no longer at the museum. As Johann tells us, the kid, whom he calls a "Marxist punk," ridiculed the idea of a museum, saying it is all about money and that the still lifes of famous artists are the equivalent of piles of Rolex watches, champagne bottles, and flat-screen TVs.

Though Johann obviously disagrees with this assessment, he does not put the student down, dismiss his objections, or find the need to offer a defense. Museum Hours is a riveting experience that bonds us to a world of stillness, beyond the limits of our sense perception. The film helps us to see with new eyes, enabling us to move towards a deeper, more truthful experience of ourselves and the world, one in which a young black boy in a hoodie is as rare and beautiful as a Rembrandt.
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Slow? That's what it's about.
michaeljayallen17 July 2013
I left the theater in a sort of observational trance, and vowed to get to the Metropolitan Museum ASAP and back to Vienna as soon as I can.

I'll admit I'm kind of like the characters in the film. If you are a 13 year old boy whose favorite movie is The Transformers this might not be for you. Then again, you might learn something. There isn't much plot and there isn't much conflict but it isn't about plot or conflict. It's about art and life and to me it wasn't irritatingly slow at all and I wouldn't have cut a second. The pace and observational tone of the film are necessary to what it's about.

The two nonactor main character actors do a wonderful job. They aren't called on to do a lot off complex stuff, and maybe they wouldn't cut it as Martha and George, but they are perfect here.

The film has a lot to say about art and life, without being in any way didactic. The only part that I had the least impatience with was the scene with the somewhat annoying curator lecturing a group, although it did serve its purpose of making some points about the art while revealing a bit about the observers of art as well. There is also one scene that stands out in its sudden deviation from the flat observational realism of the rest of the film into a bit of symbolic surrealism but it's not without meaning either.

Most of the film is about quiet introspective moments. One scene that isn't is of Johann and Anne joining in with patrons at the bar drinking and dancing to ethnic music on Immigrant Night. (Really, I think that's what they called it). Later, thinking about Breugel's Peasant Wedding...
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We Are All Subjects in a Painting by Pieter Bruegel
GeneSiskel3 August 2014
This is a mostly plot less, mostly reflective, semi-serious, semi-whimsical movie with the tone of a PBS documentary. It is a lot like a landscape painting. It will work best for photographers, lovers of photography and Pieter Bruegel the Elder, museum goers who routinely rent audio guides, and anyone else predisposed to view the condition of humans in the 21st century as alternately harsh and exuberant (or punctuated by esthetic surprises), hemmed in by the state, and leading inevitably to the grave. Have a good life.

A woman from Montreal, in Vienna to visit a hospitalized childhood friend, meets a taciturn guard at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and together they take in the city and its inhabitants, which together become a reflection of the art housed in the museum.

"Museum Hours" is a bit ponderous at times but rarely slow.
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"Why in the darkness do I see so clearly?"
doug_park200128 February 2014
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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One Of Those Movies That Help Us See Better And Think
lchadbou-326-2659211 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I've liked the earlier work I've seen by independent film maker Jem Cohen,who has experience in documentary and punk rock. (Museum Hours is co-produced by Patti Smith.) This new movie straddles the borders between his non fiction background and a made up story, as it shows us two characters played by non professional actors and presents a number of scenes that could very well be real.(One probable exception, the episode where visitors to Vienna's prestigious art museum are naked.)The key scene in "Museum Hours" leaves the main characters behind for a lengthy time as we watch a lecture by a lady docent in that museum's Bruegel room, an articulate presentation on that artist's depictions of peasant life. The idea we most take away from this woman's talk is that the main points of interest in a painting are not necessarily its ostensible subject. Thus in a canvas on Saint Paul we are drawn to a boy with a helmet and even the rear ends of several horses! Similarly at one or two points in the movie instead of continuing the story of a museum guard and a visiting tourist we are invited to look at a street flea market in windy weather, with its accumulation of things. Cohen also uses a technique I like where instead of always giving us the soundtrack that matches the visuals at that moment, there is sometimes a disjunction between audio and image (For example while we are seeing something else we hear the recorded guide that patrons listen to.) Cohen also plays with a contrast in texture between digital (for the interiors) and 16mm (for the exteriors) though unfortunately this aspect doesn't come across in the DVD that has been made, The DVD however does have some fascinating comments by the director, with which I sympathize, on the distinction between movies that dictate to us where to look and how to feel, and those that invite our eyes to wander, to shift between foreground and background, that leave us more free to make our own connections. In sum, as a movie centered on a museum this is a more stimulating work than Sokurov's showy one-shot wonder on the Hermitage, Russian Ark, which has gotten more of the critical attention.
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Fascinating Meditation on the Relationship between Art and Life
l_rawjalaurence14 December 2013
Nothing much happens in MUSEUM HOURS in terms of plot: the action focuses on the experiences of a guard at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (Bobby Sommer), as he observes the different types of visitor and reflects on the exhibits in the art gallery. He has a chance encounter with Anne (Mary Margaret O'Hara), a Canadian visitor who has come to see her sick relative in Vienna; and together they visit different parts of Vienna, as well as making regular visits to the hospital. Filmed on a minuscule budget. Jem Cohen's film reflects on the relationship between art and film, concentrating in particular on how (and whether) paintings by the Old Masters 'speak' to different types of viewer. Through brilliant use of visual compositions, Cohen shows how the daily rituals of Viennese life bear a strong similarity to those compositions portrayed in the paintings (for example, the work of Brueghel). This is designed to prove how the artists drew their inspiration from life, as well as their imagination. Other sequences are quasi-surrealistic - at one point we see three visitors to the museum who are naked, adopting poses very similar to those represented in the paintings. This technique emphasizes the importance of the imagination in the way we look at paintings. The relationship between art and life is reinforced by Johann's voice-over, as he reflects on the paintings, the visitors, and his reactions to both at any given moment. Beautifully shot (by Cohen and Peter Roehsler) in muted colors on a series of winter days, MUSEUM HOURS is a masterpiece of cinema, reflecting on the viewer's relationship to visual objects.
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Slow-paced, art-house indie, with weak plot, still has its charms, with steady focus on famed Viennese Art Museum
Turfseer15 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Jem Cohen's 'Museum Hours' has all the hallmarks of a typical indie 'art-house' production: slow-paced, intellectual and attempting to draw that important connection between life and art.

The plot is perhaps the film's weakest link. The protagonist is 'Anne' who doesn't have much of a back story. What we do find out is that Anne is Canadian and needs to borrow money from a friend so she can visit a long-lost cousin in Vienna, who is dying from a terminal illness.

The cousin never wakes up from the coma she's in and we find out nothing about her at all. Anne's desire to visit her cousin is basically a device to move her to Vienna where she visits the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum and meets a kindly tour guide, Johann.

Johann ends up serving as the film's narrator, commenting on the various paintings and other works of art in the museum. He also shows Anne around Vienna and comforts her when her cousin passes away.

A good part of the film focuses on the paintings of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, which are housed in the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum. In fact, approximately one third of the surviving paintings of Bruegel, can be found in that museum. There is a very interesting lecture presented by a lecturer at the museum concerning Bruegel which is featured around the film's midpoint. This is perhaps the highlight of the entire film.

The rest of the film focuses on Johann's observations regarding the multitude of people who visit the museum everyday. Of particular interest, are the reactions of teenage visitors, who seem to be most collectively interested in the paintings that feature people who have had their heads chopped off.

Director Cohen also attempts to draw a parallel between everyday scenes of life in Vienna to the subjects that can be seen of the people from long ago, in the paintings we view at the museum.

'Museum Hours' is interesting when it focuses on the paintings and works of art at the museum as well as the observations of its visitors. Johann also is an interesting character whose commentary throughout the film, pulls one in. But Anne is too much of a sad sack and the narrative regarding the dying cousin, is significantly devoid of conflict.

It's hard to get really excited about 'Museum Hours' due to the weak plot. But there's a great deal of interesting information here about Bruegel's paintings that is worth a look. For those who are particularly enamored with art-house flicks, this film will be probably be high up on your list.
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A unique departure from standard filmmaking
Red-12526 September 2014
Museum Hours (2012) is a unique film, written and directed by Jem Cohen. One of the stars, Mary Margaret O'Hara added "additional dialogue."

Although I described this movie as "a unique departure from standard filmmaking," it does have a plot. The plot is conventional enough. Mary Margaret O'Hara plays Anne, a middle-aged Canadian woman who isn't exactly poor, but has to borrow the money to travel from Montreal to Vienna to be with her desperately sick cousin, who is hospitalized.

Bobby Sommer plays Johann, a guard at the famous Kunsthistoriches Museum. They meet and interact, and become friends. (No romance--Johann lets Clara, and us, know that he's gay.) They see each other in the museum, they go out for dinner, and sometimes they act like tourists. It sounds conventional enough, but it isn't.

It isn't conventional because Jem Cohen doesn't really believe in narrative. He's a documentary filmmaker, but he doesn't exactly create the documentary. He goes somewhere, shoots a lot of video, and then fashions that into a documentary. I haven't seen any of his documentaries, but watching "Museum Hours" makes it fairly clear what they'd look like. That's because, every so often, Cohen swerves from his narrative, and shows us streets in Vienna, trains, churches, stores, statues. This isn't the tourists' Vienna, but Cohen doesn't just show us grime and degradation either. We start to get a sense of what this large city looks like. (Also, a sense of the Kunsthistoriches Museum, where my wife and I spent seven hours, and could have spent more. It has a great collection.)

This is somewhat unusual filmmaking, but it gets more unusual. Cohen devotes 11 minutes to a (staged) docent presentation by a woman named Gerda. The role is played by an actor name Ela Piplets. She's called a "Visiting Lecturer" because the museum didn't want anyone to think that she was really a museum employee. Gerda discusses some of the museum's many paintings done by Pieter Breughel the Elder. It's a really great lecture. What makes it more amazing is that Piplets doesn't speak English! Can you imagine giving a long lecture, in barely accented English, when you're doing it by rote memory?

We saw this film at the wonderful Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House in Rochester, NY. Jem Cohen was present, and it's obvious by listening to him that he's going to make films his way, whether he gets rewarded for it or not. He's a very unusual person.

This film will work well enough on the small screen, but it's probably better to see it in a theater. It's really great to see it with the filmmaker present to answer questions. In any event, this movie is worth seeking out and viewing. How often do you see a narrative film (well, sort of) made by a director who doesn't like narrative filmmaking? This is that film.

Note: Cineaste reviewed this film in its Summer 2014 magazine. There's some excellent information about this movie on pages 66 and 67.
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A welcome focus on people who would normally be ignored
proud_luddite10 November 2019
A guard at the great Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna has an uplifting experience as he befriends a woman from Montreal who is visiting the city to visit an ailing relative in a hospital. They have many reflective discussions about life and art. This film is an Austrian/American co-production.

As both characters are presumably over fifty, there are many interesting observations of life and of the world they have seen pass by. Considering the characters' age group plus the fact that they are not financially well off, the viewer is given a rare chance to observe people that might be normally dismissed in the film world but who are fascinating nonetheless.

Director/writer Jem Cohen has many fascinating shots of Vienna and the museum during the bleak winter. These shots (many outside tourist sites) would not be included in tourist brochures but they still have their own special beauty.

Aside from the fine conversations, there are other interesting asides. The best is a guided museum tour lead by an interesting guide who knows her subject well but is still open-minded to what others in her group have to say. This openness is challenged as one member of her group seems a bit pompous and argumentative. It might be no coincidence that the pompous group member is seen reading his iPhone at the beginning of the tour.

Much of this film is beautiful mainly for its unique approach. This unique approach, however, would have worked better within a more condensed time (it runs almost one and three-quarters hours). Deliberately leaving out subtitles during the occasional German dialogue was also upsetting. But despite these shortcomings, "Museum Hours" is still a gem in its own special way.
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Artful Dodger
jadepietro17 September 2013
Museum Hours

This film is not recommended.

"Lost in the dangling conversation, And the superficial sighs, In the borders of our lives." - Lyrics from Paul Simon's The Dangling Conversation

Jem Cohen's Museum Hours is a personal treatise about the impact of art upon our everyday lives. The film takes places mostly at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in modern day Vienna. Amid the Flemish and medieval art, somewhere between the Egyptian sculptures and the Bruegel paintings sits Johann (Bobby Sommer), a security guard enamored by his work who casually observes the museum's visiting population as he philosophically debates the direct correlation between art and life's mysteries. He befriends Anne (Mary Margaret O'Hara), a Canadian woman in town to see her comatose cousin at a nearby hospital. Their friendship and dangling superficial conversations make up the majority of the film.

No doubt this is a very personal film for Cohen, the director and screenwriter, but for this moviegoer, it never quite came together. Much of Museum Hours is heavy-handed and pretentious. Too much of the time, the filmmaker seems too fixated on his artfully composed photographic images of townsfolk and objects seen on Austrian streets. He captures the city life but sacrifices any semblance of plot. Cohen belabors his non-existent story with dull dialog and sketchy characters that rarely provide any sudden revelations or insight on this aesthetic debate. Filled with philosophical wordplay, Museum Hours is an intellectual film caught up in its artistic self-importance.

The actors have no real chemistry either. One doesn't really care about the characters as they are written. Their times together are not the least bit memorable. Throughout the film, I felt like one trapped in a conversation with a party guest who has nothing much to say. Where the film does succeed is in Johann's philosophical observations about art and its place in our world. He questions art's timeliness, its overt sexual and violent messages, and its ability to speak with us emotionally, no doubt strong ideas in search of a coherent story.

It's the storytelling that is sub-par and the film meanders as much as its camera-work and direction. Cohen goes off course much of the time with scenes of nude visitors roaming the galleries or showcasing a flea market with discarded items set against a voice-over from a museum's interactive audio tour, anything to create a direct connection to art and the world. And speaking of tours, for some reason, we leave the film's semi-plot to take in a 20 minute guided lecture about Bruegel's artistic contributions that becomes the centerpiece of the story, which is actually the film's best and most interesting scene. Museum Hours never makes much sense. It celebrates the visual arts but says very little about it. Just how many shots of blackbirds and pigeons and cold urban cityscapes can one take for the sake of art?

Excluding the gorgeous close-ups of the artwork, of which there are many, Museum Hours is about as exciting as watching old paint dry. GRADE: C

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A clean blend between fine arts and human emotions
Reno-Rangan11 March 2014
I have forgotten how an art movie looks like. I am satisfied with this movie. It is good to see a movie like this after some time, especially after I was busy with Oscar event and nominee movies. Although the art movie is not my type, sometimes I get bored for its slow presentation, but sometimes I will be thrilled to enjoy those great visuals.

Movies without commercial values are kinda bores me. Sometime intense scenes and inappropriate scenes turn me off. There are many people who love this rare form of the movie, but my interest in those movies depends on what it deals. This movie was about art museum, I like paintings and drawing so managed to enjoy it.

This movie was like a documentary about an art museum from Austria. They concentrated more on art pieces to explain behind story of those. They just added a couple of characters in the movie with a story to start and end about the beautiful Vienna museum. Yeah, it worked so well, human emotions plus great fine arts, totally an awesome blend.

If you ask me, I would say it is an another form of 'Before Sunrise'. The whole movie takes place between two characters, Anne and Johan. Mostly they talk largely about paintings and Vienna city. It is a kinda educational purpose where we can get information about the city and its history. You won't like it just after a watch, it will take time. Day by day you will begin like it more and more, that is how this movie is made up of.
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Must have gone over my head because I hated it
jwbeller13 September 2013
My wife and I compared our dislike of this movie to that of a movie we saw the year we were married called Sparrows Can't Sing. In fact, I would like to see Sparrows again to see which is the worst, or if, with subtitles to understand the heavy English accents, Sparrows is much better than we thought. But, make no mistake, we found this movie a waste of two hours that we will never get back.

The movie takes place mostly in a museum and if you love museum art you may like this movie, but there's no guarantee. The very best part of the whole movie (or the least worse) is a tour of some of the art in the museum given in English to several tourist. During the movie, some time is spent in a hospital by the main actress talking and singing to her cousin who is in a prolonged coma. Again, completely missed the point of these parts of the movie.

When we got back home, I re-reviewed the critics ratings on Metacritic to see if I had misread them. I found that they hadn't change and the movie was still getting universal acclaim with the lowest rating being a 70. This is not the first time I have greatly disliked a movie that got universal acclaim (for example, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly comes to mind).

Unfortunately, I may some day feel compelled to waste another two hours and watch this movie when it comes out on DVD. Because my rating is so far out from the mainstream, I would want to double check if I missed something and my criticisms aren't justified.
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This movie epitomizes the phrase "self-indulgent filmmaker"
steven-leibson22 September 2013
For no apparently strong reason, a Montreal freelancer who can't afford it drops everything to fly to Vienna to be by the side of a cousin she hasn't seen for a very long time who has dropped into a coma. The Canadian has never been to Vienna and speaks no German. She's alone. During a trip to an art museum she meets an aging security guard and they develop a friendship as they explore the art in the museum, especially paintings by Bruegel, and some of the simpler pleasures of Vienna in the gray of winter.

Over numerous scenes in the museum, in the hospital, and in the city, nothing much happens but there's a lot of talk. What's the filmmaker saying with this film? Undoubtedly, part of the message is that real life imitates Bruegel's art. Part of the message is that life happens slowly, a little at a time. Unfortunately, these messages also come very slowly, as though sent by the filmmaker in Morse code.

I watched this movie with two close friends on a fall Sunday afternoon and we all had the same reaction to this movie. In the end, you would be well to classify this as a true "art" film, in more ways than one.
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Elegant Post-Modern Masterpiece
candace-798-60363721 September 2013
Museum Hours is a masterfully filmed discourse on contemporary and historic human life. Seen through the simple, immediate eyes of the protagonists, great artwork, discussions about it and the ordinary mundane activity of life and death, collide to remind us of our shared humanity. Then underneath all of this we see the artist's eye looking and seeing art everywhere: What it picks out in a world of detritus and makes rare. How it levels us and makes us profound.

I hadn't heard of Jem Cohen before, but he is a fantastic filmmaker! Museum Hours reminds me of My Dinner with Andre without the warmth of Wally Shawn. But with the same intelligence and intimacy, inviting us into a visionary world where the watcher becomes an actor in the drama of conversation. I love movies like this, where the director thinks deeply about the audience, about his discussion with us, about what he is saying, communicating to us, and who hopes- who cares--that we hear him.
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Something different
rogerdarlington18 September 2013
This film is a strong candidate for the slowest that i have seen in half a century of movie-going.

Set around the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna (which I have visited twice), at one level it is an examination of the nature and meaning of art and, at another level, a touching account of a platonic friendship between two elderly souls - a male Austrian museum attendant (played by Bobby Sommer) and a female Canadian visitor to the city in winter (Mary Margaret O'Hara).

The characters move slowly and talk slowly and such narrative as there is unfolds very slowly. American writer and director Jem Cohen is trying to do something different here, but he is appealing to a very limited art house audience. And, did I say? It is so slow.
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90 Minutes too long
Fraught4 December 2013
Museum Hours follows Anne, who goes to Vienna to be by the side of a dying relative in a coma. Whilst she is there, she meets and befriends Johann, a security guard at the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum. That's the story… nothing more, nothing less. The problem I have with the film is that I do get what it is trying to do, I get it, I really do, but why oh why spend an hour and 47 minutes telling a tale that could easily be told in 10 minutes. Never have I wished a film to end as much as this one. I found the film overly self-indulgent, bloated with nothing, and as empty as the shots it miss-frames. I was astounded at how much I disliked this film when it was done, I immediately went online to see if I wasn't a lonely voice on the film, but it would appear I might be! The film is getting rave reviews from around the world, yet I still cannot fathom out why?! As I said, I do get what the film was trying to do, but it was just 90 mins longer than it needed to be! During the screening of the film I attended, a number of people walked out, which speaks volumes to me. I stayed in the hope that something might happen and I will be rewarded for enduring the torturously slow pacing and lack of storytelling… I was wrong! The only positive aspect I found in the film, is it's a good anaesthetic! I nearly nodded off on a large number of occasions.
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Waste of time
order-2722 September 2013
I like a wide variety of movies, but the only reason that I managed to sit through this one was because I went with a friend. Even so, I so badly wanted to get out and go do something else with my day. This falls into what one might call "artsy fartsy"--something so wrapped up in being artistic that it doesn't actually get anywhere. If you like spending two hours watching images of art and images of real life that maybe looks like art, with occasional commentary about art, then this is for you. There's no plot--the blurbs and reviews that say things like "two people develop their relationship by a deeper understanding of art and the world around them" is nonsense--there's not enough plot there to actually be called a plot and not enough character development to really care about the few scenes in which they appear. So--lots of shots of heads, of birds, of drab scenes with red accents, never clear why. EVERYTHING in this movie is slow. Everything. Do not expect to have a single exciting or wake-up moment anywhere. There are probably a dozen funny lines. I suppose that you could come away with the message that art is life and life is art, but I don't have to sit for two hours seeing silent pictures of art and pictures of street scenes to get that message.
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Dire paint drying experience
robbeaus12 October 2013
Warning this film is a complete waste of 109 mins of your life, you WILL come away from the cinema feeling like you have lost something important in your life.

I have two dogs who are suffering from a mild stomach upset at the moment, and our daily inspection of their movement each day is so much more entertaining than this dire waste of space.

It starts of slow and progresses to a point of numbness that will represent your own bottom after sitting through this rubbish. There was a film about some mechanic in a garage a few years ago, which we felt at the time had plumbed the depths of crass nothingness. Museum Hours makes that film seem on reflection an Oscar contender.

There is nothing to redeem this film, even the artifacts on show and Brugels Art which features prominently which are wonders to behold, fail to pick this pail of Pooh up from the bottom of the well where it wants to live. None of the Actors made so much of the slightest effort to try and get the director to do what he was paid (well we think that was his role in this) rather than dwell on this private joke of a film. As somebody else has noted have I mentioned it was slow? Even the backdrop of Vienna failed to rescue this from it's who full lack of reason why?

If this sort of tripe can attract funding, then no wonder the film industry is in such a rock bottom place. I can only pine for what has been lost in the need to fund this!

This film is not for the purest it is not for the casual film buff it is not even for an aficionados of the work of Jem Cohen perhaps in the misguided belief that he is somehow related to the Cohen brothers themselves. This film is for the local rubbish tip (all copies that is) ASAP lest anybody else gets punished with 109 mins of this.
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"you can't win, but maybe one day everyone will lose less and both movies and museums will be free"
Giz_Medium2 November 2020
"you can't win, but maybe one day everyone will lose less and both movies and museums will be free". Jem's cohen's style, with long scenes and essay-like commentaries, this time having a character based story. Set in wien, it follows a fifty year-old or so ex-punk roadie turned museum employee who meets visitors at his work and share moments of conversations with them, that often starts around some art criticism. The other main character is a middle aged woman who came from montréal for a distant relative sick at the hospital, and starts to visit the museum to have a place to hang out sheltered from the cold.
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Beautiful Interiors but . . .
MtnShelby28 March 2014
This film primarily made me kick myself for never having visited the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum the two times I was in Vienna (shame on me). In between kicking myself, I enjoyed the focus on Bruegel's paintings and the museum interior. I even enjoyed the potted plant scene with the guest lecturer explaining the paintings. The images of Vienna were beautifully rendered, and made for such a contrast with the usual posh images we associate with Vienna (which certainly was the point, or one of the points). So, this was a Vienna with which I as a former tourist was unfamiliar--well done, the film shook me out of my longings for tourist Vienna, sachertorte, and waltzes. But oh, if the film had only stuck with the inner life of the museum and the museum guard, his isolation, his anonymity, and his dedication to the museum and its great works of art. . . what a much richer viewing experience, at least for me. From the first scene introducing Anne with her cousin in a coma (oh dear), I felt my interest challenged. She seemed to me a completely unnecessary and irksome character, always in need of something . . . money, directions, companionship, whatever. The friendship with the museum guard was so dimly lit for me, their escape into the surrounding area a distraction, the scenes in the hospital a chore. Perhaps this was the intent, but I don't think so. I would much have preferred to explore the museum guard and his existence. Or another museum guard, maybe one in the next room, a guard with a family and happy home life to which the solitary Johann has neither access nor invitation. Or perhaps more Bruegel paintings. Or any of the other paintings.

This film would make an interesting pairing with The Mill and the Cross (2011), which I admit I could not make it through for reasons outside of this review. The DVD of Museum Hours comes with a very nice pamphlet explaining the genesis of the film, and its inclusion was a nice surprise. Overall, this is a film worth watching, but not one to get excited about.
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Slow and Meaningless
nataliy_spivak16 June 2014
I was interested in seeing this film because I love art and seeing movies that are not main stream and have something different to show. When I first watched the trailer for this film it looked like a story that intersected the beauty and art of the museum with a friendship that would form between a security guard working there and a woman visiting her ill cousin and their bond over the art and life. Boy was the trailer misleading. I appreciate "art house" films and those that want to portray something different but this was so terrible that I struggled to stay awake pretty much throughout.

I was strongly contemplating not finishing it at all but I felt bad for the time I invested into watching some of it already and kept hoping that maybe something more would happen and it never did. There was no character development or any connection between the characters at all. You could as easily just film people walking by on the street and probably have more excitement then what was portrayed here. There was no plot nor any connection between any of the scenes. I think as far as a film it deserves less than 1 star, I gave it 2 because I did enjoy seeing the pictures of some of the art but those would be better served perhaps in a documentary about the city, here it had no connection to anything.

I don't understand all of the high reviews that this movie is getting. This is just one of those films that is 'artsy' for the sake of being 'artsy' with no point or reason. Don't waste your time with this one, you'd have more fun watching random people walk by on the street.
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this movie:art :: hair:life
mamlukman3 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
If you didn't get the analogy, that's OK, because this movie is much like it. I think the other reviewers who gave it a 1 were, like myself, constrained by the scale, which does not allow negative scores. If any movie deserved a negative score, this is it. OK, yes, it's comparing life around us to art. And so? I got that in the first few frames. You didn't need to pound me on the head at the end. But IS art like life? Well, no, of course not. Art is selective (which of course proves this movie is NOT art…). Art is ABOUT something. Art is emotionally moving. If (?) the movie is trying to compare itself to Bruegel, then something is really, really out of whack. Sure, Bruegel is painting scenes of everyday life, but they are scenes observed from a certain angle containing a host of details you would not see together in real life. There is humor, etc. etc. I have absolutely no idea what the movie was trying to do other than fill in almost two hours of my time. Unbelievable that I watched it all the way through, but I gave it a fair chance! Be warned! Nothing to see here, move along!!
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A movie hiding inside
czsme10 March 2019
There is a beautiful movie hiding inside this movie. All it would take to come alive is a judicious editor and a few added scenes.
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Agree With Those Who Didn't Get It
TheCinemaMan12 December 2015
Critics went gaga. Some reviewers went gaga. Rented the movie based on gagaisms. Still trying to figure out why all the gaga. There are many slow movies that actually say something but this does not fall into that category. The movie is "held together" by the thinnest of "plots" providing an excuse to cruise Vienna in the wintertime (and totally discourage anyone from going there that time of year!) and cruise the KMS. Yes, it's nice that a friendship develops but we got that early on. It's fun to hear the museum guard reminisce about his job; at least there was some variety. As another reviewer has said, the most interesting part was the tour guide's observations and her rather snooty way of saying she was right even though she stated it was an "opinion". I guess "mesmerizing" has a new meaning: "challenges one to stay awake".
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Like going to an art museum without leaving home
vsks22 October 2014
If you're looking for an alternative to the deafening noise and frantic pace of action movies, you've found it. This 2012 drama was directed by Jem Cohen, the award-winning creator of numerous films about punk rock musicians, including Patti Smith. I haven't seen those documentaries, but I'm guessing the quiet and snail's pace of Museum Hours is a significant departure that takes the meaning of "art house film" literally. Not overloaded with plot, the film includes lots of footage of paintings and sculpture and people looking at paintings and sculpture, a 15?-minute art appreciation monologue on the work of Pieter Bruegel, the point of which was that, in the panoply of people he scatters across his canvases, he doesn't direct the eye to any single place. You can pick your own center. Each person portrayed is potentially equally important, regardless of the putative "subject" of the work.That seems to be the Cohen's point, too. That the two characters—a woman visiting Vienna to attend her comatose cousin—and a museum guard she meets by happenstance, are two random people and subjects as worthy of exploration as anyone else. That's my guess, anyway. Only three real speaking parts, all performed superbly: the guard, the out-of-towner, the museum lecturer. Not the comatose cousin. Much of the movie was filmed in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum. New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott gave it 5 stars and called it "quietly amazing, sneakily sublime." Rotten Tomatoes called it "a mesmerizing tale." Mesmerized, I fell asleep (briefly). Critics rating 94% -- Audience: 59%.
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