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Saturday, June 28, 2014

MUSEUM HOURS (2012)

An art-house film about an art house, the Kunsthisorisches Museum in Vienna, minimalist in execution, large in spirit & effect. Framed by the musings of a late-middle-aged museum guard, its wisp of a story has this pleasant man aiding a Canadian stranger, adrift in this formal city while waiting for some sort of outcome on a comatose relative. The two fall into the easy platonic short-term intimacy of strangers, touring the museum, the city and their lives, without any established pattern of behavior to hold on to. Filmmaker Jem Cohen is equally free to roam, letting the best incidents speak for themselves in the manner of a Frederick Wiseman documentary whether in or out of the museum. Avoiding character arcs & story beats, he discovers a compelling narrative built out of the smallest actions, stepping out of bounds briefly for an odd reverie where nude museum visitors view clothed portraits before reversing back to the usual nude portraits & clothed viewers. It’s the only conceit in the film that feels forced. A lovely, memorable work, though obviously something of a connoisseur’s piece.

DOUBLE-BILL: More musing o’er a night in Vienna in Richard Linklater’s BEFORE SUNRISE/’95 which led to two well-received, woefully self-indulgent sequels.

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