• Unrated, 1 hr. 46 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Jem Cohen
    In Theaters:
    Jun 28, 2013 Limited
    On DVD:
    Dec 17, 2013
  • Cinema Guild


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Museum Hours Reviews

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Super Reviewer

December 16, 2013
A museum guard at the Kunsthistorisches befriends a middle aged Canadian woman who has come to Vienna to visit a dying relative. This slow, abstract and contemplative movie won't be to everyone's taste; the best thing I can say about it is that it makes me want to go on vacation, visit an art museum and make a friend in a foreign country.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

August 12, 2013
There is a magnificent stillness in this love letter to the Kunsthistoriches Museum, and it turns around a very realistic and beautifully mundane circumstance: a surprise friendship in middle age that helps make an uncomfortable situation bearable, maybe even fun. Unorthodox film that's very slow and considered but not laborious. A fine work of art.

Super Reviewer

August 7, 2013
It is one thing for a movie to rhapsodize about the importance of small details not only in life but also in art, especially that of Pieter Bruegel. And then you have a movie like "Museum Hours" which takes it a step further in not being able to see the forest for the trees and concentrates on the activities of a solitary squirrel to the detriment of everything else. Which might not be a huge problem if there was anything going on in the foreground.

What little we have here concerns Johann(Bobby Sommer), once a road manager for bands, who now works as a security guard in the fine arts museum in Vienna. In his spare time, he listens to AC/DC and plays online poker. That leaves plenty of time to hang out with Anne(Mary Margaret O'Hara) who is in town from Montreal to care for an ailing relative in a coma. Since she has little money, their options are limited. But getting her a museum pass proves to be little trouble.

But the movie gets bored with that, going off on random tangents and even throwing in a few naked bodies at one point to see if anybody is even paying attention anymore, much less still have a pulse.
July 19, 2013
"Museum Hours" is a difficult movie to put into words. Where "Blue Is the Warmest Color" and "The Past" are about faces, Jem Cohen's film is about voices, i.e. thoughts. ("Only God Forgives" is the only movie I can think of that's about hands.) It's also very expressionless, which means it'll be divisive and/or misconstrued. But it's such a rich experience, an essential work for anyone who cares about cinema, even if you don't end up liking it much at all. Yes, even if you end up feeling it's redundant and indulgent. Or, yes, unnecessary.

Writer-director Cohen isn't trying to come off as glib or pretentious, or to piss you off. He's not even trying to compare his film to the artistic masterworks on apparent and often elongated display. Like I'd imagine Alexander Sukorov's yet unseen by me "Russian Ark" to be, or if Sofia Coppola decided to make a drama in the manner of those set-abroad by Woody Allen, "Museum Hours" aims to fascinate by using philosophy, discussion of possible previous fashions of livelihood, and, above all, ideas, incorporating quiet importance in every constrained frame.

A key theme: art that's "timeless", while also carrying time with it. Another, even more mind-blowing: everyday existence as a landscape -- everything occurring concurrently; life happening alongside death; various points of view around an event as uneventful as an old woman traveling a short path before disappearing behind a large hedge. Sounds ridiculous, but you're swept up in the charm. I love movies you have to magnify and distinguish to remotely begin to understand, and like fellow narrative provocateur "Stories We Tell", "Museum Hours" seems to be about exactly that, albeit in a mystical, beautifully frustrating way.
August 16, 2014
Blurs the boundary between physical art and cinema in a way that very few films accomplish successfully. A mesmerizing and subtle love story.
August 11, 2014
The dullest movie ever. Is this art, dark, unlit, never ending scenes, disjointed scenes which have no plot, old naked people sitting in th museum for no reason? Art, hell no. Vienna is shown as a dismal city, foggy dull and undesirable. This is a live colorful world capitol city. Please don't wast you time and money to see this abysmal, unprofessional film
December 21, 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.
June 3, 2014
This film moves slowly but is beautiful as it juxtaposes art from Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Art Museum with a story of connection, friendship and life.
May 4, 2014
Best movie I've seen since the one about the guy who invented the craft of slicing bread. Which, we of course are so very grateful for. Those slices keep the Nation's "cold" cuts warm between 2 blankets of grainy goodness.
P.S. - See the movie.
P.S.S - Eat lots of fiber.
night- S
April 16, 2014
Jem makes a GEM. Jem Cohen made this masterpiece of an art film. It is wonderful, beautiful, artistic, sublime. CDW
December 22, 2013
I can't think of a single person I would recommend this movie to...but I know I needed it.
December 21, 2013

Héctor M. Sánchez

Hacía mucho que no veíamos una película tan bien hecha y que, además, nos gustara tanto. Nos referimos a Museum hours, de Jem Cohen, un filme que se concentra en darle un nuevo significado al acto de la percepción (visual, auditiva, verbal, etc.). Fue filmada en 2012 y cuenta con las actuaciones de Mary Margaret O'Hara (Anne), Bobby Sommer (Johann) y Ela Piplits (Gerda Pachner).

En primera instancia, observamos a la percepción visual en su relación con el lenguaje: ya sea que se trate de los diálogos «de café» entre Johann y Anne, ya de las explicaciones eruditas de la guía del museo, Gerda Pachner, la palabra siempre va acompañada por una serie de imágenes que a veces la complementan y a veces se le contraponen: una vista panorámica a la ciudad de Viena, un collage de sus calles y sus estaciones de tranvía o, bien, un acercamiento a un cuadro de Rembrandt. De esta forma, la cinta hace del museo una metáfora: todos los objetos, aun los más ordinarios, existen para ser vistos, descritos y, mejor aún, interpretados, tal como las obras de arte en un museo; desde esta perspectiva, la larga secuencia en la que Gerda Pachner nos da su interpretación de los cuadros de Brueghel El Viejo resulta no sólo una de las más intensas, sino también de las más significativas de Museum hours. Pero lo mismo podemos decir de aquélla en la que Anne compara a los pichones que reposan sobre un canal seco con granos de pimienta lanzados al azar; he aquí la columna vertebral de película: ya se trate de un brueghel, ya de un «simple» grupo de pichones, todo es perfecto para ser percibido.

De aquí podemos desprender una nueva analogía: tal como, en La conversión de San Pablo o en El camino al Calvario, de Brueghel, lo importante no son Cristo o San Pablo, sino la pléyade de gente «ordinaria» que transita alrededor de las figuras «principales» de dichos cuadros (así lo argumenta Gerda Pachner), lo más relevante en esta película no es la contemplación, por sí misma, de las grandes obras de arte, sino de la vida en su totalidad: desde los vendedores del flea market vienés hasta Judith y Holofernes, pasando por los empleados del Museo de Arte de Viena a la hora del almuerzo. Por ello, el par de secuencias en las que la imagen de un hombre «común» es puesta al lado de un retrato del museo que se le asemeja, así como el monólogo sobre las obras de arte como objeto de uso ordinario para los hombres (la nobleza) de épocas anteriores, parecen encaminarse hacia un punto común: sugerir la ruptura de la barrera entre las obras de arte y la vida cotidiana, entre el «velo místico» presupuesto en aquéllas y la mundanidad «simple» de ésta. Se trata, pues, de ampliar el concepto de lo artístico: todo puede ser una obra de arte.

Ahora bien: Museum hours no sólo nos muestra a la percepción visual en su relación con el lenguaje, sino por sí misma; de allí que el filme nos presente una multitud de «cuadros en movimiento», o, mejor aún, que éste pueda ser entendido como una «gran pintura» con distintas escenas que ocurren simultáneamente (aunque la cámara sólo pueda ofrecérnoslas una después de la otra), tal como en una obra de Brueghel. Entre éstas, no podemos dejar de mencionar la de los tres visitantes del museo que aparecen desnudos -«cuadro» de una belleza tan sublime que, por ella, bien podemos situarlo entre los mejores cuadros de desnudos a lo largo de la historia. Y he aquí un último paralelismo -entre la pintura, la fotografía y el cine: el cine como una pintura en movimiento, característica que, como se ha podido ver, está presente a lo largo de toda la película, pero que se vuelve aún más explícita en las tomas a la ciudad de Viena con las que ésta concluye: cine, fotografía y pintura conjuntadas para estimular el acto de al percepción visual.

Por todo lo que hemos apuntado, así como por su espléndido manejo de la cámara (lento y contemplativo) y la música (casi nulo, pero exacto), y sus muy buenas actuaciones, le damos a este filme un diez de diez. Lo recomendamos ampliamente para aquéllos que, en sus ratos libres, quieran darse una exquisita tajada de arte.

Coatepec, Ver., a 21 de diciembre de 2013.
Jimmy C.
December 21, 2013
This has to be one of the dullest movies I have ever seen. Who the heck are the critics who like this? Both the main characters are devoid of personality, interesting lives, or interesting things to say, and, well, the woman is just plain irritating. That there are a few paintings in the background does not elevate the movie. As another reviewer said, going to your own local museum would be worlds more fascinating than this piece of depressing drivel.
Matty Stanfield
December 18, 2013
An almost perfect art film in my book. Simply stunning and beautiful in psychological, emotional and artistic depth. Every shot could stand on its own as a single work of art. Highly recommended.
November 4, 2013
Boring but beautiful. A lot patience is needed to appreciate this unconventional film.
Gavel Down.
December 4, 2013
Does a disservice to Vienna, does a disservice to humanity.
Sensaye S.
November 19, 2013
Watching this movie was like being on a boring field trip. I can appreciate the beauty of great art, but for the director to try to carry the movie through the artwork is like someone putting a slideshow of animals on youtube and saying they made a nature film. In an artsy film like this, you expect the characters to have depth or for their to be profound moments of human-ness, but there are none. You'll be waiting the whole film for one of them to say or do something interesting, and they don't. Their conversations are empty. They are two boring people having boring conversations about nothing, and not in a charming, interesting way. The female character is SO dramatic. The male character is a total stiff. This movie takes itself very seriously. There is not one funny or light moment in the whole film. Oh, and the filler is ridiculous. The scenes where she is singing by herself and trying to get the notes right are neverending and pointless. The unbearably boring scene with the tour guide explaining Bruegel's art...zzz..zzzz. It felt like this movie was 4 hours long, I couldn't believe only an hour and 45 minutes passed when I looked at the clock. If you watched this film on mute, you would miss nothing. Actually, if you watched this movie with a blindfold on and earplugs in, you would miss nothing.
November 15, 2013
This film begs you to compare it to Russian Ark (Sukarov) and The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (Ruiz), which is high praise on its own. However, it is best imagined as the film that Guy Debord would have made for the Society of Spectacle if Debord had known how to make movies.

Museum Hours is similar to checking your phone while having dinner with a friend: It demands no attention but gives you a reason to look, while you are trying to look away. Its a pretentious movie about art that is not a pretentious movie about art but instead a meditation on viewing: on the nature of looking upon the world and the unrelated unity that makes everything worth looking at.

With its inter-cutting, it contrasts modern schizophrenic viewing realities with the focused viewing of paintings that is kept caged within museum walls - the museum actually a hermitage, or rather an homage to what are in reality outdated modes of seeing. The film claims that we go to museums to undress ourselves, to view within the illusion of an earlier simpler natural mode of ocular negotiation. In doing so it challenges the viewer to critically examine the film image with the same intensity that an art historian might view a canvas. The viewing of a discarded pair of jeans is as much a documentary as the crowds of Bruegel.

Museum Hours allows no Plein Air, - no outside the studio, no outside the museum.
October 20, 2013
This film is definitely not for everyone but I like how the film is a mirror image of what a museum feels like. Your not gonna get all the story of these lifeless pieces of art, you just gonna get sides and its up for a lot of interpretation. If this wasn't a film about museums that format probably would have been extremely annoying. It's a slice of life film that doesn't really go very deep into its characters. They're just there, existing in this point in time. You can hint at what they're pasts are but you don't know it for sure. There's no profound change that happens, it just is.
September 30, 2013
I love film. This is surely one of the worst films I've ever seen--so bad, in fact, that I actually recommend you go to see it, to revel in its badness. "Self-indulgent" only begins to describe it. A scene of hangers rocking back and forth aimlessly in a closet. The dirtiest, most pathetic flea market, with a voice-over from the Egyptian book of the dead. Pigeons (oh so many pigeons) succumbing to illness. Gray, meaningless streetscapes. Do not believe any review that suggests that this movie has a plot in any sense. Yes, it could be summarized as: a thoroughly uninteresting and mild-mannered impoverished bartender from Montreal goes to Vienna to await the death of her comatose cousin who she really didn't know well, and is befriended by a museum guard who tolerates her senseless prattle, perhaps because he himself is nearly deaf from his years managing bands back when he was interesting . But advancing that "plotline" takes up perhaps 10% of this movie. The other 90% is a series of meaningless vignettes, some art-school bad, some merely random (which is to say pointless-no, really, you will not understand why you are watching a video of street traffic), only unified by their common drabness. A great movie to watch if you're contemplating suicide, but in any case, will bring you 1:47 closer to your own death , a fact you can only be thankful for after having watched this film. Very suitable for those who enjoy illness. The only redeeming quality was the time spent in the museum looking at art, but really, you're better off actually going to a museum and looking at art than watching this tripe. I highly recommend it.
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