Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Jem Cohen's 'Museum Hours'

The old Masters: how well they understood.
~ from W. H. Auden's "Musee des Beaux Arts"

New York-based director Jem Cohen has a new film, Museum Hours, which I've put on my to-see list. The movie is the story of a relationship between Johann, a guard at Kunsthistorisches Art Museum, and Anne, a foreign visitor to Austria for whom the museum becomes a refuge and, ultimately, a meeting place for "an unexpected series of explorations" about life, the city of Vienna, and art's reflection of and influence on daily experience. 

Garnering much praise from critics, the film, according to the director, got its start in the Bruegel room of the museum, where Cohen says he "was particularly struck by the fact that the central focus, even the primary subject [of the 16th Century paintings], was hard to pin down." Feeling the same "connected sensibility" he'd experienced while shooting documentary street footage, Cohen began thinking about how he could "[use]  the museum as a kind of fulcrum" to examine the interweavings, linkings, and eventual separations that occur in relationships between the predictable and the unknown, between documentary and invention, between the seen and the imagined. (Read the Director's Statement and Production Notes here.)

Here's the trailer for Museum Hours, which received its first public showing earlier this month and is scheduled for screenings nationwide:

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