by Jim Ridley
Dedicated in part to the memory of Vic Chesnutt, Museum Hours, the latest film by video artist and filmmaker Jem Cohen, could be glibly described as something of a variation on Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise, only featuring a chance encounter between characters closer in age to twilight: a museum guard (Bobby Sommer) at Vienna's Kunsthistorisches art museum and a Canadian visitor (singer-songwriter Mary Margaret O'Hara) attending to a relative's slow death.
It takes some time to adjust to Cohen's slow, contemplative pace, measured in expertly framed static shots that demand and reward attention. Once you make the necessary deceleration, though, the movie begins to bloom in your mind, questioning matters as wide-ranging as the positioning of figures within Brueghel's paintings, the capitalist underpinnings of museum exhibition, and whether bling-filled portraiture serves as the rap videos of a time before either rap or video. Executive produced by Patti Smith, it opens today for a brief run at The Belcourt.