The haunting Museum Hours stars Bobby Sommer, a driver whom writer/director/filmmaker Jem Cohen found during one of his many trips to the Viennale, as Johann, a museum guard. He befriends a naive woman played by Mary Margaret O'Hara, and they roam around Vienna and the Kunsthistorisches, talking about friends and the past and the works they're espying.
Vastly more interesting are Johann's voice overs, in which the depths of his sensitivities and intelligence are revealed, and which force viewers to contemplate fundamental questions about art: what do we see when we look? How does the act of looking change depending on the circumstance (i.e., when we're standing in the street versus standing in a museum)? Where is the art in the everyday? Why does Bruegel allot so much space to horses' asses?
After the showing at IFC Center, Jem Cohen arrived on stage with a notebook. What we thought was merely an aide de memoire turned out to be quite possibly the world's last mailing list maintained by hand. Given the positive press, and near sold-out shows, Cohen will probably be able to afford a computer soon.