A Small World

Where can you find a finely aged punk rocker? Doing a gig as a museum guard (“Museum Hours”). He scrutinizes and analyzes museum goers, and re-examines the paintings in the museum to discover new details and perspectives. He is the kind of person who takes note of a lonely and moneyless Canadian woman. Offering help in navigating the city (Vienna) and language, he becomes her cultural guide and through this, retraces his affection for Vienna. We see the grand buildings and the drab ones, an open flea market frequented by people of lesser means, a neighbourhood bar, a barren field. There is a pervasive loneliness throughout the whole thing – but for the oldster punk, now a museum guard, the wisdom of Bruegel’s vision is so redeeming that it becomes a stand-in for companionship. The film had some slow moments, I admit, and it made me think of “So Lonely” (early Police was the best), but how else can you see the paintings in Kunsthistorisches museum without leaving your home?

I noticed that one of the producers of”Museum Hours” is Patti Smith. The director of the film did videos for R.E.M. and other bands, so the connection with Patti is there. The film has a Patti type of sensibility, a little self-involved, but visually arresting and fun nonetheless.

The hipster world is a small one and very interconnected. Sheila Heti keeps popping up everywhere, on Jonathan Goldstein’s Wiretap, and in a toy store with a small selection of books. I pick up the children’s book penned by Sheila and read through it. It’s pretty good (the illustrations are great).

I imagine that Sheila could be (or maybe is) friends with lena Dunham.


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