Look closely at Museum Hours. As this entrancing movie unfolds, your eyes will wander to the corner of the frame and see a plethora of details: smoke emanating from a distant warehouse, steam wafting from a coffee cup or perhaps a lonely piece of discarded trash pushed along by the wind.
Initially, because of their placement in the frame, these details might seem unimportant to director Jem Cohen. Nothing could be further from the truth; like the multifaceted Brueghel paintings the film so often references, each composition in Museum Hours contains markers of life frozen by art, some grotesque and some sublimely beautiful.
On paper it's the story of Johann (Bobby Sommer), a museum guard who's spent six years watching over the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna. His life is not so much interrupted as it is affirmed when he meets Anne (Mary Margaret O'Hara), a stranded Canuck from Montreal visiting an estranged comatose relative.
Together, the two glide through the museum passageways discussing their own past histories. Eventually, they leave the haloed perfection of the exhibition halls for the open streets beyond.
Museum Hours—which opens Friday, Sept. 20, at the Ken Cinema—is a romance not between people, but ideas. The delightful way Johann and Anne and share stories calls to mind the best sort of artistic expression.
They speak in possibilities, not finite arguments. It's the kind of perspective Brueghel specialist Gerda Pachner (Ela Piplits) cherishes during her lecture on the alternate themes of one harrowing painting. The film's most horrific moment involves an interruption perpetrated by a snobby couple capable of only faux-academic close-mindedness.
Museum Hours argues that to truly live is to see past the obviousness of bias and rhetoric. Viewing the world with fresh eyes is a radical and priceless act of bravery.
A Single Shot: An experienced hunter (Sam Rockwell) accidentally kills a woman while poaching deer in the forest, setting off a string of events that will get him embroiled in a seedy criminal plot.
Los Amorosos: Daniel Martinez and Marimar Vega star as estranged lovers who reunite during a lyrical visit through the Chiapas region of Mexico. Screens through Sept. 26 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Battle of the Year: Get your groove on with a bunch of fit young people competing for bragging rights in the ultimate dance competition.
Museum Hours: The Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna becomes the backdrop of a burgeoning friendship between a museum guard and Canadian woman visiting an estranged relative. Screens through Sept. 26 at La Jolla Village Cinemas. See our review on Page 22.
Prisoners: A desperate father (Hugh Jackman) takes the law into his own hands after his daughter disappears, despite the ongoing investigation by a dedicated police officer (Jake Gyllenhaal).
Salinger: An expansive and controversial look into the life of the reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye.
Sign Painters: Passionate documentary about the resurgence of traditional sign painters trying to save a dying art form in the face of computer-designed and inkjet lettering. Screens through Sept. 24 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Thanks for Sharing: Romantic comedy about three friends who meet in a 12-step program for sex addicts. Awkwardness ensues. Stars Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins and Gwyneth Paltrow.
You Will Be My Son: A father and son clash over the future of their prestigious vineyard in France.
One time only
Pearl Peep's Movie Choice: It's a leap-of-faith kind of night. Surprise! Something screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Obselidia: If the world's going to end tomorrow, how are you going to live today? Part road movie, part love story, part bittersweet meditation on the ephemeral nature of everything. A librarian believes love is obsolete, until a road trip to Death Valley with a cinema projectionist teaches him otherwise. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Scripps Ranch Public Library.
La Camioneta: Doc follows the path of decommissioned school buses from the U.S. to Guatemala, where they're used for public transit. Also focuses on a plague of murders perpetrated by gang members when Camioneta drivers refuse to pay protection money. Presented by San Diego Latino Film Festival's Que Viva! Cine Latino, it screens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Otay Ranch Town Center
Damaged Goods: After finding an abandoned pit bull in a field, a young British boy encounters a savage new world of underground dog fighting. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at Queen Bee's Art and Cultural Center in North Park.
Roman Holiday: Audrey Hepburn stars as a disgruntled princess eager to find love outside the limits of royalty. Gregory Peck is her American newsman prince. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, through Saturday, Sept. 21, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Pete's Dragon: A young orphan and his magical dragon make waves in a seaside town while trying to escape the worst parents ever. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Lafayette Hotel in North Park.
Barrio Film Festival: The Roots Factory and the Museum of Photographic Arts present the second annual fest, showcasing independent films. It happens Friday, Sept. 20, through Sunday, Sept. 22, at MoPA in Balboa Park.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Play dress-up and sing like crazy. You know you want it. Screens at midnight Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Ken Cinema.
El Manzano Azul: A grown man reminisces about a pivotal summer he spent on his grandfather's country property in Venezuela. Presented by San Diego Latino Film Festival's Cine en el Parque, it screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, at Grape Day Park, California Center for the Arts, Escondido.
Wreck-it-Ralph: The titular video-game villain breaks out of his archetypical shell and finds being good quite infectious. Screens at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at 4S Ranch Sports Park.
North by Northwest: Alfred Hitchcock takes crop-dusting to a new level, at Cary Grant's expense. Screens at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at Arclight La Jolla.
Humble Pie: An overweight grocery clerk sets out to become an actor and prove all of his detractors wrong in the process. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, at Hervey Branch Library in Point Loma.
The Goonies: Me Chunk, you Sloth! Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Ginger and Rosa: Two teenagers living in 1960s London attempt to transcend the looming menace of the Cuban Missile Crisis and retain some of their youth. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the Mission Valley Public Library.
An Oversimplification of her Beauty: An artist begins to reflect on his life after being stood up by a mystery woman, initiating a series of memories and observations that send the film into a stream-of-consciousness narrative. Screens through Sept. 19 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Family: Robert De Niro's career continues to plummet in this dark comedy about a New York City family of mobsters living in France under false identities.
Insidious Chapter 2: More horrific and ghostly images from director James Wan, the devious auteur behind Saw, The Conjuring and, of course, Insidious.
Populaire: This fluffy and sweet ode to 1950s comedies follows the roller-coaster relationship between a secretary and her handsome boss, both of whom become obsessed with a speed-typing competition. Through Sept. 19 at the Ken Cinema.
Short Term 12: SDSU alum Dustin Cretton directs this award-winning film about the complex relationships populating a foster-care facility. Starring Brie Larson (The Spectacular Now) and John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom).
Afternoon Delight: Written and directed by Jill Holloway, this indie comedy follows a Los Angeles woman's (Kathryn Hahn) pursuit to transcend the drudgeries of everyday life and marriage by giving shelter to a young stripper (Juno Temple). Ends Sept. 19 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
The Patience Stone: A magical-realist parable about an Afghan woman living in a war-torn state who gains her voice in the face of adversity and patriarchy. Directed and co-written by Atiq Rahimi, from his best-selling novel. Ends Sept. 19 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Riddick: Vin Diesel returns as the titular criminal badass who must battle an alien race of predators and brutal mercenaries.
Ain't Them Bodies Saints: Set in the 1950s, David Lowery's poetic crime film tells the story of an escaped prisoner (Casey Affleck) who returns home to a small Texas town to retrieve his wife (Rooney Mara) and young daughter. Ends Sept. 19 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Closed Circuit: Two British lawyers (Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall) get caught up in a deadly terrorist plot that exposes the dangerous and pervasive power of the secret intelligence community.
Getaway: When his wife is kidnapped, Ethan Hawke must get behind the wheel and follow the orders of a mysterious man who may be responsible for her disappearance. Selena Gomez co-stars.
The Grandmaster: The story of kung-fu master Ip Man in his early days, created through the hyper-realized style of filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai.
Instructions Not Included: A smarmy playboy (Eugenio Derbez) gets a rude awakening when an ex-flame drops off a baby at his doorstep, forcing him to become an unlikely father figure.
One Direction: This is Us: Go behind the scenes with the famous boy band from England as they embark on a worldwide tour, to the delight of thousands of screaming fans.
Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation: The venerable edgy 'toon-fest has returned to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's La Jolla location with a 20th-anniversary show that runs through Nov. 23.
Austenland: A single, 30-something woman (Keri Russell) obsessed with Jane Austen sinks her life savings into a lavish English vacation to an Austen-themed manor hoping to find her Mr. Darcy.
The Hunt: Mads Mikkelsen (NBC's Hannibal) stars as a humble school teacher accused of an unthinkable crime in a small-town Danish community. Ends Sept. 19 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: Clary Fray (Lily Collins) finds out truths about her past and bloodline when her mom is attacked and taken from their home in New York City by a demon.
The World's End: The creative team behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz return with this sci-fi comedy about a group of estranged childhood friends who reunite for an epic pub-crawl, only to find a menacing alien presence occupying their home town.
In a World : Lake Bell wrote, directed and stars in this film about an underachieving vocal coach who makes a play at becoming a voiceover star, following in her famous father's footsteps.
Jobs: The life and times of Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher), from college dropout to one of the most respected and revered entrepreneurs of his time.
Kick-Ass 2: Costumed heroes Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnston) and Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) are back fighting crime in this sure-to-be bloody sequel to the popular 2010 film.
Lee Daniels' The Butler: Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) serves as a butler in the White House for seven consecutive presidents, witnessing shifts in civil rights and foreign policy from a fascinating vantage point.
The Spectacular Now: An alcoholic high-school senior (Miles Teller) romances an inexperienced fellow student (Shailene Woodley) and inadvertently falls in love.
Elysium: After being diagnosed with a terminal disease, a factory worker (Matt Damon) attempts to infiltrate a manmade space habitat where the world's wealthy now live in permanent luxury. Directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9).
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters: The titular son of Poseidon must embark on a quest to the Sea of Monsters in order to stop a rising tide of ancient evil.
Planes: The kids will probably do flips for this animated Disney film about a crop-dusting plane who dreams of competing in a famous aerial race.
We're the Millers: In order to sneak a huge Mexican weed shipment into the U.S., a veteran pot dealer (Jason Sudeikis) creates a fake family in hopes of bypassing authorities. Co-starring Jennifer Aniston.
2 Guns: Plenty of bullets will be spent in this action comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington as dueling law-enforcement officers trying to clear their names.
Blue Jasmine: Woody Allen's latest comedy showcases the amazing Cate Blanchett as an entitled 1-percenter who experiences a harrowing fall from grace.
Blackfish: SeaWorld and its potentially corrupt business practices take a shellacking in this documentary about the killer whale responsible for three deaths during its time in captivity.
Smurfs 2: Another Smurfs movie, because why not?
Storm Surfers 3D: Surfing legends Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones travel the globe seeking the ultimate wave, in 3-D.
The Wolverine: Hugh Jackman reprises his iconic role as the immortal clawed X-Man battling a brutal band of Yakuza in modern Japan.
The Conjuring: Ghosts and demons haunt a large suburban family who just moved into a rickety Rhode Island home with a dark past. It's directed by horror maestro James Wan (Insidious, Saw).
The Way, Way Back: A 14-year-old boy finds self-worth during a summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette) and her combative new boyfriend (Steve Carell).
20 Feet From Stardom: Backup singers for today's superstars finally take center stage in this music documentary featuring a range of inspirational stories about artistic endurance and passion.
Despicable Me 2: Gru (Steve Carell) and his army of minions attempt to transcend their roles as villains and save the world in this sequel to the popular 2010 animated film.
Monsters University: Professional frighteners and quibbling buddies Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) are back for Pixar's first-ever prequel set during their wild college days.
This is the End: It's the end of the world as we know it, and the Judd Apatow reunion tour feels just fine. Directed by Seth Rogen, this comedy apocalypse is sure to include multiple plumes of ganja smoke.
Rocky Mountain Express: The IMAX theater at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center was recently overhauled. This latest entry takes viewers through the Canadian Rockies without leaving San Diego.
Cosmic Collisions: So, that asteroid that might smash into Earth in 20 years is much bigger than previously thought? Awesome. This new IMAX movie at the Reuben H. Fleet looks at what happens when things bash into each other in outer space. On the bright side, if we go the way of the dinosaurs, at least future species will have a new source of fossil fuels.
Flight of the Butterflies: It turns out Monarch butterflies are much like SDSU students—every year, thousands of them head to Mexico. This IMAX film captures their beautiful trip. The butterflies, that is.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.