Tonight’s presentation of Ohio surrealist Richard Myers at Theater Vanguard is a landmark event in experimental cinema. That Myers, who will appear in person with his films, is a major artist was made unmistakably clear in his previously shown AKRAN and DEATHSTYLES and is further confirmed by his latest work, the 54-minute 37-73, a piercingly beautiful memory film of overwhelming emotional impact whose title refers to Myers’ life span at the time of its production.
It is Myers’ great and particular gift to be able to give exquisitely precise objective form to the stream of his consciousness so that it evokes a profound sense of recognition. Through Myers’ so eloquently expressed dream world we’re able to perceive the entire panorama of the specifically American imagination. It’s as if he’s tapped our collective subconscious.
In a step-printed—and therefore agonizingly, shocking sequence, we see a young boy (Kelly Myers, the filmmaker’s son) witnessing a man, presumably his father, being run over by a car. Once past this, Myers establishes his key recurrent motif, that of the boy seated in a shiny old pre-war sedan being driven by a pale, stringy-haired chauffeur (Jake Leed.)
The chauffeur tells the boy of the adventures of the dreamer, who becomes a kind of alter ego for both the boy and the chauffeur. (The chauffeur and the Dreamer in fact, are played by the same actor.) Both at the beginning and the end of the film the boy’s mother and grandmother—Myers’ actual mother (Marjory Myers) and grandmother (Nora Croft)—are seen joyfully washing the car.
In the course of his journey the boy becomes aware of the mysteries of magic and religion and the deep fears of sex and death and inevitable decay. Through the sound of a tinkling piano and old songs and through bits and pieces of familiar old movies and of glimpses of an old Midwestern city, the film is a veritable collage of vintage Americana. But Myers goes way beyond mere nostalgia to evoke a full range of emotional associations by his stunningly juxtaposed images. Those images, many of them nakedly Freudian, are both dazzling and disturbing in themselves. They range from the benign—the grandmother reading to the little boy in a tulle-draped four poster—to the fearful—a mime troupe, armed with grappling hooks, struggling to bring that sedan, now streaking across the sky, down to earth.
Myers is as superb a technician as he is an artist. His camera work and matte work are impeccable. Indeed, 37-73’s finest moment occurs when every room in an old building, in its cleaving by wreckers, for a split second becomes alive with human activity. Throughout this remarkable film Myers leaves none of the camera’s formidable resources untouched in communicating his enormously engaging yet deeply poignant vision of life.”
Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
Richard Myers’ 37-73 was by far the most noteworthy film in the exposition (9th Annual Independent Filmmakers Exposition). In fact, Richard Myers is, in my opinion, one of the few innovative, conceptually oriented filmmakers in the country. By conceptual I am not referring to film ideas characterized by such labels as structuralism, but rather, Myers’ work is an expression of a commitment to a very personal view of life as made manifest in ‘worlds of possibility’ through film language. As powerful and complex as is AKRAN (an earlier Myers film that utilizes a similar form and structured mode as 37-73), 37-73 is more taut, richer in associative meaning. Through the collision of sound and image that can best be understood as ‘stream of consciousness,’ Myers has made is a film about dreams, about memory, and its associations with nightmare and magic. Myers’ characters exist within a deluge of impressions that evoke a world of terror. 37-73 utilizes a complex interrelationship of image, sound, and subtitles, each speaking to a different reality ... a ‘tour de force’ conceptually and technically. 37-73 is great filmmaking.”
Owen Shapiro, Filmmaker and Professor of Film Syracuse University
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