There’s probably no filmmaker more successful in transmitting his imagination to the screen than Ohio experimentalist Richard Myers. He will personally present his dazzling FLOORSHOW (1978) Sunday at 2 p.m. at UCLA’s Melnitz Auditorium as part of the Encounter Cinema series ... The maker of DEATHSTYLES, AKRAN and 37-73 becomes more ambitious with each film. In FLOORSHOW he presents a rich stream-of-consciousness flow of images that encompasses past, present, and fantasy. In addition, it is a contemplation of the film-making process and film aesthetics as well as life and art. Myers makes a bolder-than-ever attempt to break down the barriers between the conscious and subconscious, the making of a film and the film itself and, in turn, the filmmaker and his audience. What Myers projects is an acutely personal vision of life so beautifully shaped and paced that we’re able to connect with it even if we cannot expect to decipher its private meanings. To watch FLOORSHOW is to be caught up in a dream dealing first of all with a filmmaker obsessed with film and with his struggle to make his own film. In this, Myers’ friend Jake Leed serves as his alter ego. Much of the appeal of Myers’ films is their evocation of small-town (or city) middle America. There’s always a sense of domesticity and family in Myers’ work, but he’s no mere nostalgist. There are recurring images of the evacuation of Da Nang, and also a joyous homage to Hollywood and the great international filmmakers. Much seems nightmarish and Freudian in Myers’ intricate collages; repeated images of hurdle jumpers, of Leed walking a tightrope and of Leed fearing drowning—this last is complemented by similar images from Sunset Boulevard and Blood of a Poet. Myers tells us that he needs to make films to justify himself, but he does more than that. He makes highly surreal works of art that invite participation. FLOORSHOW reveals a filmmaker who seemingly can express any state of mind with impact and eloquence.”
Kevin Thomas Los Angeles Times
Ann Arbor holds the oldest and most prestigious experimental film festival in the country. You would suppose, therefore, that its 108 publicly exhibited films this year would be a cross-section of what’s happening in the avant-garde movement. That’s not quite the case. There are now several generations of independent filmmakers working in the post-World War II resurgence, yet many of the legendary giants among them have, for whatever reasons, never exhibited at Ann Arbor.
A notable exception is Richard Myers, who has built in the last ten or 15 years a film body of astonishing size and uncompromising artistic integrity. He has also stayed where his roots are, and his films— particularly his major works of the last ten years (AKRAN, DEATHSTYLES, and 37-73)—have in common a deep sense of place, history, and family. In a broad sense they are autobiographical, because their images seem like efforts to represent Myers’ own memories and emotions, showing the forces that have stimulated his personal and creative life. The same gradually aging faces reappear, for they are the faces of his family and friends. The quiet, deep-shadowed Victorian interiors of his houses seem out of another century, but beyond the home the world is jangling, roaring with automobiles, cluttered, and menacing.
Myers’s new film, FLOORSHOW (86 minutes), begins with a small boy playing with toy acrobats in a room highlighted by light from a window. The film cuts from this dreamlike scene to a child’s drawing of a house and then sharply to the bleak reality of an exterior view of a frame house and the adult Myers inside the front window puzzling over his editing machine. “How would Dziga Vertov have done this sequence?” he muses by way of printed words at the bottom of the screen. Thus, we are launched into a movie about making a movie about the making of a movie. What follows is multitudinous and seemingly jumbled, but the essence has already been established: the lifelong obsession with film, the deliberation of the process and a hint of the anguish.
Myers’ camera is distinguished from the tinsel-covered camera of his protagonist-director, who wears white knee pants in the manner of the old-time Hollywood martinet. The innermost movie bears a resemblance to the old Hollywood excerpts which appear with lightning suddenness throughout. The acting is often artificial and melodramatic, as in the oft-repeated flight of the two leading characters across the sharp light-and-dark pattern of a lathed partition, or in a string of unrelated remarks by each actor into a telephone—a collection of ‘usable clips.’
On the other hand, the ‘middle’ film, in which Myers is playing the role of director, is overwhelmed by reality if not by realism; dreams, memories, philosophic speculations, self-doubts, criticism from well-wishers, accidents, the details of filming, possible domestic tension, a guilt-ridden preoccupation with the Da Nang evacuation, and a litany of the filmmakers who have influenced Myers. The outmost film, which is to say FLOORSHOW itself, was by far the outstanding achievement of the festival.”
Edgar Daniels, American Film