Storytelling Never Improves Across All "Three Eras"
How bad? Very.
There’s an ambitiousness to Three Eras that I’m unable to deny but all too reluctant to acknowledge. With the resources of a community theatre one-man stage play, the film uses Buster Keaton’s Three Ages - itself a satire/spoof riff on D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance - as direct inspiration. It’s clear that there’s a reverence for Buster, with one of the lead characters being named after him for example, but it’s also painfully obvious just how in over their heads - and up their own certain somethings - the filmmaking team of Jay and Mark Meyers are, much like the newlyweds from Buster’s One Week.
But Three Eras is no honeymoon or divorce proceeding, but rather a loveless marriage that lives on well past the point of no return.
The movie is told over three different periods of human existence, from caveman times to the old west to the present, with a Grim Reaper-dressed version of Father Time as the narrator. This visage of a boundless overlord comically has his red lipstick smeared into his fake beard, and for some reason is held on by the camera in a number of unnecessary shots, where he looks forward, confused as to what to do next. I know the feeling.
Three Eras stars the Meyers filmmaking duo as timeless salesmen throughout each vignette. Real estate is the product - caves and the like - but each variation of the schemers has no charm or skill. Or shame. Jay Meyers plays the main talker of each piece, endlessly talking and saying nothing of value all the same. It’s one failure after another in Three Eras, and I don’t just mean the message of the film, should it have one (it doesn’t, but acts as if it does). Instances of office chairs not even being covered up in old west sets could be looked over if everything else weren’t so intensely insufferable and full of hot air. Both Meyers either think too much of themselves or not enough and at the extreme ends of that spectrum, I feel.
The final segment, set now, is definitely some of the worst minutes of movie watching I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve seen Brian DePalma’s Redacted. Here, real-estate mogul man-babies try to become social media influencers by way of talking over one another and mocking the man filming them. That is it. For the whole segment. That. Is. It. No forward movement other than constant cross-talk with no action or animation or point other than being filler.
Maybe both Mark and Jay Meyers had fun with their friends and crewmembers and just wanted to make something. Maybe not maybe, but for sure. I have that to lean on, and nothing else. Three Eras isn’t so much a laid egg, but a buster not well taken. Get up and try again - the next fall might be worth it.
Three Eras will be making the festival run before a streaming release later in 2022.
Sincerely Yours in Moviegoing,
This one was a bit better: