Fishing with John (1991)

Men…fishing…. So far ahead of its time it’s timeless: cult jazzman John Lurie, of Lounge Lizards fame, the resonant voice of Mike Hammer on John Zorn’s Spillane album, goes fishing with five of his cult-celebrity friends in exotic locations. Each episode was largely unscripted so the story, as such, was assembled in post-production editing, guided by voice over that often borders on the ludicrous. It’s “reel life”…or maybe not. The argument with Tom Waits apparently really happened. The gimmick with Willem Defoe must have been improvised. Lurie seems to have nothing to say to Matt Dillon, but they do blather about the TV show Gunsmoke. Two-parts with Dennis Hopper in Thailand are magical because they are genuinely absurd (beware the Squid Monks). The on-the-fly dialogue is often hysterical but flashes past, embedded in banter (Defoe: “I get a little sweet around bedtime”; Hopper: “That could only be in Asia, or wherever we are”), which means the episodes demand far more attention than the subject would initially seem to merit. The result is surreal and wonderful with surprising depth that, like all good TV, requires repeated viewings. Don’t miss the outstanding original soundtrack by Lurie, who dies of starvation while ice fishing with Defoe in episode four of six.

Episode one, shark fishing in Montauk with Jim Jarmusch…

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