Sunday, March 14, 2010

#42: Fishing with John

(John Lurie, 1992)

This is one of the more bizarre entries in the Criterion Collection, and not because it isn't a movie at all, but a television series that lasted six episodes. Lurie is a musician and artist who decided to film his fishing trips with some of his favorite guest stars. The real appeal, though, is in the narration, which consists of lies and meaningless observations that become more and more surreal as the series progresses.

The interesting thing about the series is that it lulls you into a false sense of calm with fishing sequences and then shocks you back into the realization that you are not in fact watching an actual fishing show. Like when the Willem Dafoe episode ends with the narrator explaining that Lurie and Dafoe have died while ice fishing (the next episode begins with the camera finding Lurie, which prompts the narrator to exclaim with surprise: "I was wrong! John is alive!").

I highly doubt Fishing with John would be selected for the collection today, but in the early years of DVD adoption, this was the kind of thing that would seem lost to history had Criterion not selected it for release. For some, this will be the funniest thing they've ever seen, but for most, it won't surpass its status as a unique curiosity.

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