ATN New York correspondent Lori Miller clearly knew
nothing about fishing before researching this review. Here is her report: I've
never really been a fan of televised fishing or even fishing on video. But when
I read that John Lurie, one of my favorite actors and the composer &
saxophonist behind the Lounge Lizards, had a "Fishing With John" video show at
The Knitting Factory the other week, I thought watchin' fishin' could be fun.
Especially John fishing with friends like Matt Dillon and Willem Dafoe. How
hard on the eyes could that be -- assuming they wouldn't include scenes of live
bait (or chum, like they used in Jaws) and eviscerated fish.
first video was a fishin' trip with Matt to Costa Rica. There was a theme song
and opening montage, which was the first clue I had that this wasn't John's
first celebrity fishing expedition. Later in the evening I found out this was
the third and final night of the series. I'd missed John fishing in Jamaica
with Tom Waits and in Montauk (LI) with Jim Jarmusch.
The video opened with
John and Matt in the plane, and a narrator told us where they were headed. The
narrator had the perfect Discovery-Channel type of voice. I thought I might
actually learn about nature whenever he spoke. Like when the plane landed and
John & Matt got their first look at Costa Rica. The camera focused on some
horses and the narrator announced, "These are horses." Here was a man who knew
a thing or two about a thing or two.
Right away John & Matt were taken to
meet with Don Marino, the fishing guru of Costa Rica. As the camera focused on
Matt listening to Sr. Marino speaking Spanish, there it was: the
blank-but-beautiful Matt Dillon stare. I honestly couldn't tell if he
understood Don Marino or not. Not that I don't respect Matt. His chewing scenes
in The Flamingo Kid show true comedic genius. To be fair, John had the
same look on his face too. Thank goodness for the narrator. Don Marino was
telling John and Matt to go see Tacho, and learn the fish dance.
was off to "the beautiful Rio Colorado." Once they'd stopped the boat to start
fishing, the narrator told us that no white man had ever been that far. Clearly
John is no amateur fisherman.
Nor an amateur filmmaker. I think he wrote
and directed all four segments, and recorded the soundtrack. The theme song was
kind of slow and silly, but I found myself humming it the next day. The
stuttering reed sound I've always enjoyed in the Lounge Lizard's music fit with
scenes of wildlife on the beautiful Rio Colorado, like a twangy guitar goes
with scenes of the open range.
In the second video John & Willem went
ice-fishing in Maine. Once again, the narrator let the audience know just how
dangerous and rough a fishing expedition can be. When Willem went into the
woods to get supplies to build a hut, and came out with actual planks of wood
instead of logs, the narrator said, "These are real men .... doing real
This trip was much more dramatic than the trip to Costa Rica. The
two fishermen were on the ice the entire time. The narrator told us that the
average temperature there is minus 18 degrees! And since John is such an honest
filmmaker, we were allowed to witness the conflict at night, when the two men
thought about sharing a sleeping bag to stay warm. When Willem told John that
he gets "kinda sweet at bedtime," that ended the debate.
There weren't many
fish in Maine. John & Willem had several traps set up on the ice, but never any
luck. John didn't make it easy on his audience. We watched as their spirits
deteriorated; as they survived eating only cheese and crackers and
hallucinating about fish. In the end we're left wondering why the cameramen
hadn't shared their food and shelter.
"Fishing With John" was a lot of fun
for filmed fishing. John showed, with unswerving irony, what happens when a
Lounge Lizard with city survival skills tries to live off the wilds of the
land. If ESPN weren't interested in the fishin' musician, maybe The Independent
Film Channel or Bravo or MTV could run the videos. They're definitely worthy of