We've seen most of the principles involved with this week's film -- costars John Laurie and Tom Waits, as well as writer/director Jim Jarmusch -- once before. While the inclusion of Down by Law (1986) in the Criterion Collection isn't nearly as absurd as Fishing with John, I still welcome our Sisyphean task forcing me to watch such a great film.
It's Easter week and Dovetailing with our recent conversation about Monty Python's Life of Brian we talk this week about Martin Scorsese’s 1988 adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis's novel The Last Temptation of Christ.
This is a highly controversial film to say the least, and still one that doesn't come up positively in conversation's about Jesus films in conservative circles. A Christianity Today article on the top 10 Jesus films even lists Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew - a film in which Jesus is a brooding, angry revolutionary made by a Marxist, atheist – while only making a passive negative comment about the “heresy” that is The Last Temptation.
Coming from a religious background that was one of the voices shouting against this film (though thankfully not as violently as the French) I've got a lot to say on the film. Pat does his best to humor me. I knock my fist on my desk a lot. This week's episode is certainly heavier on the philosophical, theological, and intellectual end of the sliding scale of ways Pat and Adam interact.
We talk a bit about the sort of people who get mad about films like this because Pat (as we discussed in the Life of Brian episode) has issues understanding people's lack of understanding. Interestingly, the Archbishop of San Francisco at the time the film came out essentially said the film would be confusing to anyone who didn't know the Gospels well enough. Lack of understanding is always an issue. Be open to other perspectives. Weigh them against what you know to be true, certainly, but still bring them to the scales.
Or don't. Whatever.
Further expanding our definition of what The Criterion Collection is collecting -- though in a different direction than the last episode to question it -- comes a television show. John Lurie created, directed, starred in, and composed for this series of fishing trips, and emphasis on the word trip. Fishing companions -- is it still fishing if you never catch anything? -- include Jim Jarmusch, Matt Dillon, Tom Waits, Willem Dafoe, and Dennis Hopper in six episodes of mundane fishing action and epic visualization, scoring, and narration.
Originally aired in 1992 on IFC and Bravo nearly a decade before we knew that either of those channels exist, Fishing with John has become a bit of a cult hit. Still have no idea why Criterion's released it on two different occasions, though. Whatever the reason, Adam and Pat loved Fishing with John so much that they cut this episode a bit short -- it's only 40 minutes -- to keep from just repeating their favorite bits and laughing at the memories.