The Search for One Eye Jimmy
Cast - Steve Buscemi, Samuel L. Jackson, John Turturro
Country of Origin - U.S.
Director - Sam Henry Kass
MSRP - $29.95
Distributor - Kino
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (3.5/5)
"Have you heard of The Search for One-Eye Jimmy?"
"No, I haven't what type of movie is it?"
Personally, I love when conversations start with movie recommendations for titles I have never seen, better yet never even heard of. 10 years ago it was easier to hit me with a title I had never heard of, these days less so, so when my new girlfriend (now wife) brought up The Search for One-Eye Jimmy, my ears definitely picked up.
This was in the days when downloading some obscure movie was still a difficult procedure, and so I had to go about tracking it down. I figured it being 2003 there would be at least a decent DVD copy I could secure during my Semi-Weekly orders with Deep Discount DVD, but alas it wasn't to be. The only place to have an available copy of the film was Sarasota Florida's legendary indie rental shop Video Renaissance so we could grab a VHS, and dust off my old VCR for the first time in about 3 years, and sit down with the film. She was familiar with it, I on the other hand was going in fresh. A feeling that I get increasingly less through the years, but have grown to appreciate more and more as time passes, and the internet becomes more prominent in my viewing decisions.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film during that viewing, and made note that if it came out on DVD to add it to my collection. 9 years have passed since then, and the film has faded into my memory, and I had all but forgotten about it, until Kino Lorber announced their acquisition of the title for their release slate, and not only was it getting a DVD release from Kino, but a Blu-ray release. My mind was blown, and I knew I would have to revisit and review?
So does the Search for One-Eye Jimmy hold up to my memory of the film?
Yes and No.
The Search for One-Eye Jimmy is by no means a good film. It is pretty much what I'll call standard 90's IFC-Bait, with some nice comedic flourishes. The setup is pretty typical, it is basically a film about making a film. In this case it tells the story of film student Les (Holt McCallany) a local Brooklyn-ite who has gone back to his old neighborhood with a cameraman to make a short documentary about the neighborhood. While shooting he discovers a local resident "One Eye Jimmy" is missing, and has been for a number of days, and decides to make the search the subject of his film. He then follows around various denizens of the neighborhood, including Jimmy's friends and family as they search for One Eyed Jimmy. It's all in the title.
The thing is it's a pretty bare-bones movie. It's funny at times, tedious at others, but what makes this movie special are the performances. There is a scene in Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People where Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan) describes the rise and fall of musical trends, and the places where they meet. This movie is sort of the meeting place of rising and falling stars.
On one side you have Jennifer Beals whose career exploded with Flashdance, but has been tepid since, and on the other side you have Steve Buscemi, Samuel L. Jackson, John Turturro, etc. These actors were the indie darlings of the 90's who have since that time made names for themselves, and gone on to the bigger and the better.
This is a film less about the story, and more about the characters, and although most of them are admittedly two-dimensional. It's the absurd nature of the characters (for example the disco obsessee), coupled with the outstanding performances by a group of excellent actors that elevate The Search for One Eye Jimmy to what could have been another drab and dull indie romp to, and elevates it to something much greater, and far more entertaining than it's first impression may give off.
Kino Lorber has presented The Search for One Eye Jimmy it's in native 1:66:1 theatrical aspect ratio in a decent 1080p transfer. Honestly, Kino has been doing some amazing work with their recent run of Blu-ray releases. And so when a film like The Search for One-Eye Jimmy only looks decent, I can only blame the source material.
The film was shot on 16mm, and blown up to 35mm for theatrical exhibition, and it appears that is the source of this transfer. The transfer is very soft, especially in the (quite frequent) exterior sequences. There is a good amount of print damage a few scratches, and specks, most notably a white speck that seems to linger for the duration of most of what would be the first reel. There are also "cigarette burns" on the upper right hand corner throughout the transfer.
The negative being out of the way this is definitely a major increase in quality from the VHS tape, obviously. The detail is greatly improved, flesh tones are accurate, and the graininess of the transfer does give it a very film like quality.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Master Audio Stereo Mix. It is a decent, but flawed transfer. That being said, the limitations of the audio appear to come from the location shooting, as there is a difference in quality between exterior and interior sound. I didn't have that hard a time hearing it, but as subtitles were not included I did occasionally find myself messing with the volume to understand slightly muddled dialogue.
A very short stills gallery, and 2 trailers for other Kino titles.
An interesting 90's Independent film, if not for the film itself, for it's excellent ensemble cast. The transfer is an upgrade from it's VHS days, but does have its share of issues, and the extras are pretty non-existent. This film is not for everyone, however for fans of 90's Independent films, and dedicated viewers of IFC. Recommended.