Let's face it. Nobody likes bullies.
But there we are, struggling against various forms of bullying on a daily basis. Yes, bullies may not be in the form of physical human beings. How about inflation and the rising cost of living? How about facing the sudden downpour in the middle of a nice afternoon picnic? Nobody likes being cowered into something or somewhere without choice. Yet it is how the world operates. With a push, there's a reaction. Even if one may sustain abuse in silence, there's always a threshold.
But who exactly are the bullies and victims?
Chris Shimojima (of Madeleine Zabel fame) has the full intentions of depicting an angle towards the subject matter. Nobody likes to be the aggressor for no apparent reason, but of course there might be minor exceptions where pure evil breeds. Everyone likes being adored and appreciated, everyone enjoys being well-liked and, even better, being popular among friends. But it's never easy being one. Some work real hard towards achieving it while others had a natural talent and make it appear all so simple.
JT, the protagonist (or antagonist, depending on how you perceive it) instilled a negative vibe right from the beginning. The short film opened with a random scene where JT instructed his friends to label him "badass". A sense of arrogance with a tint of desperateness was evident, in a way where probably no viewers would take a liking to him.
But the mood set in by the dense music arranged by Cheryl Krugel-Lee kicked affairs off in a melancholic tone and it subsequently rendered the viewers a reason to believe that there's something wrong with JT. Through some erratic jump cuts depicting JT's inner self, it evoked a sense of progressive dire that built up to an inevitable conflict in the climax. That very climax would make or break your perspective of JT, depending upon how much you relate yourself to him.
It's my second time viewing Shimojima's work and I've to add that the short films thus far had given him great opportunities to tinker about in terms of style and direction. One trait that I'd managed to pick up was his interest in talkies - conversations.
JT vs the Good Guys had adopted an atmospheric style fueled impressively well by the music and cinematography (by Garrett Hardy Davis), but Shimojima nevertheless allowed the characters to mingle among themselves naturally with seemingly no leash on their dialogues. To be honest, I had expected monologues for a genre like this. But it was a pleasant surprise.
There were a few well-composed visuals of the surrounding scenery that added a lot of value to the production, which were soothing to both the eyes and mood. On a side note (sorry for being picky!), there's moments where the focus went soft and the hunting gave slight amount of distraction (which was amplified for me as I viewed it in full screen on a big screen).
Technically, JT vs the Good Guys was a much desired improvement over Shimojima's previous short Madeleine Zabel (but I must add that they were 2 different genres) in terms of cinematic look and feel. With an acute angle on bullying, this makes for a worthy 12 minutes viewing (which you can view in the player embedded below).
Looking very forward to Shimojima's next project!
(Recommended for viewing in full screen!)