The Secret Life of Jonathan Sky is one of those shorts that grabs you from the very beginning. It does this not through unnecessary "artsy" shots of two individuals making love or an out-of-place act of violence, but by introducing a suspiciously well dressed individual by the name of Jonathan Sky (sporting a Reservoir Dogs type tie, which should give any viewer pause) who pulls over to the side of an abandoned highway and makes up his car to appear as if it's having trouble. Our new friend then leans against his car and... waits. For what? For whom? Saying any more would spoil all the fun, and trust me when I say that the impact of Kevin Slee's newest production is best going into with a blank slate.
As you watch SLJS you'll realize that there was a lot of behind-the-scenes action that had taken place to culminate in what would make this the "climax" of the story (or the beginning, if you're creative enough). It's interesting to note that this in no way harms the sequence of events, and in fact may help it since it's so short - again, it's best to know as little as possible. Regardless, the story is straight to the point and is easy to follow going in. As the plot thickens, you'll find yourself relating with Amir Malaklou's (The Haymaker) character and situation (an understatement), because the background story between he and the beautiful Lexi Sakowitz (Election Day, Study Date) is one that almost any adolescent finds themselves envisioning in one way or another at some point in their life... fantasy or reality.
There were a couple parts that surprised me during the short 14 minutes. For one, Slee wasn't afraid to take the emotional arena to a place that is rarely seen on the student circuit - or at least in such a mature, thorough, and emotionally impacting manner. You can tell that our director, although already talented, is becoming quite the risk taker and already has no qualms in presenting the audience with some "taboo" material (I use quotes because nothing is really taboo anymore. For example, incest and abortion were once taboo subjects in the world of broadcasting... but are now explored in almost all genres of filmmaking and television broadcasting, without consequence. That's just to give you an idea of what I mean). While many viewers may have become desensitized to violence and sex due to such films as SAW and HOSTEL, the Eli Roth's and Quentin Tarantino's of Hollywood should really be looking to filmmakers such as Slee to get an idea how audiences can be affected once again.
Vijay Venkatesh and John Snyder return to compose for The Secret Life of Jonathan Sky, with slow keynotes really working to pull the viewer in and then low beats to underscore the darker parts. Music really works in a short like this, and the final product of Venkatesh and Snyder are anything but average. The main actors Sakowitz and Malaklou are decent enough, but it's the attitude that Malaklou channels in his character, reminiscent of Casey Affleck's Lou Ford in THE KILLER INSIDE ME, that REALLY gets the juices flowing. This short is worth viewing, if only because of this personage.
Everything in this short works - however, ironically enough, it's simply too short and the ending leaves something to be desired.
I recommend this to anyone who wants to spend a good 12 minutes watching an intriguing story. There's talent in Slee's shorts, and anyone who can, SHOULD jump on the bandwagon - there's something in this for everyone.
8 out of 10
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