Hustle is a la carte from “BJ’s Mobile Gift Shop”
Can we be friends with our circumstances? This is the question that Jason Park asks us in their short film, “BJ’s Mobile Gift Shop.” Byung Jun Lee, or BJ for short (played by Johnnyboy Tellem), is in the middle of transitioning away from a “career” selling a variety of goods to Chicagoans that are “moving way too fast and can’t keep track of [their] shit.” From portable battery chargers, painkillers, and an entire rack of business-ready attire, BJ’s rolling convenience store will come to you for what you need– a la carte, and at a price.
We all know someone like BJ. Someone synonymous with “the grind.” BJ’s commitment to his work is familiar from an immigrant mindset too–the part that equips us with the skills to survive just another day. Combating racism and classism brings us closer to BJ’s deftly tuned social wit and grit. It’s noteworthy to see an Asian American in this socioeconomic ladder exist on film. It speaks to the countless and thankless working class experiences that are not glamorous but we’re damn good at. The film lives on this thread and handles it with grace.
Just like BJ, this short film gets a lot done in a small amount of time. It’s easy to appreciate BJ’s hustle and the different languages he has to speak in order to survive Chicago’s speedy urban life. While we continue to rage against the machines that keep us low, we also have to remember: Adapt or die.
“BJ’s Mobile Gift Shop” was screened as part of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.