Brillante Mendoza’s Scrappy Tirador (Slingshot) is His Second Feature in One Year


Can’t-stop-won’t-stop Filipino director Brillante Mendoza lets his voluminous storytelling urges run amok in this abject slum roundelay, an ADD cousin to his bustling-with-family but warmer Serbis, which took this year’s New York Film Festival audiences through cheek-by-jowl dramas in a cruise-happy porn theater. A nighttime police raid, like being shaken awake 10 times, introduces Tirador‘s micro-neighborhood of stacked hovels, sewer-lined alleys, and Darwinian scrambles. Men, women, and children are on the make (larceny mostly), their frustration compounded by everything eventually becoming everybody’s business. Despite nosing everywhere, the handheld hustling offers little point of entry to a ring of despair that ranges from a young thief who loses her dentures to a fatal accident at a church procession. That’s largely because Mendoza rotates glancingly, even impatiently, among storylines (a/k/a the characters’ doomed gambits), which is tough on the nonpro actors, but produces intriguing, gear-grinding soundscape shifts. Though Mendoza responsibly makes none of this scrappiness appealing, he needlessly hobbles the engagement that grounds the invigorating Serbis and even his plain but affecting Foster Child. But with Mendoza averaging two features a year, if you don’t like what you see now, just wait a few months.