a film by Brillante Mendoza
2007 | 86 mins | Philippines
›› Slingshot - Tirador
the raw reality of surviving life, the dishonest way.
Slingshot by Brillante Mendoza Having cinematically conveyed the sensuous life of The Masseur, here acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza turns his attention to Filipino life in the raw.

In the process, he captures candid camera style, the celebrated Quiapo Feast of San Nazareno, that of the noted procession in which thousands of barefoot Catholic devotees jostle for a chance to touch the sacred black statue of Jesus Christ, as forgiveness for their sins. Only judging by this feature, sins are a-plenty. For here Mendoza acutely showcases life on the wrong side of the tracks, as petty thieves and teenage thugs take their chance at making an underhanded living. What is clear is that the old adage of "no honour amongst thieves" still rings true, as each gang member sets out to keep the most lucrative part of the deal for himself, if not complain to their victim when a necklace turns out not to be worth its weight in gold.

Slingshot by Brillante Mendoza And here cue stolen goods, cheating husbands, straight sex, gay sex, drug use, a cat fight, let alone a police raid - and that’s just in the opening reel. Add in loan sharks, debt collectors, endemic corruption, elections of dubious merit, police brutality and the notorious reputation of parts of Asia’s city of sin, Manila, certainly appears to hold true. Only this is a work of fiction. Or is it? For here Mendoza has so convincingly blurred the line between with is real and fictionalised, that the result is a gritty faux documentary on the intertwined lives of those living in Quiapo’s labyrinth of slums. And yes, it’s not a pretty sight. But thanks to compelling hand-held camera work, sepia toning, coupled with an too lifelike cast, you’ll feel that you’re right in the heart of the side streets and back alleys of a slippery part of town, one where to "pocket a profit" is the name of the game.

Yet such is the energy of the piece, that no character takes centre stage for too long, the downside of which is that an emotional connection with anyone is difficult, if near impossible. Added to which, is that there’s nothing overtly gay on offer for the boys. Such are not criticisms however, given this is but an up-close depiction of life and death laid bare, one in which and as with other cultures, the sole hope of a way out of the poverty trap seemingly lies with a winning lottery ticket and not in the words of state officials who fail to deliver on their promises. All of which makes for graphic work of fiction on the raw reality of surviving life, the dishonest way, one that like Auraeus Solito's heartwarming feature The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, reminds you of the desperate measures taken by those who live below the poverty line. And here you have to wonder, will it ever change?

Gay Visibility - covert. 
Nudity - the full monty. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

›› Available to buy from Amazon.co.uk.
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue: 28.February.2011 / UK.
starring: Jiro Manio / Odie, Kristoffer King / Rex, Nathan Lopez / Leo, Coco Martin / Caloy,
Jacklyn Jose / Zeny, Julio Diaz / Diego, Simon Ibarra / Caloy's Father, Angela Ruiz /
Tess, Mark Dionisio / Pulis, Harold Montano / Rod, Benjie Filomeno / Elmo,
Arman Reyes / Tagasa and introducing a cast of many.
Copyright 2011 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #369
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