TIRADOR (Brillante Mendoza)

Urban drama is a very sensitive material; nowadays, there is a pressing need for authenticity, especially for people who are cohabiting with the urban landscape's woes day in and day out. Luckily, TIRADOR by Brillante Mendoza succeeds in dishing up the city's rawness and in the process, there are humorous encounters that we cannot deny it would be damn funny if we actually saw it in real life.

TIRADOR focuses on a particular slum community in Manila around the Quiapo area, known to most people as the home of the Black Nazarene and one of the pillars of the Catholic religion in the country; it is also the thriving place for petty criminals who are hidden in every corner, blending with the regular passerby.

We follow several interconnected vignettes that sum up the story's stance on the relationship of politics, religion, and poverty. Most notable is Kristoffer King, who plays a snatcher addicted to drugs.

The ensemble cast also features indie regulars Coco Martin, Jiro Manio, Julio Diaz, Simon Ibarra, and Jaclyn Jose to name a few. Simon Ibarra is electric playing the father of Martin's character despite the short exposure, very much the same impact Chris Cooper had onscreen during his brief moment in THE TOWN.

The story by Ralston Jover is compelling; Charliebebs Gohetia's abrupt cuts and fast-paced editing heightens the angst of the film-you should see how he edited the scene during mass at Quiapo Church. I have never been this excited by film editing since Vantage Point.

Unlike TRIBU, which is the closest film in recent memory in terms of subject material, TIRADOR does not rely on amateurish experimentation. Shots are not messy or nauseating, and the sound is crisp. Also, Brillante Mendoza avoids stereotyping characters as well as the environment in which such characters exist. I am always going to Quiapo and I tell you, shit is real. You have to have eyes on the back of your head when going to Quiapo.

The part about the Feast of Nazarene was a nice addition; it was central to the theme. Also, that bit about the DVD Player thieves was hilarious as hell.

To be seen in entirety, TIRADOR really is a sad note, how these people have degenerated into such state through their own fault and that of the community. Higher powers in the government and the Catholic Church are responsible, too. Both institutions are barely touched in this film, but when you summarize it, screenwriter Jover and director Mendoza are subtly making a social commentary on the issue presented.

This is Mendoza's best film to date, even better than SERBIS. I have yet to see KINATAY.

RATING: 5/5 


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