Shirkers Screen 5 articles

Shirkers

2018

Shirkers Poster
  • Though the original film, a precocious answer to “Breathless,” has been lost, Tan has ingeniously refashioned the old footage into “Shirkers,” a cinematic memoir of growing up weird in Singapore and how a strange, incomplete production altered the trajectory of her life.

  • The footage is wildly delightful, evidence of what should have been a watershed contribution to Singapore’s independent film movement—of which Tan and her very young collaborators could have been leading voices. No amount of caustic self-criticism from Tan can dampen the thrill of witnessing the vibrancy and bounteous energy of everything captured within the frame.

  • The new “Shirkers” offers copious samples of the film that was shot in 1992, and it’s gloriously, gleefully idiosyncratic, a blend of punk energy and local documentation, a sort of antic reflection of Tan’s and her friends’ extremes of imagination and their sentimental attachment to their families, their friends, and their city. It’s raw and spare, colorful and filled with ingenious sight gags and bright touches of cheap costuming.

  • [Cardona] was just like Tommy Wiseau, perhaps, but the footage that survives from the shoot — starring Tan, directed by Cardona — has gorgeous colors and textures, is lively in its archival capturing of period fashions and flecked with moments of true personality from mostly inexperienced non-actors. It’s not hard to imagine the finished film taking a place somewhere in the area where No Wave underground classics or early VHS slashers get appreciated: its weaknesses and charms are inextricable.

  • The story of what happened to Shirkers – 70 cans of film stolen by an older, Svengali-like American director called Georges Cordona – forms the spine of Tan’s directorial debut, also called Shirkers. But far more interesting are the outsize characters of the three women who got together to make it: determined Tan, outspoken Ng, and their intrepid general go-for Sophia Siddique-Harvey – three inexperienced schoolgirls in a city with no filmmaking community.

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