People commit mistakes. Sometimes, they commit it intentionally, but most of the times, they commit in “a spur of the moment” act or violence- to defend themselves, or, in a simple act of paranoia and reasons only themselves fully know.
And people always wants to “make-up”, to be given another chance to correct any wrongdoings they had committed.
But what happens when people are not being given any second chance at all?
Will they linger in a ‘blackhole’ of regrets and traumas, embracing forever the darkness of their souls and letting evil win forevermore?
That. That is the time that GOOD people, or, ‘angels’, have to step-in. With all their strength and might, ‘angels’ have to reverse the forever- circular method of UNFORGIVENESS.
‘Coz, people will always be people. People fall, people rise. And if people can’t fully rise, some better, “white- etherealic”-kind of people have to lift them up.
This message was fully presented at the film Dance of the Steelbars. A big battalion of lost people inside the Cebu City prison walls had to be ‘carried-up’, rehabilitated, reinvented.
Rather than waste their time doing drugs, gamble, beat each other up, think of riots and wars and do some ‘power-playing’ trips,- the Cebu City government, with its kind and objective lady Governor thought of making them more as productive individuals… through a DANCE.
A dance of life, as we must say, a dance of hope, and thrills, of joys, and through an artistic Cebuano pride- whose souls lingers and unite as ONE.
Those are the Visayan people’s nature. They protect each other, embrace each other, fight for each’s sake.
That’s why Visayan people are very progressive now. They never have any “crab mentality”. They all carry each other UP. Fellow Visayans unite- as in- “All for one, one for all”.
In the movie “Dance of the Steelbars”, one American (portrayed by Hollywood- American actor Patrick Bergin, yes, ‘the’ Patrick Bergin, and we couldn’t forget him in the movie Sleeping With The Enemy as the evil husband of Julia Roberts there) character came in-between and somehow became the tool to reunite once more the Visayan soul of the prison inmates. He became their friend. Without his character participation in the story of this fantastic and truthful film, all the rest of the characters involved would have gone astray- furthermore.
His most important contribution was the motivation factor in Dingdong Dantes’ character in the film. Dingdong’s character was the main character. And it’s important that an ‘outside factor’ had to come-in to give great support on Dingdong’s character- and it was the American.
Dingdong’s character was the one who taught the prisoners how to dance- with the help of a gay prisoner (sensitively portrayed by Joey Paras)- but didn’t want any recognitions or credits, after all. He did it secretly. In hidden corners of the prison walls as he and the gay man choreographed and rehearsed the dance numbers.
But, Dingdong’s character suffered some mental anguishes, no matter how tough and straight he looked. He accidentally killed a gay dancer and that was the reason why he was put into that jail. The past haunted him. He couldn’t fully move-on with his life. And it was worsened when he learned that his father died when a letter was handed into him inside the prison revealing the death of his father.
In one very poignant scene inside the common bathroom area of the prison compound, the dancer-prisoner and the American imparted the most powerful message of life. That someone would always feel your cries and deepest sorrows- even if you’re a bad criminal, even you’re a condemned man, and even if you never had the chance to prove your goodness.
Yes, someone could see. Someone could feel. And in that scene, the American guy felt the overwhelming sadness and chaos of a young man (thru Dingdong’s character), ‘wrongly’ sent into HELL.
Actor Dingdong Dantes was so good in that dramatic scene when he tried to suppress his tears inside the bathroom (as he learned of his father’s death). The audience watching in the premiere night of this film applauded with great power upon seeing Dingdong’s great performance on that scene alone. It was the most powerful portrayal of an actor that this blogger had ever seen in years.
American actor Patrick Bergin didn’t fail us. He simply proved via this film that he is ‘ the’ PATRICK BERGIN, after all. No more, no less. You could feel his very compassionate soul as a person via this film.
And how could we forget actor Mon Confiado in this film? His character in the film is the most sympathetic (‘coz he’s always being beaten hard and low), and Mon attacked it in a subtle way, but very well-felt.
In one very memorable scene there- Mon had to say these lines to Mr. Bergin: “Fuck You! Fuck Youuu!!! FUCK YOUUUUU!!!!!” And it was so powerful.
Mon delivered his lines with great penetrating power and ‘essence’. Because in that scene, Mon realized that the woman he loves is going to be freed the next day, and it was the American who helped her girlfriend be freed. But Mon’s character didn’t want the woman to leave her that’s why he got so mad at the American. What a great scene!
Gay actor Joey Paras was very wonderful in this movie. He provided the giggles and cutenesses, but he also provided some tears and acceptance.
We could say now, here is one gay actor that this blogger had been waiting for years! He is not the “chocolate-looking-monster-carricature-type’” of a gay actor who are forever seen in the silver screen as gags and ornaments, but could not be felt. Mr., oouucchh, we mean, Ms. Paras, is one gay actor who could impart a feeling of a “humane society” in the world of FAGS. Not even the ‘arrogant-type’ of a gay TV-host who always suffers from ‘guilt and depressions’ , or, an “ugly pig-looking gay bit player-TV host-tabloid movie writer” who’s always seen on those TV tele-novelas that creates a feeling of- “Ooooouuuuccchhhh, siya na naman? Nakakasuka na ang mukha n’yaahhh!” And we wondered why that gay bit player is always a regular “favorite” of that TV network.
Mr. Paras was such a delight to see. A real actor, in its real sense. Not trying hard! And that’s all for now…
And finally, one other member of the cast who left this blogger feeling ‘awed’ was Mr. Gabe Mercado. What a fine character actor! He portrayed his evil character in the film so easily but so graciously- oh, my. He’s so cool, but his characterization and performance was so unique in the film. Mr. Mercado is the kind of a new character actor who’s not the ‘old-school’ type. He didn’t characterize, at all. He didn’t pretend to be evil. But his acting skills showed it. Simply great.
Kudos to the young directors of this film- Cesar Apolinario and Marnie Manicad. The film was not superficial, and never pretended to be shown in an orchestrated manner, unlike the works of other ‘so-called’ New Wave of film directors who fakes art by showing beautiful settings and enchanted stories- this humble film/work of Mr. Apolinario and Ms. Manicad simply showed the message and the triumph of the human spirit, but directed and presented it in a more cinematic and effective manner.
Thus, directors Apolinario and Manicad, we could say, are far more better and original as ‘genuine filmakers’.
This blogger could see the flow and the style of the two directors, but, the film editor of this indie movie was ‘ambitious’ enough to be ‘self-centered’. He edited some scenes abruptly and in a foolish manner, maybe trying to impress his goodness as a film editor? But sorry, his editing style made the actors grasping for more highlights and the directors wanting a more “sense of flow”. The editor of this film was so BAD.
But thanks, the cinematography of this film added more beauty to the film. Mr. Rain Yamson, the cinematographer, adjusts with the “feeling” of each scene. His camera shots went clear with the light moments of the film, but went dark with the melodramatic scenes. He added ‘gloss’ and perfect camera ‘beats and rhythms’.
And again, it was the message and the story of this film that was ‘far more than perfect’. Given a well-loved story material, the scriptwriter did a good job. A deeper look could make us cry, but a second chance could make us smile.
words written by robert manuguid silverio