Multi-awarded actress Maggie Smith was halfway through her cancer treatment when she made Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, starring as Professor Minerva McGonagall.
“I was hairless. I had no problem getting the wig on. I was like a boiled egg,” she said.
The chemotherapy was, she said, “something that makes you feel much worse than the cancer itself”. “You feel horribly sick. I was holding on to railings, thinking ‘I can’t do this’,” she said.
But she insisted she will “stagger through” the final Harry Potter film, The Deathly Hallows. Let’s just pause and ponder on how awesome this woman is, a true Gryffindor.
Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (2011)
D: Alvin Yapan
S: Jean Garcia, Rocco Nacino, Paulo Avelino
To dismiss Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (The Dance of Two Left Feet) solely as a gay film is to do it disservice. It is much more than that. It is a film that takes on gender roles and how dance and the little gestures that build it become a means of communication and sexual expression, and an exploration of the interplay between the people engaged in it.
Sayaw follows three individuals: Karen (Jean Garcia), a professor of literature who sidelines as a classical dance instructor, and her two students. The first is Marlon (Paulo Avelino), a well-to-do guy who enrolls himself in her dance class to get her attention, and the other is Dennis (Rocco Nacino), Karen’s apprentice who secretly teaches Marlon the dances on the side. Their stories are interwoven, each so carefully told and fused through words, form, and movement. Art binds the three. There are hardly ever overt displays of physical or verbal intimacy. It’s solely in the medium in which they scream their innermost longings.
The relationship between Marlon and Dennis isn’t overtly pronounced. Their glances and gestures, particularly during their dances, are charged with tension so sharp it slices the atmosphere between them. Marlon uses movement to express his longing for Dennis, how the kineticism of each touch, slide and grasp depicts his all consuming desire.
Karen emerges as their guide, an orchestrator who never imposes herself. She embodies the feminist poetry she teaches and merely aims to reveal what is naturally there, a hidden passion so palpable it gives weight to each step and stance of their performances. Though she might be subjected to the gazes of both Marlon and the audience, she averts them, by revealing herself as not an object of desire, but an independent subject driven by her own principles. There are moments in which Karen seems most vulnerable. Coincidentally both scenes occur in front of mirrors. Here the filmmakers effectively break any imposing gaze and reveal nothing but the characters themselves.
But more importantly, Sayaw deals with artistic pursuit and the state of artists in a third-world country. Set in the FEU campus, which is home to art deco architecture, the film perfectly melds poetry and dance into an everyday setting, questioning the place of art and its role in our lives. The film also centers on how the arts are taught in a country where such subjects are relegated to the sidelines.
If there’s an abundance of romanticism that happens in the film, it is mostly focused on poetry, dance, and art rather than the non-love affair between the two male leads. Dennis, Marlon, and Karen are transfigured into a means of conveying a love affair with the arts, lovingly enunciating each word in every poem, every turn and sleight of hand evoking a torrent of emotions any of them will never get to say.
Sayaw is a technically proficient film. The scenes are edited tightly and the dance sequences, choreographed by Eli Jacinto, are nicely shot, which is almost an achievement itself. The film resolves to be a ravishing waltz into the burning fires of desire; you can actually feel the anguish that each of the leads feel. Ultimately, Sayaw is a cultural triumph, highlighting the achievements of Filipinos in the poetry, architecture, and dance.