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"Piñero" tells the story of the explosive life of a Latino icon, the poet-playwright-actor Miguel Piñero, whose urban poetry is recognized as a pre-cursor to rap and hip-hop. After doing time in hard-core Sing-Sing for petty thefts and drug dealing, Piñero's prison experiences developed into the 1974 Tony-nominated play Short Eyes. The resulting notoriety and fame was too much for the Latino bad-boy genius who retreated to the darker corners of New York City. Written by
A great story, a great performance, an average movie.
They'd do well to replace the words 'Director's Cut' with 'Director's Slice'. I was fascinated by Miguel Piñero's life, inspired by his poems, and blown away by Benjamin Bratt's performance, but the director and editor conspired to mug an otherwise good movie.
Put simply, Leon Ichaso tried to use an "edgy" style to mimic Piñero's edgy life and it's agonizing to watch. I've come to accept the conceit of the fractured narrative, but I just can't stomach the unending jump-cuts, unnecessary camera refocusing, and worst of all the switches between professional-looking color film and the sort of push-button, digital, black & white that I associate with low-budget TV shows. If any of this was innovative I'd accept it as the director's prerogative, but even in 2001 it wasn't the least bit innovative.
As I said it is a good story and Bratt exceeded my expectations by a power of ten. I actually recommend 'Piñero' strongly, it's an enjoyable and worthwhile film that deserves to be seen. I just wonder what it could have been if MTV's shadow wasn't looming over it.
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