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PIÑERO

Miguel Piñero, the late New York Puerto Rican poet and playwright who won a Tony in 1974 for his play Short Eyes (later adapted powerfully for the screen by Robert M. Young), gets short shrift from self-indulgent director Leon Ichaso. So does Benjamin Bratt, who would have had a breakthrough performance as the thief, junkie, and would-be genius had Ichaso not broken it down into 10-second-long segments whipped into a pointless, pretentious fugue of flashbacks and flashforwards, shifting from black and white to color with occasional freezes and slo-mo backed by a jazz soundtrack, all reducing the artistís suffering and creativity into a series of narcissistic gestures. As in Julian Schnabelís far more successful Before Night Falls and Arliss Howardís middling Big Bad Love, the writerís mind is depicted as a squalid kaleidoscope, in this case with an attention span too brief to compose a sentence, let alone a poem or play. Brattís feline elegance, arrogance, and melancholy canít compensate for Ichasoís lack of restraint.

BY PETER KEOUGH

Issue Date: March 21 - 28, 2002
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