Pinero a Miramax Pictures film directed by Leon Ichaso


Review by Luis Chaluisan

Interesting how late seventies and eighties urban history is handled in the movie "Pinero." The movies producers and director/writer confirm a prediction made by Nuyorican Poet's Cafe co-founder Miguel Algarin more than 25 years ago about efforts to bring Latino creativity into the mainstream, "I see a lot of waste because before the great Hispanic hit is going to come out you're going to have to break through all of the cliches." Miguel Algarin August 1977. The movie about Miguel Pinero's life reinforces the view no matter how creative Puerto Ricans in the U.S. are we're still a bunch of savages.


"Pinero" is a cliche filled exercise delivered by Co-producer John Leguizamo and his cohorts that fails to balance the debauchery it emphasizes with the positive creative impact of the Nuyorican experience that Miguel Pinero helped found. AThere's no denying Miguel Pinero was one wild son of a bitch. Mikey Pinero would be the first to say it. And Miguel Algarin acknowledged it when I first met him in the late seventies but he put it in perspective then,



"Mikey Pinero is an area we live in. What's happened to him is exactly what he would have wanted along all lines. He's leading the life he loves. But at the same time the man is developing in a form that no other Puerto Rican playwright or writer has succeeded in. If a Pinero script attracts the studio guys at a TV show like Baretta with Robert Blake they tackle it... if they don't like it they let it go... they pay the 1600 dollars or 1800 dollars and take the loss."

 (August 1977)


The Miguel Pinero and Nuyoricans of the late seventies at the Sixth Street location (a space markedly different that the current incarnation on Third Street that's jarringly used for the movie) were much richer than what I saw on screen. Even the founding of the 6th Street Cafe - portrayed as a move by Algarin to get Pinero and his boys out of his hair - contradicts what Algarin himself held true in the Cafe's infancy, "At one point we were using Joe Papp's space at 4 Astor place by the Public Theater. I found that the workshop I had at the Public was too removed. Then Marvin Felix Camillo came in right behind me with The Family (the group that first produced Miguel Pinero) and occupied the space. Things changed when Joe decided to give up the space to rent out. Marvin had to get out too and then moving down this way was just a matter of facilitating what I wanted to be doing at that moment. Then when things developed along with my work with Mikey and Lucky, the Cafe was initiated as a continuation of the theater work."


Miguel Pinero, Bimbo Rivas, Pedro Pietri, Lucky Cienfuegos, Brenda Feliciano, Sandy Esteves et al. in the early days there was the power of life and death in the written word. At a time when mainstream media ignored Puerto Ricans they showed us who we were as a people and who we could become. This movie serves no purpose but to present the general public with a distorted view of Nuyorican creativity and do a hatchet job on a dead man whose words have outlived his hectic life.


I doubt it will survive more than a month in release.