Sunday, 1 December
Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: El pico II (cine quinqui retrospective)
doors open at 20:00, film starts at 20:30.
El pico II (1984) by Eloy de la Iglesia 122 minutes In Spanish with English subtitles
El pico II is a stunning sequel that can be watched on its own, even if you haven't seen Eloy's smash film El pico, made just one year earlier. This time the action is set in Madrid, in the infamous Carabanchel jail, which became cine quinqui's 'actor's studio' since so many of the performers in these movies were real life criminals. Although the follow-up is less gritty, it remains true to El pico's mix between denunciation essay and action thriller. Because Eloy was, in a way, an unrefined version of the Greek director Costa Gavras, with the added intensity of a filmmaker who was not just a self-declared communist, but also openly gay and addicted to heroin.
And heroin is indeed at the heart of this story. Our junkie heroes, Manzano and Pirri, play two cell mates - a posh kid and a working class quinqui - who help each other navigate the prison’s informal power structures, including some pretty unsavoury gay and transgender characters. El pico II deals blow after blow to different aspects of the new Spain: private rehab clinics, the prison system, class privileges, ETA, the press, the Guardia Civil. It goes in-depth into the corruption of the courts and legal system. It exposes the abject sociology of the prison - how it pits prisoners against each other, how it uses hardcore prisoners to punish 'soft' ones.
All this with the added bonus of a glorious flamenco soundtrack and two of the best knife-fight scenes of the whole cine quinqui era.
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