Picking Up the Pieces
Now who would have thought that when a butcher from Texas, called Tex (Woody Allen), murders, chops up, and then buries his philandering bitch of a wife, Candice (Sharon Stone), on the outskirts of New Mexico, that anything divine would come out of this grizzly deed?
Yet - somehow it does.
You see, not so long after
buries Candice, one of her appendages that he forgets to bury - her hand - slips
out of his truck, and miraculously cures a blind woman who accidentally comes
across it. Moreover, when this once blind woman tells this news to the pastor
of her village, Father Jerome (David Schwimmer),
he promotes this 'Holy Hand' in the local media after some medical scrutiny, inadvertently prompting quite a lot of
outside attention in the process. Tex
OK. I know what your thinking. 'Is that good news or bad news?'. Right? Well, depends really.
perspective, when he hears about this 'miracle hand', in haste, he attempts to
drive back down to Tex ,
and then looks into this matter further. However, before is able to do this, one
of Candice's old 'male companions', Sheriff Bobo (Kiefer Sutherland), temporary
detains Tex, because he believes that he has killed her. New Mexico
Whereas from Father Jerome's perspective... errr... things do get slightly more perverse all in all. On the one hand, this 'miracle hand' does cure a lot of people of their 'ailments'. Whilst, on the other hand, all of these cured people profit from their cure via the tourists parading the area, as well as provoking additional scrutiny from the cardinals Devils Advocate (Elliott Gould), and his follows.
Oh! And if you think that things could not get any more strained than this, they do!
is eventually released from Bobo's custody, he goes down to Tex
and steals Candice's hand from the church. Plus, in addition to this, this
theft causes all of the cured people to revert back to how they were
previously, although New Mexico is caught
and detained in prison. No. Not by Bobo. Who does catch up to him soon after. But by the town's Mayor (Cheech Marin) instead. Who along with Father Jerome, pieces
together the truth about 'the hand' with some inadvertent help from Bobo
Though I suppose that is why what next transpires is a right turn up for the good book, huh? As spirits forgive the caged - confessions are slightly upstaged - people fight back against the law - and it all end with a marriage between a priest and a whore.
Many a year ago, when I was a lad on a back-issue mission, buying everything up from my local comic shop that looked different or old school in tone, I came across a comic book called 'Tales of Suspense'. Now, for that time (2003 ish), this comic was pure nineteen fifties charm. The stories were baroque and jovial. The art was bold and dramatic. Plus the colour scheme that lavished this tale was stark and contrasting as well.
OK, I am sure that you're wondering to yourself, why the hell I am telling you about this 'Tales of Suspense' comic book, when I should be reviewing this film, 'Picking up the Pieces', instead. Correct? Well, these two forms of entertainment are not mutually exclusive you know. If anything, this film and this comic book both share a very strange symbiotic bond in style, content, and execution, together.
You see, this film has that nineteen fifties mystery comic book feel to it, which is very alternate in essence and tone. For example: (1) The pretext starts off very strange and weird - like a man cutting his wife's head off and then stuffing it into a glass jar. (2) The mood lighting throughout the tale is garnished with a harsh and monotone vibe - like a green tinged background highlighting by a red tinged foreground. And (3) The overall character arc is never fully explained - like a man walking off into the distance at the end of the story, without any of the facts within this tale fully expanded upon.
However, does any of this make 'Picking up the Pieces' a great film or what? Well, so-so really. To elaborate:
THE GOOD: (1) The concepts festering behind this film is very-very funny indeed. Like the idea that someone like Woody Allen is married to someone like Sharon Stone, or that the hand of a dead slut can cure people of their ailments - no matter how harsh or trivial. (2) Woody Allen is a hoot in this film, and you can not help but crack a smile when he goes off into one of his nervous rants. (3) The message behind this movie was a nice one to discover, and does go to show that the supernatural does move in mysterious ways. (4) The Mexican flavor to this film really enhances it in the execution, because it gives it that extra spin to make it stand out from your conventional 'alternate' yarn.
THE BAD: (1) Although I understood the idea behind some of the colour schemes used in this flick, on occasion it did detract from the story itself, as well as the overall arc too. (2) Apart from Woody, many of the other actors weren't as good at 'busting a gag' like he does - even if the joke was a good one. (3) The flimflam structure of this film can be a might disconcerting at times, and has a rather vapid pace to it as well. (4) The sub-plots did not really seem to work within the grander arc of this movie [like the prostitute and the priest, and that whole Devils Advocate scenario], because they just came cross like filler to another story.
Overall 'Picking up the Pieces' is not that bad a movie really. It is one of those good-bad films that has a very nice and alternate spin compared to the more conventional fair.
Oh! Wait a minute! On second thoughts, I would like to re-clarify this film as a good-alternate movie, with a couple of bad points to it. Not many though, but one or two of the comic book kind.
THE RATING: B+