Directed by: Usher Morgan
Written by: Usher Morgan
Genre: Action, Crime
Length: 95 minutes
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Who is afraid of the big bad wolf? The seemingly simple answer isn't so simple when the wolf in question, is hiding in the clothing of a sheep. Easy prey for the ignorant with a special kind of shock and awe, for the person who believes "themselves" to be the wolf(s). And really? My clumsy analogy doesn't do justice when it comes to Jo Lee-Haywood and her kin. Who would have thought such a charming, hard working family would hide such dire secrets. Definitely not the marauding mobsters who plan to take their cut from, the profits of the family business. Maybe the name of the bar, owned by Jo Lee and her family, Pickings, meant it was theirs for the taking? A subliminal message of sorts. That "had" to be the case as the thugs entered the bar expecting an easy transaction. They couldn't have been more wrong. That dire secret I mentioned above? Jo Lee-Haywood is surely not an innocent sheep. She is, in fact, one third of a notorious and brutal gang. A founding member gone into a self imposed exile of sorts. As things begin to go sour within her and her families new life however, those true colors re-emerge. This was not a bar those gansters should have been shaking down. This was not a family that should have been messed with. Welcome to the world of Pickings presented by Usher Morgan.
First off, let me just say that the look and style of this film is a beauty to behold. Especially considering this is a lightly financed movie. In film terms that is. The artistic style, the use of roto-scoping, and the general pace and feel really is something cool to see in action. It's also one of those rare cases when going over the top was done so well, it doesn't feel over the top. It just feels stylized and actually... pretty sweet to witness. I wasn't into "all" the artistic choices. The decision to make Sam Barone, played nicely by Yaron Urbas, a black and white character was, and is, beyond me. I just didn't like it. Such a great character deserved some color. Other than that, I was a sucker for everything else. Especially the quick cuts to cartoon and back. Very nicely done.
Also worth noting is the entire troupe of talent involved. Usher Morgan has enlisted some very talented people and it really shows. Not just dramatically, but pertaining to style as well. It's not every day you can act like a walking cliche, and still be taken seriously. That "is" just what happens here. Cliche characters that are entertaining as hell. Especially Boone, played by Joel Bernard. Can you get any more stereotyped? Probably not. But the real kicker is that it's not corny. No more than is meant to be. That laughable throwback to western films of old, completely works in this film. Weird right? Jo Lee-Haywood herself, played by Elyse Price, is the most rounded character. Also the most dangerous. Except maybe when comparing to her sisters, but we don't get to see nearly enough of them to know for sure. Haywood's kids? Just your typical family. Played exactly as charming and stubborn as any kids you may know. This film works as well as it does "because" the characters are either completely believable... or so stereotyped that they simply "have" to be legit. Amen to that cowboy.
"Pickings" got my imagination flowing. At some points more than it should have. During the final scenes, I almost expected Emil Ferzola's character to end up being the devil himself. A demon at the very least. There was something sinister and strange about the way he handled the... end game. I thought it was so cool! I was also a little let down when that didn't turn out to be the case. "Pickings" in general was a great film. Really great all things considered. Just goes to show that you never know what to expect anymore from an independent lightly budgeted production... until you actually sit down and watch.