A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)
I had never even heard of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints until I rented Charlie Countryman (2013) at the Redbox. When you rent Charlie Countryman, you get A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints as a bonus movie. They give you a two-for-one, a double sided disc for the price of one movie. It’s a Shia LaBeouf double feature. They are both indie films. This was all the more intriguing to me, so I watched each movie the other night. You can guess what one of my next reviews will be.
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints was based on the book with the same title. Surprisingly enough, the man who wrote the book, Dito Montiel, also directed the movie. The movie is a film adaptation of Dito Montiel’s life growing up in Astoria, New York in the 1980s. The story is a look into a messed up childhood in a rough part of the city. It follows the struggles of inner city teenagers, Dito (Shia LaBeouf plays young Dito, and Robert Downey Jr. plays grown up Dito) and his friends as they are becoming adults. The circle of friends are pitted against drugs, violence, sex, love, hate, loss, and hardship. All the while, Dito wants to escape New York and try to make a better life for himself somewhere else.
The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Channing Tatum, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest, Rosario Dawson, Melonie Diaz, Martin Compston, Scott Michael Campbell, Anthony DeSando, Adam Scarimbolo, Peter Anthony Tambakis, Laila Liliana Garro, and Eric Roberts.
I’m surprised that this movie got past me 8 years ago, because the cast is excellent. I should have been aware of this film earlier. It’s another low-budget independent film that slipped through the cracks.
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints was hard to watch, at times, but it was also hard to stop watching. The film was an excellent depiction of how rundown certain areas of the country can be and how it affects the people living there. It’s indeed unfortunate, but it’s in-your-face honesty. Some people won’t be able to handle the honesty of this movie. The trashy characters, obscene language and other vulgarity, along with the sex, nudity, and mindless violence, among other things, will be too much for some.
But, you have to take the sweet from the sour. There is indeed a silver lining in this story. The headlining actors in this film are exceptional. The movie makes you feel like you are in the slums with the characters experiencing it all. The actors portray a remarkable friendship and camaraderie that helps you come back to the reality that people often try to be good even if they are bad.
The story is rigid and rocky, but the writing and acting make it all worthwhile. Here is an unknown gem for those who are willing to give it a chance.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
If you liked A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, you might also enjoy the following movies:
Happy Birthday to Chazz Palminteri! He turns 61 years old today.
Chazz was born Calogero Lorenzo Palminteri. It’s a good thing he goes by Chazz because I don’t think anybody could become famous with a name like Calogero.
Palminteri is known for his gangster/crime dramas. He usually plays the tough-guy gangster in charge.
The two also acted opposite each other in the gangster movie satire comedy Analyze This (1999).
Chazz was on the right side of the law in The Usual Suspects (1995).
He didn’t seem to know which side he was on in Running Scared (2006).
His performances are usually pretty explosive, so it should be amusing so see him in videogame form. Tomorrow you will be able to play the new Uprising add-on for Sony Playstation 3’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II. This add-on has already been available for Xbox 360 gamers for about a month. As part of the map pack there is a new Zombies experience called ‘Mob of the Dead.’ Chazz contributes his voice to the character Salvatore ‘Sal’ DeLuca. He joins the likes of Ray Liotta, Michael Madsen, and Joe Pantoliano who are all most known for their roles in gangster movies. Famous gangster movie icons killing zombies, let me just grab my controller.