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:
I’ve never been a huge fan of Rosario Dawson, but James McAvoy and Vincent Cassel in a psychological crime thriller involving hypnotism and directed by Danny Boyle sounded like it could have potential.
Simon (James McAvoy) works at an art auction. He has gotten in way over his head with gambling debt that he owes a ruthless criminal named Franck (Vincent Cassel). In order to settle his debt with Franck, Simon agrees to help rob an expensive painting from the art auction. Things go wrong and Simon suffers a head injury which causes him to have amnesia. He cannot remember where he left the painting and therefore cannot pay his debt. Simon turns to hypnotism to try to help him remember and hopefully save his life.
The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Rosario Dawson, Danny Sapani, and Tuppence Middleton.
Trance is one of those movies that as soon as it ends you will want to watch it all over again just to try to figure it all out. It is intentionally a little hard to follow. It is a film that will play mind games with you. Because of the hypnotism aspect of the movie, it is often hard for the viewer to tell right away what is real and what is not. As events unfold on screen, you are slowly able to piece things together, but the movie keeps you guessing.
Each actor does what is necessary for their characters and nothing more. The film is thrilling enough. It felt like something was missing in the movie, but because it was so puzzling, it sort of made up for what it was lacking. Movies are meant to entertain, and this one served its purpose.
There is a bit of violence and gore, lots of nudity, and plenty of language all with a very fitting trance soundtrack.
Overall, if you enjoy movies that are unpredictable and really make you think, then you will probably like Trance.
I rate this movie a 7 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.
If you liked Trance, then you will probably enjoy the following films:
Fire with Fire (2012)
The whole movie was a little too convenient and pretty predictable. Watching this movie is almost like doing a puzzle where the pieces are numbered and you know exactly where each piece goes. The filmmakers took the guess work out of the film and therefore they took the fun with it.
It was all too formulaic. When you know what is going to happen next because it is so obvious, what is the point of watching anymore? You already know the story. There is no point. I felt like basically everything in the entire movie had already been done before in so many other movies.
I had low expectations about the movie before I watched it, but I was hoping that it would surprise me. It didn’t. Not one bit.
Josh Duhamel plays the main character in the movie. The guy is not capable of carrying a film on his own. He is not believable enough and just not a talented enough to lead a movie by himself.
Bruce Willis would have done a better job as the main character. At least he would have been able to make the obvious outcome of every scene a little more interesting with his trademark Bruce Willis tough guy charm. Unfortunately he chose instead to take on a supporting role. It felt like the guy just showed up to collect a paycheck. They gave him one good scene in the whole movie and the rest of the time he was just there.
I found it funny that 50 Cent was on the cover of the movie because he was only on screen for about a minute.
Vincent D’Onofrio hardly entertained as a bad guy. Vinnie Jones was a far superior and more believable tough guy (as he always is), but he gets disposed of way to early in the film and much too easily. Would you believe that Josh Duhamel would not have much trouble taking out Vinnie Jones, but would struggle against Vincent D’Onofrio? I don’t think so.
Rosario Dawson was Rosario Dawson. Good enough to be an actress, but just barely. Not a memorable performance. I forgot about it already.
Do not waste your time watching this movie. Definitely do not waste your money.
I rate this movie a 3 out of 10.
Buy, rent, or run? Run.
Here is a list of 13 other Bruce Willis movies that are better than this one:
- Die Hard 1 (1988), 2 (1990), 3 (1995), and 4 (2007) (we will count those as 1)
- Pulp Fiction (1994)
- Twelve Monkeys (1995)
- The Sixth Sense (1999)
- The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
- Unbreakable (2000)
- Bandits (2001)
- Hart’s War (2002)
- Tears of the Sun (2003)
- SinCity (2005)
- Surrogates (2009)
- Red (2010)
- Looper (2012)
Let’s face it, Vincent D’Onofrio has not been in 13 movies that were better than this one, but here are a few:
- Sinister (2012)
- The Newton Boys (1998)
- Men in Black (1997)
- Ed Wood (1994)
- JFK (1991)
- Full Metal Jacket (1987)
The same goes for Rosario Dawson, but here is her list:
- Kids (1995)
- He Got Game (1998)
- Men in Black II (2002)
- 25th Hour (2002)
- Sin City (2005)
- Clerks II (2006)
- Death Proof (2007)
- Eagle Eye (2008)
- Seven Pounds (2008)
Josh Duhamel has not made any good movies. He is probably most known for the Transformer movies.
This list belongs to Vinnie Jones:
- Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
- Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)
- Snatch (2000)
- Swordfish (2001)
50 Cent. Really? Okay he was alright in Righteous Kill (2008).