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:
Wrecked is a low budget independent film that may have exceeded expectations if given the proper opportunity.
Before watching this movie, I knew nothing about it except for the fact that Adrien Brody was the main character. I have been a big fan of Brody ever since I saw the film The Pianist (2002). He acted his heart out in that movie and I quickly came to find out that he usually does in all of his films. It’s no wonder that he received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Pianist.
Wrecked is about a man (Adrien Brody) who awakes to find himself badly injured in a mangled car wreck in the middle of a densely wooded area at the base of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. He has no memory of how he got there, who he is, or who the dead passengers nearby are. He is stuck inside of the car and is forced to try to survive as he contemplates his past and how he got into his current situation.
The film was directed by Michael Greenspan and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Caroline Dhavernas, Ryan Robbins, Adrian G. Griffiths, Adrian Holmes, and Jacob Blair.
I listed the rest of the noteworthy cast, but in reality Wrecked is a one-man show. The vast majority of the movie is Adrien Brody acting alone. The movie has some similarities to 127 Hours (2010), All is Lost (2013), The Edge (1997) and Unknown (2006).
It takes a highly talented actor to make a film like this watchable, let alone entertaining. Brody was up for the challenge and he was a superb choice for this role. The pain that his character felt in in the movie appeared genuine in every way. You feel for his character as if the events that are happening to him on screen are actually happening.
The film is pretty gruesome and intense. There is a bit of language throughout, but it all serves to make the story more realistic.
Unfortunately, I think that this movie is underrated and under watched. It didn’t get the chance that it deserved in theatres.
The movie grabs on to you in the very beginning and keeps you guessing what will happen next. It is slow at times, but that is to be expected when there is basically only one person in the film. The suspense holds your attention throughout as Adrien Brody’s character is injured in the wild and facing what the wilderness has in store for him.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
If you liked Wrecked, then you will probably enjoy the following films:
127 Hours (2010)
The Edge (1997)
All is Lost (2013)
Usually you cannot go wrong watching a Robert Redford movie. All is Lost is like no other Redford film because he is the only person in the entire movie.
Of Course, the concept of only one person in a movie has been done a few times before. Usually movies like this one give the actor the opportunity to show what they are really made of. Movies like this are risky because one person has to literally carry the whole film on his back. In Redford’s case, it is up to him whether he sinks or swims.
All is Lost is about a lone sailor who rips a hole in his boat after crashing into a shipping container in the middle of the ocean. He is forced to use whatever he has on board to try to stay afloat in order to survive.
The film was written and directed by J.C. Chandor and as I mentioned before, Redford is the only person in the movie.
Redford has been behind the camera more often in recent years than he has been in front of the camera. All is Lost is the second film that he has been in this year. The first one was The Company You Keep (2012). Redford is now 77 years old. It is almost like he has realized that he is not getting any younger and has decided to try to go out with a bang. What better way to do this than to be the only star in a film and showcase all of your acting skills for the world to see. He did exactly that in All is Lost and in my opinion, it was his best performance since the film The Natural (1984). It may also, quite possibly, have been Redford’s best movie overall since The Natural.
All is Lost is not a feel good movie, but it is a movie that might make you feel better about life after watching it. It is definitely a film that will stick with you.
Because the film is a one-man-show, there is not a lot of talking. Not just anyone could have starred in this movie, and to me, it was more meaningful that it was Robert Redford who did. It is a hard story to tell and an even harder part to act.
I think that All is Lost is Redford’s third best movie behind The Sting (1973) and The Natural. It is hard to beat those two films, and given that they were made 29 years ago and 40 years ago, you really can’t compare them.
Fans of Redford will not be disappointed with All is Lost. I think that it is one of the best films of the year. He deserves an Academy Award nomination for best actor and the film should be nominated for best picture.
I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
If you liked All is Lost, then you will most likely enjoy the following films:
127 Hours (2010)
The Machinist (2004)
Before he played Batman, Christian Bale turned into a character named Trent Reznik in The Machinist. Reznik is an insomniac who has not slept in a year. His body begins withering away. His mind begins to deteriorate. He is so exhausted that he becomes delusional and paranoid. Eventually his symptoms cause an incident at work that sets off a chain reaction that sends his life spiraling out of control as he loses grip on reality. He becomes a man tormented by his own mind.
The Machinist is brilliant. The plot has so many twists and turns that will keep you entranced and guessing until the conclusion sneaks up on you.
9 years after watching this movie for the very first time, it’s still just as potent as ever. That is a symptom of excellence. It never gets old.
Christian Bale appears like he went through hell preparing for his role as Reznik. He went from being in close to perfect shape to looking like death. He was so bony that he literally appeared like he could drop dead of starvation at any moment.
Shortly after seen this movie for the first time, I remember reading that Bale lived off of nonfat lattes, green apples, and cigarettes. That was his diet. It was basically all that he ate for weeks. I think it’s incredible how his body went from one extreme to another. To top it all off, shortly after The Machinist, he got into even better shape than he was prior to filming The Machinist, in order to become Batman. Talk about a man dedicated to his work. His devotion to his character helped to turn this movie into a masterpiece.
The Machinist is pretty warped. The film will mess with your mind in its own unique sort of way. Prepare to be puzzled. This is filmmaking at its best.
I rate this movie a 10 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? BUY!
If you liked The Machinist, then you will probably enjoy the following films:
Henry (Rick Gomez) is a very successful author who becomes haunted by the same nightmare every night. The nightmares started after he endured a shocking experience. He begins to write a new book, but his writing all reverts back to his nightmare. Paranoia ensues as he tries to figure out what the nightmare means.
I did not have very high expectations for this movie. I figured it would be a hit or miss. It was not outstanding by any means, but it was a nice change from the norm and it held my attention throughout. The film will transport you into a world of uncertainty. What is truth and what is fiction? It will keep you guessing all the way to the end.
I did expect Bryan Cranston to have a much larger part. The cover of the movie is very deceiving because he is on it. His role was a cameo at best. He was in the movie for maybe a minute and a half. The cast is a bunch of well known character-actors. I think that Cranston is all over the advertising because he is the most well-known actor in the whole movie. I think that it was a waste that he was not in more of the film. I guess the advertising technique was successful because having not seen the trailer for the movie; I only had the cover to go by. Thinking that it was a Bryan Cranston movie is what got me to watch it. It is not a Bryan Cranston movie, but I’m glad that I watched it.
If you enjoy puzzles and mindbenders, then this movie is for you. There are many twists and turns and all sorts of clues in this mystery. Can you figure it out?
I rate this movie a 7.5 out of 10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.
If you liked Leave, then you will most likely enjoy the following films: