"My name is Dito and I'm going to leave everyone in this film"
In this autobiographical coming-of-age piece, director Dito Montiel
confronts his gritty past in Astoria, Queens. He tells the doomed story
of a teenage boy who spends his days in the seedy hot crime-infested
backstreets of 1980's New York City to the day when he leaves for
California and does not return until twenty years later, when his
father (Chazz Palminteri) is sick. The retelling is impressive and
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is bursting with the flair of a
debut director, who is eager to employ a wide variety of techniques
steadicams, punctured narrative, flashbacks, script interjections,
dreamlike non-chronological editing and an uneven pace. The good news
is that it channels Spike Lee's criminal Queens street style with
fast-paced local jargon that recycles 'fuck' in every sentence and
snaps and crackles like kindling in a fireplace between its many
thug-like characters. Owing to its coming-of-age format, the story
often stays wildly unfocused and you get the feeling many scenes do not
serve a purpose other than to get us a feel for the venality with which
things were run.
Nevertheless, the characters are all absorbing, especially the young
versions of Robert Downey Jr, Eric Roberts and Rosario Dawson. One of
these is Antonio a childhood friend of Dito's and local bully who
does wonderful improvisation-like raw lines. The vast contingent of
American preeteen fangirls who were lusting after Channing Tatum after
his cheesy teen movies had put me off this actor at first, but it
cannot be denied that he gives one of the most intense performances in
the film as Antonio he is hard-edged, testosterone-fuelled and
doomed. Robert Downey Jr. is remarkably toned down as the grown-up
Dito, delivering sparse lines and abandoning his usual colourful style
Together the four Queens teens harass girls, beat up rival gangs,
shoplift and give attitude to on-lookers and this is undoubtedly when
it feels the most like Spike Lee Lite. Saints patiently crafts tension
at several points in the story, and it prefers climaxes to continuity
as bad events snowball into criminal messes, deaths and the final
abandonment by Dito. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is an
interesting and compelling story, recreated with deft strokes by local
Sting and Trudi Styler loved the script so much they went to great
lengths to support the production, and Chazz Palminteri delayed the
shooting of another film of his with money out of his own pocket just
to be able to play the bruised father in the film. These should serve
as marks of its success and most of all the commitment with which its
cast approached the film.
7.5 out of 10.
I'd like my two hours back, please
"My name is Scotsbag, and I'm going to leave this movie. In the recycle
Just watched it on the always-execrable Sundance Channel, and here are
the 5 highlights of the film:
1.) ah, hold on... 2.) no, wait, um... 3.) almost had it... 4.) jeez...
5.) what was I saying?
On the plus side, the nudity was good, though more would have been
better. But it was truly a shame that each character couldn't have been
killed off; people this profoundly stupid are inarguably better off
Excellent actors trapped in a vanity piece that was technically
well-crafted but populated with characters who apparently escaped from
South Park and Goodfellas.
"Aside from that, did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?".