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A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

106 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description


A film adaptation of Dito Montiel's memoir of the same name, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is a compelling, thoughtful movie based on Montiel's childhood growing up in 1980s Queens. A writer and director who understands his limitations, Montiel wisely left the acting to the pros. Shia LaBeouf (Holes) plays him during his adolescence, while Robert Downey Jr. (Good Night, and Good Luck, Wonder Boys) portrays the grown-up Dito. Never mind that there is absolutely no physical resemblance between the two actors; LaBeouf and Downey are so convincing in their roles it doesn't matter. Switching effortlessly from present day (where Dito is a successful author) to the past (where he is a tough little kid trying to figure out if there is life beyond New York), A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints tackles Dito's complicated relationship with his parents (Chazz Palminteri and Dianne Wiest), as well as the friends he left behind. Eric Roberts is magnificent in a small role as one of Dito's tough, childhood buddies. His powerful performance makes viewers remember there was a time when Roberts was better known for his acting skills than for being Julia's big brother. Montiel--a first-time filmmaker--won the Director's Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival for his autobiographical movie. Raw, gritty, and honest, Saints) makes a strong impact and leaves the viewer curious as to how the rest of Montiel's life will work out. --Jae-Ha Kim

Special Features

  • Director and Editor Commentary
  • Alternate Opening and Endings
  • Deleted Scenes
  • "Shooting Saints: The Making of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Rosario Dawson, Shia LaBeouf, Dianne Wiest, Melonie Diaz
  • Directors: Dito Montiel
  • Writers: Dito Montiel
  • Producers: Alex Francis, Amanda Mackey Johnson, Bobby Sager, Charlie Corwin, Clara Markowicz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Alchemy / Millennium
  • DVD Release Date: February 20, 2007
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KB489I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,654 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By MICHAEL ACUNA on October 4, 2006
Recalling your childhood can be a slippery slope: you can choose to glaze over the bad and present an imaginary world in which very little is based on reality or you can choose to tell it like it is or was.

Whether or not Dito Monteil scrimps on the bad in his film of his autobiography, "A Guide to Recognize Your Saints" is very doubtful because this film is at turns brutal, violent, emotionally poignant and difficult and many scenes are so truthful that they are almost impossible to watch.

There is also much beauty here: scenes of Love: Dito (a truly amazing Shia LeBeouf in a career making performance) and his father (the great Chazz Palminteri) in the bathroom after Dito's friend is killed, a grown up Dito (Robert Downey Jr.) and his mother (a tragic, loving, disappointed Dianne Wiest) on the porch stoop discussing Dito's friend Antonio (a terrific Channing Tatum )...these scenes form the emotional center of the film around which all the others rotate and draw strength from.

"AGTRYS" is ultimately a story of friendship among 5 boys (Dito, Antonio, Mike, Joey and Nerf): all desperately poor, all full of pride and bravado and all full of emotional and sexual fire with very few ways to diffuse and direct it.

Dito Monteil has created a thoughtful, emotional and heartfelt film, a memoir really, about his childhood and the people that were most important to him at that time. It truly is about the everyday Saints and Angels that people our lives and because it is set in a slum in no way diminishes its beauty and grandeur.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Liza G. on January 12, 2007
Format: DVD
I saw "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" at the 2006 Sundance festival and I was blown away. If it's rough and imperfect, it's successfully so; its quirks complement the youthfully wild and tragic themes of this artfully presented memoir. Part of what made the film for me was Dito Montiel's apparent sense of humor in dealing with his past. "AGTRYS" is an infusion of sex, tragedy, violence, and uplifting spirit. I left the theatre feeling great and I've been searching desperately for the DVD ever since. Try it!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on March 19, 2007
Format: DVD
This well-made film has galvanizing performances by a young, energetic cast and some wonderful turns by veteran performers, Dianne Wiest and Chazz Palminteri (plus a cameo by Eric Roberts). The cinematography and editing create a constantly kinetic and agitated style of storytelling. The viewer is propelled between past and present, as the central character, Dito, lives and relives the experience of being a teenager 25 years ago on the mean streets of Queens. Based on the memoir of Dito Montiel (who also wrote and directed), the film covers ground we have seen in many other films: coming of age in a working class Italian-American neighborhood, where street talk is rough, violence is everywhere (both in and out of the home), and just getting through childhood alive is a major achievement.

Some viewers may wonder whether Robert Downey, Jr., is the right fit for the role he plays, but if you're a fan, you won't mind his portrayal of a perplexed and troubled man thrust into the position of making amends with a dying father who seems to have loved another man's son more deeply than his own. The DVD has a commentary by the director, an informative making-of featurette including interviews with cast members and the director, plus other material.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Andreas Ignatiou on March 23, 2007
Format: DVD
A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints is truly affecting in a very unconventional way. The story follows Dito (played with electrifying realism by Shia LaBoeuf as young Dito and Robert Downey Jr. as older Dito), growing up in the Astoria part of Queens. When one of his closest friends ends up dying in front of him, he flees his life in Queens for something more. Twenty years later, his father (Palminterri) is sick and Dito comes home to take him to the hospital. When Dito left, he virtually killed the relationship between him and his father. Chazz Palminterri hasn't been this good in years. The young cast featuring "Step Up" star Channing Tatum as Dito's friend Antonio and Melonie Diaz of "Raising Victor Vargas" are a match for their older counterparts played by Hollywood A-listers, this case Eric Roberts and Rosario Dawson. This film has the strongest emotional impact of any recent film, partly because of director Montiel's unconventional style, which uses subtitles in unexpected places and brilliantly avoids all biopic clichés. This is a respectable feat alone. It's worth seeing if only for the pure raw energy that hasn't been felt this vividly in any film of this kind since Scorsese's masterpiece "Mean Streets". Make no mistake, despite the excellent group of stars this film is very much about the excellent young actors. It is worth whatever Amazon may be charging for it. Excellent and emotional.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. Smith on January 5, 2007
Format: DVD
Director Dito Montiel's "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" covers very familar ground. The coming-of-age story on the New York streets harkens back to films such as "Mean Streets", "A Bronx Tale" as well as countless others. What makes it memorable is the confident direction, bold script and steller acting.

The semi-autobiographical tale follows a young Dito as he begins to look for a life beyond the narrow world of Astoria Queens. His father (Chazz Palminteri) views Dito's pending departure as an act of betrayal to the family.

Surprisingly, one of the strongest performances comes from Channing Tatum as the doomed street thug who's life is tied to Dito's. He struts his way though the role like a young Brando at his peak. His character is the one of most vibrant and most heartbreaking seen in a film this year.

Though the genre is familiar, this film breathes new life into the tired style. It proves that it isn't the subject matter that makes a great film, but, rather the way in which it is presented.

Highly recommended.
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