Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

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Originally uploaded by sean's jawns
Lately, I have had a fascination with watching Robert Downey Jr. movies. I’d forgotten how much I love him as an actor until I picked up Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and threw it into my DVD player a few months ago. Now I am obsessed. Since I opened a Netflix account and now have access to everything I added most of Downey’s catalog and Christian Bale’s to my queue. The latest Downey film I received is A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.

The film is autobiographical about the life of the director/writer of the film and book - Dito. In the film Dito is played by Robert Downey Jr. in the 2005 time line and Shia LaBeouff in the 1986 time line. In the present Dito has just written the book about his life as a teen in Queens and why he left, and his mother gives him a call because his father is sick and won’t go to the hospital so she wants Dito to attempt coming home and taking him. Dito left home in 1986 and hasn’t been back since. The film recounts the events that led up to Dito fleeing home in the flashbacks with Shia LaBeouf.

I enjoyed this movie, but I don’t think that it is one that will appeal to the mass audience. The director has chosen to add some experimental elements into the film that won’t sit well with a large portion of the audience. There is subtitles put in the film when they would not normally be necessary, portions are edited similar to The Limey where you flash forward and backward with characters during a conversation so you don’t see them speaking while you hear them conversing, and the fourth wall is broken multiple times.

It is my opinion that this film worked in this format because it was made by the author of the book. It is obviously not a faithful adaptation to the entire book, but rather focuses on something very specific that Dito needed to work through – his relationship with his father and the life that he wanted for his son. This is actually one movie that really makes me want to learn more about the man behind it and read the book.

Director & Writer: Dito Montiel
Dito: Robert Downey Jr.
Young Dito: Shia LaBeouf
Flora: Dianne Wiest
Laurie: Rosario Dawson
Young Laurie: Melonie Diaz
Diane: Julia Garro
Jenny: Elenore Hendricks
Guiseppe: Adam Scarimbolo
Nerf: Scott Campbell
Young Nerf: Peter Tambakis
Antonio: Eric Roberts
Young Antonio: Channing Tatum
Monty: Chazz Palminteri
Mike: Martin Compston
Frank: Anthony DeSando

Dito: In the end - just like I said - I left everything, and everyone. But no one, no one has ever left me

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