Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

One of the best things about my love affair with the movies is that I can see a movie more than once and get something different out of it every time. The movie can take on a new meaning, inspire me, force me out of a funk or just relax me for the night. I watched A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints this week and this time this film has inspired me in a way that makes me want to start making another film.

I can’t quite put my finger on why I love this film so much, or why I find it uplifting instead of saddening, but I do. When I watch A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints I know this summer in Dito’s life was traumatic and horrible, but watching the film you know that it was actually transforming, it was something that made him who he is today and he can’t escape that which is why the last line of narration in the film is so damn important – “In the end – just like I said – I left everything, and everyone. But no one, no one has ever left me.”

For me, everything I love about this film actually goes back to the style inherent in the film. It’s incredibly unique and that’s why I find it so inspiring. From the music choices, editing style, actors chosen, time line and narration of the film every element in this film works together perfectly to give you a snapshot of a summer and a man, and the style gives it a clear insight into what he must really be like and who he’s become.

The fascinating thing about A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, at least for a film intellectual like me, is the perspective of the film. Dito Montiel is played as an adult by Robert Downy Jr, and as a teen by Shia LeBouf; it’s about the summer that changed his life and that he ends up writing a book about as an adult and comes back to visit his neighborhood. However, Dito Montiel is also a real person, not just any person but the man who wrote and directed the film and actually wrote a book about these events in his life called A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. This might be one of the most autobiographical films I’ve seen in a long time and I can only imagine how unique an experience it had to have been for Montiel to put it on screen himself.

Right now A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is making me wonder if there is anything in my life, stylized or not, that would be just as entertaining to watch and as healing to put from page to screen. I don’t know the answer to that, but you can bet I will be thinking about that. I can’t imagine what that would be like as an artist to have something I can put out there that’s so literally personal, and how freeing it might be.

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