A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is based on director Dito Montiel’s youth during the mid-eighties in the tough neighborhood of Astoria, Queens. All his old friends have ended up dead, as junkies, or in prison; Dito is the proverbial man who got out. For him, the “saints” are the folks he remembers, the ones he left behind. For better or worse, they made him who he is today.
Just the way memories can flood consciousness, Montiel uses the same motif to flood the screen with his stories. The past gets layered upon the present, and the film comes to life. The performances are real because the characters’ words are real; they’ve been said before. The strength of the film isn’t looking back through a nostalgic, Vaselined lens; instead, Montiel infuses the memories with both the exhilaration and pain of youth.
The outstanding cast members are dedicated to finding every nuance and truth. They capture the frenetic quality of the time, not only in the streets and on the rooftops but also in the bustling family kitchen. Montiel’s New York is steamy with humidity, cooking, and adolescent sexuality. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is an honest account of a bittersweet return to a neighborhood that isn’t the same and never will be again. –Sundance Film Festival
Dito Montiel, born as Orlandito Montiel, (July 26, 1965) is an American author, screenwriter, director and musician.
Born in New York City, he came into the public eye after the breakup of his hardcore punk band Major Conflict. Later, Montiel would gain notoriety in 1989 when Geffen Records signed his newly formed outfit Gutterboy to a $1 million record deal – an unheard of sum at the time. The band was dropped after its debut and was dubbed one of the most “successful” unsuccessful bands in rock history.
In 2003, Montiel published A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, a memoir detailing his life growing up in Astoria, Queens in the early 1980s during the rise of the hardcore punk scene. The book describes his time spent touring with his band Gutterboy and his brief modeling career with Versace along with other personal anecdotes.
After adapting his best-selling book into a screenplay, Montiel made his directorial debut with the film version of A Guide to Recognizing… read more
So here's a director who rips off Mean Streets, Basketball Diaries, Bronx Tale (Bronx Tale?!?), and at the same time keeps stressing how "real" it all is. He's long on attitude, that's bank, but he is good with his actors, and even when the cliches do a log jam, he pushes forward with some unexpected bit or observation. So here's a director who's not quite there yet, but worth watching out for, I'd say.
I personally thought this was great.. Reminded me of Kids... but without the STIs. All of the cast were brilliant. Wish I'd seen this sooner.