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A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

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A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints
Guide to Recognizing Your Saints: Walter Thompson

It’s been done before, and done better (Mean Streets), but first-time director Dito Montiel brings an unorthodox, in-your-face style to this autobiographical, exceptionally well-acted drama. The story flashes between the teen Dito (Shia LaBeouf) looking to flee the often violent streets of Astoria, Queens, in 1986 and the adult Dito (Robert Downey Jr.) returning to visit his ailing father and make amends with those he abandoned. Montiel uses audio (overlapping and repeated dialogue, sound dropouts) and image (hand-held cameras, characters talking directly to the audience) to create this worthy addition to the coming-of-age canon — a film about escaping from your roots, yet never being able to leave them behind. A slew of EXTRAS includes 11 deleted scenes (most are actually worth watching), an alternate opening, four alternate endings, and a commentary featuring an exuberant and unapologetically proud Montiel. ”If it felt good, we went with it,” he explains. ”Whatever felt right, we did it.” B+