A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

Director: Dito Montiel

Nominated for several independent film awards, this autobiographical film by Dito Montiel, adapted from his own memoirs, earned both a Special Jury Prize for the ensemble performance of its cast and the achievement award for directing at the Sundance Film Festival. In telling the story of four teens growing up way too quickly in the violent mean streets of 1986 Astoria, Queens New York, Robert Downey Jr. plays the author Montiel as an adult returning to the neighborhood after a long period of estrangement as we go back in time to see the struggles the kids faced on a daily basis trying to avoid the far too common reality of friends who end up as addicts, convicts, or corpses on the sidewalks. The entire cast, most notably the relative newcomers taking on the 80’s roles, is wonderful and the brutal urgency and sense of accuracy about a specific time and place helped inspire major talent support in the form of Dianne Wiest, Chazz Palminteri, Eric Roberts and Rosario Dawson who turn in fine, if somewhat smaller in scale portrayals. The film is a challenging one to view that felt reminiscent of Spike Lee’s similarly plotted Do The Right Thing in its telling of a melting pot of mixed ethnic tensions and stressors reaching a boiling point during the humid summers in the city—while Lee’s is obviously the masterpiece, Montiel’s film is all the more riveting on its own when you realize it’s true. Check it out!

Musical Selections from A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

“Native New Yorker” by Odyssey
Odyssey - It Will Be Alright - Native New Yorker

“Welcome Back” by John Sebastian
John Sebastian - The Best of John Sebastian - Welcome Back (Theme from Welcome Back, Kotter)

“Baby Come Back” by Player
Player - The Best of Player - Baby Come Back - Baby Come Back

“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John & Kiki Dee
Elton John & Kiki Dee - Elton John: The Greatest Hits 1970-2002 - Don't Go Breaking My Heart

“My Maria” by B.W. Stevenson
B.W. Stevenson - Radio Hits of the '70s - My Maria

“Trouble” by Cat Stevens
Cat Stevens - Footsteps in the Dark - Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 - Trouble

“Rock and Roll” by Lou Reed
The Velvet Underground & Lou Reed - Gold: The Velvet Underground - Rock and Roll

“Brother Louie” by Stories
The Stories - Best of the 70s - Brother Louie

“Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty
Gerry Rafferty - City to City - Baker Street

“New York Groove” by Kiss
Kiss & Ace Frehley - The Very Best of Kiss - New York Groove