Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

When I usually sit down to watch a rented DVD having credits of critic awards received at various film festivals, they usually turn out to be way too good for my FQ[Film Quotient] and go wayyyy tangential over my skull… or turn out to be too topic specific (some movie that’s so dependant on a particular event/happening that understanding the movie requires some amount of context---Ex. The Good German) for me.
However this movie turned out to be very different from what I had expected it to be. It's a biographical fillm, directed by first time director Dito Montiel about his life and experiences in Astoria, New York. This film turned out to be a brilliant piece of drama asking incisive questions about life, success and relationships. The movie continuously oscillates between 1985 and 2005 [the adolescent years and the mature years of adulthood] and the moments are brilliantly captured and very well portrayed.
The movie hits off with Dito coming back home to Astoria after almost 15 long years due to his father’s ill health and it opens the floodgates of the memories of his youth. Dito was part of a gang in his youth who basically had no work. They indulged in booze, drugs and hooliganism. Slowly and steadily they start getting into trouble. Two of them get killed, 1 goes to jail for accidentally killing a member of the opponent gang, 1 goes majorly into drugs etc. However, Dito manages to leave this behind and goes to California to make a career and life of his own. He pens down a novel named “A Guide to Recognizing your Saints” where he believes that in spite of wasting himself and indulging in all kinds of wrong doings, he has come so far in life and established himself only because there were “Invisible Saints” who guided him towards a better life..towards his destiny.. to being a responsible citizen.

However, once he comes back he realizes that his decision to leave his hometown, his parents and friends behind might not have been the wisest decision after all. His dad had vehemently opposed his leaving Astoria citing that Antonio (the head of their gang, and a favourite of his dad) would set things right. Dito had been a late child to his parents, and he was doted upon by his parents. His dad especially was very emotionally attached to him and could’nt even imagine Dito leaving him to stay anywhere else at any cost. [That one may term as a very myopic approach to life… but what the hell… who isn’t possessive about their kids.. especially if he/she is the only one]. Once Dito left, his dad had consciously distanced himself from him and refused to even talk to him over the years. He realizes that although he had made a life for himself, in the contrary he had symbolically destroyed the lives of his parents by deserting them during the phase of their lives when they yearned for the support and love of Dito. As Dito comes to terms with the ghosts of his past, he must find a way to rebuild a relationship with his ailing but distant father, who never forgave him for leaving.

The film has brilliant performances by Shia LaBeouf as Dito and Channing Tatum as Antonio. Dianne Wiest as Flori [Dito’s Mom] does a superb job too, especially when she talks to Dito when he comes back and explains how pained they’ve been, and how she has waited for him to knock on their door for each and everyday of the previous 15 years.

Overall a must watch, specifically for people having a liking for serious drama and a panache for genuine film-making.

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At Thu Jun 07, 09:49:00 PM, Blogger PritS said...

dude.. come home sometime.. would watch nice movies over 29 inch tv. :)

I really miss baba sometimes. We watched some great movies together. And then he could explain it also. ON my own I feel like lost while watching such movies. :)

At Fri Jun 08, 11:52:00 AM, Blogger Nasal Crooner said...

yo yo thats a very inviting proposition :)
yeah.. i always prefer to watch such movies wid someone who's good enuff to understand the context :D

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