Jungle
A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints

A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints

Movie
Director(s): 
Genre: 
On DVD: 
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Grade:
B+
Running Time: 
98 minutes

This is the story of writer/director Dito Montiel’s coming of age in 1980’s Astoria, Queens. Afraid he will become another casualty of his neighborhood, either through a violent end or an unfulfilled life, Dito eventually abandons those closest to him and heads to California to try for a fresh start.

The conflicted interests between Dito, his parents, and his friends are portrayed very well. The pacing is very good though a bit more material from Dito’s return would have been nice. Ultimately this is a great look at how this man was trapped in his life and made the tough choice to break every bond necessary to take control of his future. When he’s brought back years later due to his father’s illness he finds that the people he left almost exactly as they were. The cast does a great job with fine script. The environments seem quite natural as do the ties between the characters. This is a very honest picture that comes from the writer/director’s heart without being sappy.

There’s a fair amount of extra goodness to be found here. Starting with the usual, you’ve got director and editor commentary, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and trailers. Then there’s a collection of alternate openings and endings (one and four of them, respectively) with optional commentary, a short clip called “Rooftop Scene” that director Dito Montiel wrote and starred in for the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab and Director’s Lab, 2 minutes of video footage with Dita’s father Monty, and a 2 minute audition for the role of young Laurie by a girl who didn’t get the part. I don’t really see the relevance of the last one but it’s worth a quick peek.

For the quality of the film and the various features, I’d call A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints at least a rental with a good chance of purchase.

Review by Baron Aloha