NBFF: Concrete translations, Indian burns

P4280601 - Photo Hosted at BuzznetOkay, filmgoers, it's time for a linguistics lesson.

CEMENTO ARMATO is the title of an Italian film. In English, would you call that movie...

(a) ARMORED CEMENT

(b) CONCRETE ROMANCE

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(c) both of the above

NBFF has opted for (c). But which is it really? IMDB says (b) is the international English title, but use of an online translator indicates that (a) is a more accurate translation.

In the film itself, the line is delivered by a crime boss to describe the city outside his window as being a place where he owns everything, and where anyone who defiles it must pay. The subtitles in this scene translate his description as "armored cement."

Not that this semantic argument is of great import, save for the fact that if it screens again, it might do so under either title.

The story it tells is of a young carefree dumbass named Diego (Nicolas Vaporidis) who steals stuff, and gets so pissed off during rush hour that he drives between cars on his little stolen scooter and kicks off the side mirrors. But when he does this to the aforementioned crime boss, a man named Zorzi (Giorgio Faletti), he fails to realize that the big guy will stop at nothing to track him down and exact vengeance. Meanwhile, out of pure coincidence, Zorzi also decides to rape the waitress at a local restaurant, and she happens to be Diego's girlfriend, which sends Diego into a rage and a determination to track down Zorzi, not knowing that he's the same guy who's after him over the mirror incident.

There's a whole lot of coincidence to the story, arguably more than would be believable, except that the coincidences seem to be the point in this story's fatalistic worldview. And it's a fairly gripping tale despite the fact that neither Zorzi nor Diego are particularly sympathetic characters, much as the movie tries to milk one's sympathies at the end.

Speaking of movies about young dumbasses on gasoline-fueled cycles, there's also THE INDIAN, which is one of many films at NBFF to feature a massive pet peeve of mine -- a 26 year-old playing a teenager. Matt Dallas is his name, and he's the star of TV's "kyle xy," which I've never seen, but I sincerely hope he displays more acting range in that than he does here.

Matt plays Danny, a kid with a dead mom and absent father, and a fondness for motorbikes. Drunk one night, he starts throwing a wrench at the window of a motorcycle store till it sets off the alarm (but doesn't actually break), and this is apparently such a major felony that he'll go to jail for a long time if some crafty legal maneuvers can't save him. Enter dad (Sal Landi), a hotshot Hollywood producer, who pays the bills, and with the aid of his lawyer manages to convince the judge that Danny's misbehavior is all his fault for being a terrible role model.

Meanwhile, Danny's aunt and legal guardian has to take a job out of town, so she leaves Danny in the care of the father whom he hates. But Dad has ulterior motives -- he needs a partial liver transplant, and Danny is naturally the best available donor. While he tries to figure out how to ask Danny for that big favor, he tries to bond with his son over the restoration of an old Indian motorcycle, with the help of a local vintage bike expert, who just happens to be the most perfect girl in the whole world (and a convincing teenager despite being in her twenties too), a bike fanatic who looks like Britney Spears a few years ago.

One of my favorite movies last year was HOT ROD, the Andy Samberg spoof about a would-be stuntman with an estranged stepdad. I've no idea if those guys actually saw THE INDIAN, but much of it could have been a direct parody. Danny's frequent temper tantrums are meant to be deadly serious, but watching them one cannot help calling to mind Napoleon Dynamite, or Samberg. Landi, a solid character actor who generally only gets background roles, does a decent job, but once you've seen Ian McShane play the same role for laughs in HOT ROD, this again feels strained.

Let's put it this way: THE INDIAN is the kind of movie in which, whenever anyone feels a strong emotion, they knock something off the nearest table. If they fall down in pain, they grab something while falling and knock that over.

I wish the filmmakers would knock it off.


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