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Culture fact
Five Spanish-language
films have taken home the
Academy Award for Best
Foreign Language Film,

4 films from Spain:
To Begin Again
(1982),
Belle epoque
(1993),
All About My Mother
(1999),
The Sea Inside (2004),

and 1 from Argentina:
The Official Story (1985).












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Spanish Language Films


BROWSE SPANISH FILMS: Contemporary Spanish films: ALPHABETICAL INDEX - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 | New releases | Spanish-language film collections | Spanish & Latin American film directors | Spanish & Latin American actors & actresses | Books about Spanish language cinema

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Spanish-language films on DVD & Video 2



Mondays in the Sun / Los lunes al sol
 


Drama (2002)
Spain
Director: Fernando León de Aranoa
Starring: Javier Bardem, Luis Tosar
A melancholy wallow leavened by gallows humor and a wry spirit, Fernando Léon de Aranoa's Mondays in the Sun takes as its theme the emasculating effects of joblessness in the age of globalization. A group of middle-aged friends spend their listless days lounging in a bar in a Spanish port town, struggling with unemployment after the local shipping magnate leaves for cheaper shores. Recalling similarly themed movies such as The Full Monty and Time Out, Mondays in the Sun is less hopeful than the former and less haunting than the latter, but Léon's movie packs its own considerable punch. The occasional pandering touch aside, Léon manages to avoid bathos, sprinkling his movie with welcome bits of drollery. One night sees the men watching a soccer match from the roof of the stadium, their view of the goal hilariously obstructed; another night has them emptying the liquor cabinet of the family for which they're supposed to be baby-sitting. Holding it all together is the imposing presence of the brilliant Javier Bardem. Playing Santa, a grouchy, hard-bitten soul, Bardem embodies the gruff camaraderie that buoys the men's spirits and stands defiant against the global economy's heartless workings. The movie enshrines its subtext in a memorable joke shared by one of the men: "Everything we were told about communism proved to be a lie. Unfortunately, everything we were told about capitalism proved to be true." A plangent plea for solidarity, not to mention a screed against capitalism and its excesses, Mondays in the Sun is an assured and moving work from one of Spain's most promising filmmakers.
Review by Elbert Ventura, All Movie Guide
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Common Ground / Lugares comunes



Drama (2002)
Spain / Argentina
Director: Adolfo Aristarain
Starring: Federico Luppi, Mercedes Sampietro
Based on Lorenzo F. Aristarian's novel Rebirth and directed by Adolfo Aristarian, Common Places is a family drama from Argentina. College professor Fernando (Federico Luppi) and his devoted social worker wife Liliana (Mercedes Sampietro) live in a modest apartment in Buenos Aires. When he is forced into retirement and she is at risk of losing her job due to poor funding, they decide to visit their son, Pedro (Carlos Santamaria), who has a comfortable bourgoise lifestyle in Spain. After the father and son express their differences, Liliana and Fernando sell their apartment and buy a house in rural Cordoba. The middle-aged couple enjoy their new setting until Fernando develops pneumonia.
Review by Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide
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Talk to Her / Hable con ella
 


Drama (2002)
Spain
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Javier Cámara, Darío Grandinetti
Writer-director Pedro Almodóvar makes another masterpiece with Talk to Her, his first film since the wonderful All About My Mother. Marco (Dario Grandinetti) is in love with Lydia (Rosario Flores), a female bullfighter who is gored by a bull and sent into a coma. In the hospital, Marco crosses paths with Benigno (Javier Camara), a male nurse who looks after another coma patient, a young dancer named Alicia (Leonor Watling). From Benigno's gentle attentiveness to Alicia, Marco learns to take care of Lydia... but from there, the story goes in directions that deftly manage to be sad, hopeful, funny, and creepy, sometimes at the same time. The rich human empathy of Almodóvar's recent films is passionate, heartbreaking, intoxicating--there aren't enough adjectives to praise this remarkable filmmaker, who is at the height of his powers. Talk to Her is superb, with outstanding performances from all involved.
Review by Bret Fetzer
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The Crime of Padre Amaro / El crimen del padre Amaro
 

Drama / Romance (2002)
Mexico / Spain / Argentina
Director: Carlos Carrera
Starring: Gael García Bernal, Ana Claudia Talancón
Review: This controversial film follows a handsome young priest, Padre Amaro (played by Gael Garcia Bernal from Y Tu Mamá También and Amores Perros), who arrives in a small town and finds himself surrounded by hypocrisy and corruption--and also finds himself tempted by a beautiful young woman who confesses that when she "touches herself," she thinks of Jesus. What makes El Crimen del Padre Amaro (The Crime of Father Amaro) particularly effective is that Amaro is no innocent--he skillfully forces a newspaper publisher to retract a scandalous story about the Church and is willing to take extreme steps to preserve his career. Some of the movie's harsher digs at the Catholic Church have provoked accusations of prejudice; but though Padre Amaro portrays a world in which no one's hands are clean, it also finds redeeming qualities in every character. A complex, completely engrossing movie.
Review by Bret Fetzer
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The City of No Limits / En la ciudad sin límites
 

Drama / Thriller (2002)
Spain / Argentina
Director: Antonio Hernández
Starring: Leonardo Sbaraglia, Fernando Fernán Gómez
Review: The City of No Limits is a tautly scriped and impressively acted film about family secrets and unresolved guilt. It could be considered a thriller since the plot involves uncovering secrets and discovering betrayal, but this isn't a fast-paced or action-packed movie with a lot of frantic scenes filled with danger and suspense. Nor is it a melodramatic film; there are some outbursts in it, but most of the characters don't display their emotions in an explosive manner. Instead, this is a measured film that carefully and sensitively explores the lives of its characters. The movie's greatest strength is its fine emsemble cast. Fernando Fernan-Gomez is affecting as the family's dying patriach, and he has a good rapport with Leonardo Sbaraglia, who carries much of the weight of the film as the son searching for answers. The rest of the cast is also excellent, including Geraldine Chaplin, who won Spain's Goya Award for best supporting actress. The film could have explored the lives of its characters in greater depth and moved at a faster pace, but otherwise it is a first-rate drama.
Review by Todd Kristel, All Movie Guide
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Valentin / Valentín
 

Drama (2002)
Argentina
Director: Alejandro Agresti
Starring: Alejandro Agresti, Julieta Cardinali
Description: Valentin has won the coveted Audience Award at the Newport International Film Festival (2003), the Golden Calf Award at the Netherlands Film Festival (2002), and seven Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards (2004) including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay. In Valentin, a precocious and imaginative 8-year-old boy named Valentin is raised by his grandmother. He dreams of becoming an astronaut and spends his time developing space suits made from whatever materials he can find. He also dreams of having a normal family and misses his mother, who abandoned him. During a visit from his father, he finds out about his father's current girlfriend, Leticia. Valentin asks to meet her with the hope that she will become his mother. This encounter between Valentin and Leticia opens up old secrets but also creates an opportunity that Valentin just can't pass up.
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Intact / Intacto
 


Thriller / Drama (2001)
Spain
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Starring: Leonardo Sbaraglia, Eusebio Poncela
This sleek, stylish thriller suggests that luck is a quality we possess, like strength or intelligence, but the more fortunate among us can steal the luck of those less charmed. When a bank robber named Tomas is the only survivor of a plane wreck, the luckless Federico thinks he's found the man who can defeat the Jew--the luckiest man alive, a Holocaust survivor who sits at the apex of a weird, underground world of increasingly dangerous gambles. But on their trail is a police detective named Sara who's pretty lucky herself--and as she learns more about how luck works, she begins to suspect she survived a car crash because she stole the luck of her husband and child, both of whom died. The stealthy story is packed with eerie visuals and charismatic performances, including Max von Sydow (truly one of the greatest actors alive) as the Jew.
Review by Bret Fetzer
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And Your Mother Too / Y tu mamá también



Comedy / Drama (2001)
Mexico / USA
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Ana López Mercado, Diego Luna
Review: Plenty of juicy "s" words apply to And Your Mother Too: sexy, sweet, subtle, sad, surprising, superb... and did we say sexy? With enough male and female nudity to qualify as softcore porn--but deserving none of the stigma attached to that label--this vibrant coming-of-age road movie is guaranteed to jumpstart any viewer's libido. Frank treatment of its characters' burgeoning sexuality makes this unrated film a real eye-opener, but it's never prurient or juvenile. Rather, the three-way odyssey of two 17-year-old Mexican boys (Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna) and a 28-year-old Spanish beauty (Maribel Verdú) is energetic and affirmative, while acknowledging that relationships--and sexual adventures--rarely develop without a hitch or two (or three). Filmed in sequence by Alfonso Cuarón (Great Expectations), and shot with invigorating natural style, this refreshing comedy-drama employs an omniscient narrator to reflect upon precious stolen moments, weaving three lives into a memorable tapestry of fun, friendship, and fate.
Review by Jeff Shannon
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Sex and Lucia / Lucía y el sexo




Drama / Romance (2001)
Director: Julio Medem
Starring: Paz Vega, Tristán Ulloa
Review: Sex and Lucia engages mind and body with its time-bending narrative and images of beautiful Spaniards having vibrant sex. The story shifts between past and present, fact and fiction, so a plot summary won't capture it, but… A young writer named Lorenzo falls into a passionate relationship with a waitress named Lucía. But he also finds himself drawn to a young nanny taking care of a child who just might be the result of an anonymous fling Lorenzo had with a woman he met on an island the year before. Lorenzo fantasizes about the lives of all of these women until a horrific event sends him into a suicidal depression. This may sound obscure or flat, but Sex and Lucía unfolds clearly and beautifully, featuring stunning visual images of both nature and flesh, and weaving a poetic spell much like the director's previous film, The Lovers of the Arctic Circle.
Review by Bret Fetzer
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The Devil's Backbone / El espinazo del diablo
 

Drama / Crime (2001)
Spain / Mexico
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Eduardo Noriega (II), Marisa Paredes
Seething passions, wandering ghosts, and an unexploded bomb fill this beautifully filmed tale of war and suspense. Though The Devil's Backbone was advertised as a horror movie in the States, it's really more of a drama that happens to have ghosts in it. During the Spanish Civil War, young Carlos is abandoned at a completely isolated orphanage. The tensions therein have been building for years, exacerbated by the unexploded bomb resting menacingly in the courtyard. Bullies scheme, tempers flare, and a ghost that visits Carlos's bed seems to be the key to it all. The movie is full of excellent performances, especially by Marisa Paredes as the gruff-but-kind headmistress, Eduardo Noriega as the handyman with secrets to keep, and Federico Luppi as the benevolent professor who likes to keep deformed fetuses in jars. A rich, satisfying drama with some good, spooky fun thrown in.
Review by Ali Davis
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