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Culture fact
Salma Hayek was the first
Mexican-born actress to be
nominated for an Oscar for
her title role in Frida (1992)
about the legendary Frida Kahlo.





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for more films
featuring these Spanish-
speaking actors & actresses:

Antonio Banderas
Javier Bardem
Demián Bichir
Penélope Cruz
Benicio del Toro
Fernando Fernán Gómez
Gael García Bernal
Salma Hayek
Fele Martínez
Carmen Maura
Eduardo Noriega
Marisa Paredes







Culture fact
Robert Rodriquez produced El
Mariachi
with a film budget of
only $7000. He had no crew; he
served as director, writer,
producer, cameraman, and
special-effects person, and
used passers-by as extras.






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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 6



El Mariachi


Action / Thriller (1992)
Mexico / USA
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Carlos Gallardo,
Consuelo Gómez
Review: Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez captured the world's attention with this little 1992 film, made for only $7,500 (not counting the cost of a little prerelease polish) and originally destined for the Spanish-language video market. An enterprising studio executive saw the enormous Spielbergian talent in Rodriguez's work and decided to get El Mariachi out to the international public. A tight, inventive, highly entertaining movie from start to finish, the story concerns a guitarist mistaken for a hired killer and forced to fight a local crime boss and his army of goons. Rodriguez makes clever use of every available prop, from guitar cases to a beat-up bus to a funny-looking dog. But his promise as a director--he went on to make Desperado and From Dusk till Dawn--is evident in every scene.
Review by Tom Keogh
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Like Water for Chocolate / Como agua para chocolate




Drama / Romance (1992)
Mexico
Director: Alfonso Arau
Starring: Marco Leonardi, Lumi Cavazos
Review: Expect to be very hungry (and perhaps amorous) after watching this contemporary classic in the small genre of food movies that includes Babette's Feast and Big Night. Director Alfonso Arau (A Walk in the Clouds), adapting a novel by his former wife, Laura Esquivel, tells the story of a young woman (Lumi Cavazos) who learns to suppress her passions under the eye of a stern mother, but channels them into her cooking. The result is a steady stream of cuisine so delicious as to be an almost erotic experience for those lucky enough to have a bite. The film's quotient of magic realism feels a little stock, but the story line is good and Arau's affinity for the sensuality of food (and of nature) is sublime. You might want to rush off to a good Mexican restaurant afterward, but that's a good thing.
Review by Tom Keogh
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A Tale of Ham and Passion / Jamón, Jamón




Drama / Comedy (1992)
Spain
Director: J.J. Bigas Luna
Starring: Stefania Sandrelli, Penélope Cruz
Review: Salted pork shanks as leitmotiv in a dark comedy about an absurd love triangle: this is what post-Franco cine is all about (food and sex). Spanish tortillas (i.e., potato omelets) are also big in this one. Director José Juan Bigas Luna's Jamón Jamón is intelligent, wry, and--despite the formulaic narrative that melodrama must essentially contain--unpredictable. At times his film exudes a certain Almodóvar flavor, but there is an edge, perhaps a heavy-handedness, to the dark humor that is either Luna's success or his downfall. The film garnered the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, after all. Try to follow: sexy Penelope Cruz (Belle epoque) is growing up with her mother outside town on the highway, on the wrong side of the highway. Together they run a truck stop where cars and life literally race past. Cruz is in love with Jordí Molla, by whom she is pregnant. Molla's bourgeois mother, played by Anna Galiena (Being Human), thinks he can and should do better. (Of course, neither Cruz nor his mother knows of the erotic, hmm, avian interludes Molla enjoys on the side.) To save her son from the lower classes, Galiena hires Javier Bardem, a muscular, pretty man (whose regular consumption of the pork he distributes for a living has enhanced his sexual appeal) to pursue Cruz. The dark comedy finds a proper ending to the triangle in a grotesque but comedic landscape of death. This is not a cookie-cutter movie but rather one that will resonate with both your light and dark sides. After each surprise, you'll chuckle, feel guilty, and chuckle again.
Review by Erik Macki
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The Age of Beauty / Belle epoque


Comedy / Romance (1992)
Spain
Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film
Director: Fernando Trueba
Starring: Fernando Fernán Gómez, Jorge Sanz
Review: This Spanish fluff from 1992 won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but its significance goes about as far as you can throw a flower petal. The story finds an elderly artist (Fernando Fernán Gómez) giving shelter to a deserter (Jorge Sanz) from the royalist army in provincial Spain, 1931. While on the premises, the young man naturally notes the beauty of all four of his host's daughters. Each takes her turn at seducing him, but this isn't late-night cable TV so much as it is a series of brief character sketches filled out by the way each woman takes charge. It's a clever idea made more clever by the fact that these sundry beauties are acting on the libertine impulses to which their free-thinking father subscribes in principle but has sheepishly abandoned for love. But the film, directed by Fernando Trueba, is rendered so lightly it could almost be mistaken for calendar art.
Review by Tom Keogh
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Tie me up! Tie me down! / ¡Átame!


Drama / Crime (1990)
Spain
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Victoria Abril, Antonio Banderas
Review: Perhaps only Pedro Almodóvar could come up with a story about a mental patient who stalks and kidnaps an ex-porn star--and turn it into a tender love story. But that's exactly what happens in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, a lively installment from the Spanish director's wacky middle period (after the scruffy early films, and before his mature melodramas). Two of Almodóvar's sexiest stars, Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril, play the leads: a cracked young man with dreams of bourgeois domesticity, and an actress who used to specialize in porno and heroin. Despite that fact that he binds her limbs with cord when he leaves the house, he always returns with a cheerful "I'm home!" For all Almodóvar's outrageousness, there's a touch of classical Hollywood in his construction. And while this movie is not for the politically correct, it does play by its own warped rules.
Review by Robert Horton
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Rojo amanecer
 

Drama / Thriller (1989)
Mexico
Director: Jorge Fons
Starring: Héctor Bonilla, María Rojo, Jorge Fegán
Description: The setting is October 2, 1968 in Mexico City. There are only ten days left before the Olympic Games and a small student revolt has turned into major political turmoil. A meeting will take place that day in Tlatelolco (the largest housing complex in the city) and the situation is extremely tense. A typical middle-class Mexican family (living in Tlatelolco) becoms tragically involved in the events when the meeting is brutally interrupted by the army and 100s of people are killed in the square in front of their apartment building. About one of the darkest days in the political history of Mexico.
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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown / Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios


Comedy / Drama (1988)
Spain
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas
Review: Pedro Almodóvar broke into the art-house mainstream with this wild, manic comedy about a gaggle of women and their various problems with men, be they married lovers, cheating husbands, fiancés, or terrorists. Almodóvar's long-time leading lady, Carmen Maura, stars as an actress (famed for her laundry detergent commercial as the mother of a sloppy serial killer) who's just been dumped by her married lover. In the midst of trying to track him down for a face-to-face confrontation, she crosses paths with her lover's son (Antonio Banderas), his unbalanced wife (Julieta Serrano), and his new girlfriend (Kiti Manver). Adding more fuel to the fire is the hapless friend (Maria Barranco) who got involved with a Shiite terrorist and is now being hunted by the police. Almodóvar, a master of farcical screwball comedy, manages to keep all these balls in the air in dizzy, hilarious style without once losing his momentum. Chock full of the director's over-the-top stylization, in terms of both story and sets, the film is a hilarious yet heartfelt marriage of kitsch and drama, verging on parody but never going entirely over the top. Maura is absolutely breathtaking as the unhinged lover, dispensing wise advice to others while trying to keep a semblance of sanity, and the supporting cast is quintessential Almodóvar, including a brief but memorable turn by Banderas in what could have been a bland, go-nowhere role. Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1989.
Review by Mark Englehart
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In a Glass Cage / Tras el cristal
 

Drama / Horror (1987)
Spain
Director: Agustí Villaronga
Starring: Günter Meisner, David Sust, Marisa Paredes
Description: Klaus (Gunter Meisner of The Boys of Brazil) is an ex-Nazi, a doctor whose war-time post in a concentration camp enabled him to commit the most appalling sex crimes against boys. After the war, living incognito in Spain, he again gives in to his depraved desires, until shame and despair drive him to an unsuccessful suicide attempt.
Now confined to his room and kept alive on an iron lung, he is ministered to by his resentful wife Griselda (Marisa Paredes of All About My Mother) and her daughter Rena (Gisela Echevarria). Into this environment comes Angelo (David Sust), a strange, handsome young man who offers his services as a nurse. Against Griselda's judgement, Klaus insists that the visitor be allowed to take the post.
A perverse relationship develops between Angelo and Klaus, becoming ever more macabre as Angelo reveals he has found diaries detailing his employer's war-time activities. Words turn to deeds, Klaus's shame turns once again to desire, and a new spate of child killings begin.
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The Realm of Fortune / El imperio de la fortuna
 



Drama (1986)
Mexico
Director: Arturo Ripstein
Starring: Ernesto Gómez Cruz, Blanca Guerra
Synopsis: Dull-witted Mexican peasant Ernesto Gomez Cruz comes into possession of a rooster severely injured in a cockfight. He restores the bird's health and wins several bouts, then runs afoul of gambler Alejandro Parodi, who has the rooster's ribs cracked so it can never win again. Taking Cruz under his wing, the gambler teaches the peasant how to be tops in the speculating field. In the company of Parodi's girlfriend Blanca Guerra, who functions as a human good-luck charm, Cruz becomes successful, but Guerra tires of living in Cruz's shadow and kills herself. More than a little influenced by Luis Bunuel, the Mexican Realm of Fortune (El Imperio De La Fortuna) won several awards in its country of origin, though it has only fitfully seen the light of day in the US.
Review by Hal Erikson, All Movie Guide
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