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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 3

Kilometer Zero / Km.0

Drama / Comedy (2000)
Directors: Yolanda García Serrano, Juan Luis Iborra
Starring: Concha Velasco, Georges Corraface
Synopsis: Located in Madrid's Plaza del Sol, Km. 0 is the point from which all distances in Spain are measured from the capital. In Km. 0, it is also the meeting point for a gallery of characters. Bored, affluent housewife Marga (Concha Velasco) meets up with gigolo Miguel (Jesus Cabrero), who co-habitates with gay Benjamin (Miquel Garcia). Sergio, a soon-to-be-married office clerk who can't wait to lose his virginity, makes the acquaintance of prostitute Tatiana (Elisa Matilla), while gay dancer Bruno (Victor Ullate Jr.) meets Maximo (Armando delRio). Meanwhile, wannabe director Pedro (Carlos Fuentes) arranges to meet up with Silvia (Merce Pons), an actress who wants to work in musicals directed by Gerardo (George Corraface), and bartender Mario (Tristan Ulloa) is caught between Amor (Silke), who wants to marry him, and her little sister Roma (Cora Tiedra), who is truly in love with him.
By Rebecca Flint, All Movie Guide

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Comedy (2000)
Director: Lucho Bender
Starring: Luis Machín, Gastón Pauls
Description: On a hot and muggy Christmas Eve in Buenos Aires, everyone is hectically preparing for the holidays. In a series of wry coincidences, an overworked stand-up comic, a successful writer, a young father and a handsome doctor cross paths as they try to make it through a night of most peculiar circumstances. In his feature film debut, Bender carefully balances a fast-paced story with sensitive character portraits, revealing a style and sensibility that evoke Robert Altman’s genius for interweaving plot lines and characters and Jim Jarmusch’s depiction of surviving alienation and disillusionment. Argentinean stars Gastón Pauls (Nine Queens) and Silke (Km. 0) head a talented ensemble cast, creating a Christmas classic with a Latin flair.
Review by Ali Davis

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Love's a Bitch / Amores perros

Thriller / Drama (2000)
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Emilio Echevarría, Gael García Bernal
Review: Amores Perros roughly translates to "Love's a bitch," and it's an apt summation of this remarkable film's exploration of passion, loss, and the fragility of our lives. In telling three stories connected by one traumatic incident, Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu uses an intricate screenplay by novelist Guillermo Arriaga to make three movies in close orbit, expressing the notion that we are defined by what we lose--from our loves to our family, our innocence, or even our lives. These interwoven tales--about a young man in love with his brother's pregnant wife, a perfume spokeswoman and her married lover, and a scruffy vagrant who sidelines as a paid killer--are united by a devastating car crash that provides the film's narrative nexus, and by the many dogs that the characters own or care for. There is graphic violence, prompting a disclaimer that controversial dog-fight scenes were harmless and carefully supervised, but what emerges from Amores Perros is a uniquely conceptual portrait of people whom we come to know through their relationship with dogs. The film is simultaneously bleak, cynical, insightful, and compassionate, with layers of meaning that are sure to reward multiple viewings.
Review by Jeff Shannon
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Our Lady of the Assassins / La virgen de los sicarios

Drama (2000)
Spain / Columbia
Director: Barbet Schroeder
Starring: Germán Jaramillo, Anderson Ballesteros
Review: [...] After a string of lackluster Hollywood films, director Barbet Schroeder returns to form with this layered, visually arresting Spanish-language feature in which the voice of reason and moral accountability is an atheistic, middle-aged writer with a taste for wiry, beautiful young boys and a chasm of regret a mile wide running through his soul. Colombian stage actor German Jaramillo brings an air of tragic aestheticism and knowing contradiction to the difficult role of expatriate writer Fernando Vallejo; his transformation from self-pitying observer to thoughtful, yet active participant in his homeland's struggles parallels the audience's journey from titillation to emotional investment and, ultimately, spiritual devastation. The irony and ambiguity of La Virgen de los Sicarios, however, permeates far more than just its indelible central character. This is a film that forces us to indulge in our taste for humorous, cartoon violence, then chokes the laughs before they've left our throats. It also forces us to examine our complicity in the enjoyment of cheap beauty, turning its romantic themes into a meditation on the intersection of sex and money. Anderson Ballesteros and Juan David Restrepo, playing parts very close to their actual lives on the streets of Medellín, bring a primal mixture of beauty, affection, and savagery to their roles as Vallejo's young hustler friends; the apparent ease with which their characters navigate a world of casual drive-bys and constant death suggests that the term "amorality" loses its meaning when one is raised in a world where human life has no value. The film's true star, however, is Medellín itself -- a city whose shocking beauty, sickening squalor, and frequent sacrilege are captured in crisp digital video and accented by Schroeder's hallucinatory dream sequences. Like Before Night Falls -- another film whose gay themes are secondary to its political and humanistic concerns -- La Virgen de los Sicarios uses the figure of an outsider artist to map out the darkest corners of our global society in all its beauty and tragic desolation.
Review by Brian J. Dillard, All Movie Guide
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Dust to Dust / Por la libre

Comedy (2000)
Director: Juan Carlos de Llaca
Starring: Osvaldo Benavides, Rodrigo Cachero
Review: During a family dinner in honor of his birthday, patriarch Rodrigo Carnicero (Xavier Masse) drops dead of a heart attack. Among the witnesses are his devoted daughter Pureza (Pilar Ixquic Mata) and his beloved grandchildren Rocco (Osvaldo Benavides) and Rodrigo (Rodrigo Cachero). Rocco and Rodrigo are cousins, though completely different; while Rocco is laid-back and hippie-ish, Rodrigo is dour and conservative. One thing Rocco and Rodrigo have in common, however, is their loyalty to their departed grandfather, with whom they enjoyed a closer relationship than with either of their self-absorbed fathers. After Don Rodrigo's death, Rocco and Rodrigo take off in the vintage car left to Rodrigo by his grandfather to dispose of the don's ashes in the manner requested in his will. When they arrive at the beach where their grandfather is to be scattered, Rocco and Rodrigo lodge at a hotel run by Perla (Gina Morett) and her daughter Maria (Ana de la Reguera). Chaos soon results when the urn is lost, Rocco hooks up with Maria for his initiation into sex, and the cousins discover that Perla once enjoyed intimate relations with their beloved grandfather.
Review by Rebecca Flint, All Movie Guide
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Common Wealth / La Comunidad

Comedy / Thriller (2000)
Director: Álex de la Iglesia
Starring: Carmen Maura, Eduardo Antuña
Review: With the influence of the master of suspense engrained in every frame of the film right down to the stunning opening credit sequence, flamboyant Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia (Day of the Beast, Purdita Durango) weaves a hilariously dark tale of murderous greed set among the quirky and menacing inhabitants of a tightly knitted apartment complex in La Comunidad. After discovering the 15-million-dollar booty of a recently deceased tenant, middle-aged property saleswoman Julia (Carmen Maura) thinks that she may have found the answers to her dreams of finding something more in life. Little does she know that the oddly menacing residents of the building know well of the elusive treasure, and have been scheming for years and building their dreams around aquiring the formerly well-guarded winnings. As the greedy obsessions of all in question spiral unhinged into a frenzy of desperation, Jorge Guerricaechevarria's clever and snappy screenplay keeps the viewer constantly on their toes, right up to the hilariously white-knuckled finale atop one of Madrid's most notable landmarks. Equally effective is Roque Banos' giddily dizzying score, taking a cue from Bernard Herrmann while adding a spice of such contemporary influences as Danny Elfman. Kiki de la Rico's murky lens lends the perfect creepy atmosphere to the creaky old building, becoming increasingly frantic as greed trickles from the drip of suspicion into a tidal wave of compulsive madness. Nominated for 15 Goyas and taking home three, the film won Best Special Effects and Best Supporting Actor (Emilio Gutuierrez Caba), while Maura's visually unsettling transformation from carefree working woman to a desperate money-hording beast earned her a win for Best Lead Actress.
Review byJason Buchanan, All Movie Guide
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Burnt Money / Plata quemada

Action / Drama (2000)
Spain / Argentina / Uruguay
Director: Marcelo Piñeyro
Starring: Eduardo Noriega, Leonardo Sbaraglia
Review: Love and betrayal complicate a robbery gone wrong in this offbeat crime thriller shot in Argentina. Angel (Eduardo Noriega) and El Nene (Leonardo Sbaraglia) are a pair of small-time criminals hired to take part in the robbery of an armored truck organized by mobsters Nando (Carlos Roffe) and Fontana (Ricardo Bartis), who working in cahoots with the driver, El Cuervo (Pablo Echarri). Angel and El Nene are also lovers, and when the robbery goes sour and Angel is shot by the police, El Nene is enraged and opens fire on the officers, turning the heist into a bloodbath. Angel and El Nene somehow escape and go into hiding, with El Nene attempting to nurse Angel back to health. As the couple tries to avoid detection in Uruguay, El Cuervo's moll, Vivi (Dolores Fonzi), tells the police of their whereabouts under threat of torture. Meanwhile, beginning to crack under cabin fever, Angel and El Nene slip into town to visit a carnival, where El Nene's head is unexpectedly turned by Giselle (Leticia Bredice), sparking murderous jealousy in Angel. Plata Quemada was adapted from a novel by Ricardo Piglia, which was inspired by a true story.
Review by Mark Deming, All Movie Guide
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Calle 54

Documentary (2000)
Director: Fernando Trueba
Starring: Michel Camilo, Tito Puente
Review: In Calle 54, Madrid-based filmmaker Fernando Trueba explores the wide and wonderful world of Latin jazz: a hybrid genre that fuses the clave, samba, flamenco, merengue, and other rhythms from Africa, the Iberian peninsula, and the Americas. The film's Spanish title takes its name from Sony Music Studios located on 54th Street in Manhattan, where a who's who of musicians were filmed and recorded. They range from Brazilian bombshell keyboardist Eliane Elias and enigmatic Argentine tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri, to the fiery rumba group Puntilla y Nueva Generacion. The music and musicians of Cuba and Puerto Rico dominate this documentary, and the most touching scene is the emotional father-and-son reunion of Cuban pianists Bebo and Chucho Valdés, who were separated by Fidel Castro's revolution. Sadly, the film features the last onscreen appearances by the late composer-arranger Chico O'Farrill and the legendary timbales master Tito Puente. Simply put, Calle 54 is a documentary that dances.
Review by Eugene Holley, Jr.
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Nine Queens / Nueve reinas

Crime / Drama (2000)
Director: Fabián Bielinsky
Starring: Gastón Pauls, Ricardo Darín
Review: Nine Queens joins a line of sly thrillers about master-pupil con artists and games within games within games that includes The Sting, House of Games, and Heist. In the first five minutes, we watch an overt scam--a young Argentinian named Juan (Gastón Pauls) running the two-10s-for-a-5 hornswoggle on a convenience store clerk--then find that we have been tricked along with the bystanders as another brand of deception kicks in. And so it goes as Juan, with both trepidation and excitement, drifts into partnership for a day with an older, more cosmopolitan conman, Marcos (Ricardo Darín). Knocking around Buenos Aires--from gritty downtown to cozy neighborhood side streets to a swank hotel where wealth murmurs behind every door--these damnably resourceful scoundrels try not to miss a bet, including an epic swindle involving the titular "Nine Queens," a set of ultrarare stamps. Writer-director Fabián Bielinsky keeps a taut rein on everything, including his own cleverness. The end result is an entertainment as bracingly disciplined as it is ingenious.
Review by Richard T. Jameson
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Without a Trace / Sin dejar huella

Drama (2000)
Spain / Mexico
Director: María Novaro
Starring: Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Tiaré Scanda, Jesús Ochoa
Review: It's easy to use the shorthand "a Mexican Thelma and Louise" to describe Without a Trace, since it's a humorous and dramatic women's road movie, but there is more to Novaro's film than breezy comparisons. Outwitting their laughable, villainous spurned lovers/nemeses, two unlikely traveling companions -- an art smuggler and a new mother/accidental drug dealer -- bond over their mutual desire to hit the road. Though neither one can actually be trusted, a friendship develops between the pair, yet it isn't exactly built on honesty (each has her own self-interested, wily plans). Set to a tragic norteño music soundtrack, the women's nonstop and surprising run-ins with their pursuers are told in the melodramatic tradition of Mexican songs. Hightailing it across their country's backroads, from the northern border to the breathtaking Yucatan, are the film's beautiful stars Aitana Sánchez-Gijón and Tiaré Scanda.
Review by Denise Sullivan, All Movie Guide

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