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Culture fact
Javier Bardem was the first
Spanish actor to be nominated
for an Oscar. It was for his role
in Before Night Falls (2000).

Culture fact
Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky (2001)
is a remake of the Spanish
film Open Your Eyes (1997).
Penélope Cruz stars in both films
as the character Sofia.


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

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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 4

All About My Mother / Todo sobre mi madre

Drama / Comedy (1999)
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes
Review: After her son is killed in an accident, Manuela (Cecilia Roth) leaves Madrid for her old haunts in Barcelona. She reconnects with an old friend, a pre-op transsexual prostitute named La Agrado (Antonia San Juan), who introduces her to Rosa (Penélope Cruz), a young nun who turns out to be pregnant. Meanwhile, Manuela becomes a personal assistant for Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes), an actress currently playing Blanche DuBois in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire. All About My Mother traces the delicate web of friendship and loss that binds these women together. The movie is dedicated to the actresses of the world, so it's not surprising that all the performances are superb. Roth in particular anchors All About My Mother with compassion and generosity. But fans of writer-director Pedro Almodóvar needn't fret--as always, Almodóvar's work undermines conventional notions of sexual identity and embraces all human possibilities with bright colors and melodramatic plotting. However, All About My Mother approaches its twists and turns with a broader emotional scope than most of Almodóvar's work; even the more extravagant aspects of the story are presented quietly, to allow the sadness of life to be as present as the irrepressible vitality of the characters. Almodóvar embraces pettiness, jealousy, and grief as much as kindness, courage, and outrageousness, and the movie is the richer for it.
Review by Bret Fetzer
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Butterfly / La lengua de las mariposas

Drama (1999)
Director: José Luis Cuerda
Starring: Fernando Fernán Gómez, Manuel Lozano
From the back cover: Acclaimed by critics and featuring legendary star Fernando Fernan Gomez (All About My Mother), Butterfly is a heartwarming tale about a young boy growing up in a small Spanish town. Moncho is timid and fearful as he starts school for the first time. But with the nuturing guidance of his kind and devoted teacher, Don Gregorio (Fernán Gómez), a world of possibilities begins to open up for young Moncho. As the school year comes to a close, however, civil war begins sweeping across the country, forcing the boy's family and community to choose between the fight for freedom and the threat of persecution! An amazing story of family and friendship during a time of extreme conflict--you're sure to enjoy this magical motion picture.
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Herod's Law / La ley de Herodes

Comedy / Crime (1999)
Director: Luis Estrada
Starring: Damián Alcázar, Pedro Armendáriz Jr.
Review: Luis Estrada directs this groundbreaking and extremely controversial satire about Mexico's long-ruling political party, the PRI. Set in the late 1940s in the remote, thoroughly backwards village of San Pedro de los Saguaros, the film focuses on Vargas (Damian Alcazar), a petty politician who had the dubious honor of being appointed town mayor after his predecessor was decapitated for corruption by an angry mob. At first, he tries to balance the books and to bring the 20th century to the backwaters. When he is visited by slick PRI politico Lopez (Pedro Armendariz), however, he learns the officially sanctioned way of running the town: at gunpoint while pilfering the bank vaults. Soon Vargas becomes a power-mad despot, more than willing to steal or kill to further his goals. Though his PRI bosses try to reign him in, the lynch mob soon appears to be the inevitable end of Vargas' political career. The first film to criticize the PRI by name, Estrada's bitter farce savages the ruling party, the church and U.S. intervention. Cult director Alex Cox plays a small role as a seedy gringo.
Review by Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide
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Sex, Shame & Tears / Sexo, pudor y lágrimas

Comedy / Drama (1999)
Director: Antonio Serrano
Starring: Demián Bichir, Mónica Dionne
Synopsis: The romantic foibles of two young couples in Mexico -- whose professional success has not led to personal satisfaction -- forms the basis of this comedy with serious undertones. Carlos (Victor Hugo Martin) is a student of new age spirituality, while his wife Ana (Susana Zabaleta) is a good bit more interested in the pleasures of the flesh, leading to no small amount of conflict. Tensions increase when Tomas (Demián Bichir), an old friend of the couple and Ana's former lover, comes to pay an extended visit. Elsewhere in the neighborhood, Andrea (Cecilia Suarez) is angry with her husband Miguel (Jorge Salinas), who doesn't appear to put much stock in monogamy, and she's even more annoyed when he announces that his former girlfriend Maria (Monica Dionne), who has just left her husband, will be their house guest for a while. After a great deal of arguing and soul searching, a temporary agreement is reached between the two couples and their friends -- the men will stay in one apartment while the women will stay in another until cooler heads prevail. Sexo, Pudor Y Lagrimas/Sex, Shame and Tears was written and directed by Antonio Serrano, who adapted his own successful stage play.
Review by Mark Deming, All Movie Guide
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Gimme the Power / Todo el poder

Comedy / Drama (1999)
Director: Fernando Sariñana
Starring: Demián Bichir, Cecilia Suárez
Synopsis: Directed by Fernando Sariñana, Todo el poder centers around the politics and corruption that shroud the Mexican police system. Featuring Demián Bichir as Gabriel, a filmmaker whose career has left him assaulted and robbed in broad daylight more times than he cares to remember, the film itself was inspired by Sariñana's personal experience with urban crime oftentimes perpetrated by the police themselves.
Review by Tracie Cooper, All Movie Guide
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The Grandfather / El abuelo

Drama (1998)
Director: José Luis Garci
Starring: Fernando Fernán Gómez, Rafael Alonso
Description: Nominated for an Academy Award(R) as Best Foreign Language Film, The Grandfather is a deeply compelling tale of love, honor, and secrecy. When news of his son's death returns proud, old Count Albrit home to Spain after years abroad, he's pleased to meet his two charming young granddaughters. But he also carries the burden of a newly discovered family secret: one of the girls is not his son's daughter ... and therefore not his true heir! Starring original cast members from the Oscar(R)-winning Spanish film sensation All About My Mother -- you'll be inescapably drawn into this powerful story as the determined Count sets out to discover which grannddaughter is worthy of his love and name!
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Tango / Tango, no me dejes nunca

Drama / Musical (1998)
Spain / Argentina
Director: Carlos Saura
Starring: Miguel Ángel Solá, Cecilia Narova
From the back cover: Flamboyant. Colorful. Sensual. This is the seductive world of the Tango, stunningly brought to life by acclaimed director Carlos Saura (Flamenco), Grammy-winning composer Lalo Schifrin (TV's "Mission: Impossible") and Oscar-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. Set against the backdrop of a director's passionate love affair with his art and the beautiful young woman who captures his heart, Tango is "a mesmerizing experience, a smoky lush blend of muted light and color, of intoxicating dance and the richest tango music you could ever imagine." (Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times).
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Open Your Eyes / Abre los ojos

Drama / Romance (1997)
Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Starring: Eduardo Noriega (II), Penélope Cruz
Review: Imagine if an actor's director like Eric Rohmer--whose films consist almost entirely of conversation between pairs or small groups of people--made a film that incorporated elements from movies like Dark City, eXistenZ, The Thirteenth Floor, The Truman Show, and Total Recall. The result might resemble Alejandro Amenabar's remarkable second feature, Open Your Eyes, which favors ideas over effects and offers twist upon twist with mind-warping agility. This film rewards multiple viewings, pushing the viewer toward one perception of reality, then switching to another until reality itself is called into question. Melodrama, love story, and psychological thriller combine with a dash of science fiction, forming a plot that is both disorienting and deceptively precise.
Set in Madrid, the story defies description, but this much can be revealed: young, handsome Cesar (Eduardo Noriega) is vain, rich, charming, and--following a botched suicide-murder scheme by a jilted lover--horribly disfigured. He'd fallen in love with Sofia (Penélope Cruz) but is now an embittered husk of his former self, stuck in a "psychiatric penitentiary" on a murder charge and hiding behind an expressionless mask. His reality has crumbled, but as the film's agenda is gradually revealed, we realize that there are other factors in play. Exposing that agenda would be a criminal offense against those who haven't seen the film; suffice it to say that Open Your Eyes takes you into the twilight zone and beyond, and does so cleverly enough to prompt Tom Cruise to produce and star in an English-language remake, Vanilla Sky. The 2001 remake, directed by Cameron Crowe, costars Cameron Diaz and Penélope Cruz, who reprises her original role.
Review by Jeff Shannon
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Live Flesh / Carne trémula

Drama / Romance (1997)
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Javier Bardem, Francesca Neri
Review: The second film in the "mature phase" of Pedro Almodovar's career, which began with La Flor de Mi Secreto two years earlier, Carne Tremula borrows chunks of its ornate plot from Ruth Rendell's novel Live Flesh. The film's political subtext and messy humanity, however, bear the distinctive stamp of its celebrated director. A deeply felt exploration of the tension between destiny and chance, human will and involuntary longing, Carne Tremula plays a delicate juggling act with competing subplots that slowly reveal their intimate connections. Unlike Paul Thomas Anderson's similarly themed but deeply flawed Magnolia, Almodovar's film zeroes in on its ideas subtly and precisely. The closest the director gets to his well-known affinity for garish excess and picturesque debilities is a few minutes of the haunted, haunting Francesca Neri in a fright wig, and several straight-faced scenes of stand-up guy Javier Bardem playing wheelchair basketball. Elsewhere, it's all tightly coiled passion and darkly libidinous will-to-power -- an urgent directive to get on with life. American audiences might not grasp all the levels of Almodovar's allegory about the legacy of Franco's reign, but most everyone should recognize the contrary passions that propel his characters to desperate acts and unlikely redemptions. Flawlessly acted by Bardem, Neri, Liberto Rabal, and Angela Molina, Carne Tremula offers a darker counterpoint to the tragicomic shadings of 1999's Todo Sobre Mi Madre.
Review by Brian J. Dillard, All Movie Guide
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Who the Hell is Juliette? / ¿Quién diablos es Juliette?

Documentary (1997)
Director: Carlos Marcovich
Starring: Yuliet Ortega, Fabiola Quiroz
Review: Yuliet Ortega is a 16-year-old Cubana who lives in a rough, rundown neighborhood in Havana; Fabiola Quiroz is a successful Mexican model who divides her time between music videos in Latin America and fashion shoots in New York City. They have three things in common: startling green eyes, an obsession with their absent fathers, and the passionate interest of filmmaker Carlos Marcovich, who has intertwined their stories into a lively, evocative mix of fact and fiction titled Who the Hell Is Juliette?
Marcovich plays Ortega's great, bursting energy and barking laugh against Quiroz's introspection and melancholy. If he's making a point about differences in national characters, it's nicely undersold and flows without a trace of editorializing. Their difference is like that of the mountains and the sea, of stony self-sufficiency and bubbling openness.
Both women have significant ties to North America. Quiroz's mother traces her daughter's green eyes to her long-vanished father, a Canadian archeologist on a dig in Michoacan. Ortega's father, who abandoned his family during the Mariela boatlift, turns out to be an electrician living in New Jersey. This is a fine example of what happens when a filmmaker follows the logic of a subject that intrigues him rather than conforms to a preset script. Who the Hell Is Juliet? seems to be discovering itself as it goes along, just like its two appealing heroines.
Review by Dave Kehr
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