Movies in Spanish
May 28, 2009 4:02 PM   Subscribe

What are some good movies that are entirely or mostly in Spanish?

I'm going to South America this summer and I want to brush up on my Spanish before I go. I've found on previous trips to Spanish-speaking countries that it takes me a few days of immersion to get back to the point where I can think and speak fluently. I'd like to hasten that process by watching a Spanish movie marathon in the days leading up to the trip.

I'd like to watch enjoyable movies while I'm at it. I plan on watching Motorcycle Diaries, El Mariachi, Pan's Labyrinth, and The Take (a documentary about Argentinian factory workers taking over their factory).

What movies have you watched and enjoyed that also happen to be in Spanish? I don't care whether or not there are subtitles. I suppose you could even recommend a TV show on Telemundo or Univision if there are any that are legitimately interesting.

P.S. I refuse to watch Destinos
posted by swellingitchingbrain to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
All of Almodovar's films, especially Talk to Her, Live Flesh and All About my Mother.
posted by fire&wings at 4:10 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Abres Los Ojos is one of my favorite movies. You may know the remake as "Vanilla Sky". The original is much better IMO.
posted by zerokey at 4:10 PM on May 28, 2009

Abre. Now with more "s".
posted by zerokey at 4:11 PM on May 28, 2009

Y Tu Mama Tambien
posted by dfriedman at 4:12 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

posted by Alison at 4:12 PM on May 28, 2009

The Orphanage (El orfanato) is a fantastic movie, produced by Guillermo del Toro. It's pretty scary, though.
posted by Ms. Saint at 4:12 PM on May 28, 2009

Three Bunuel films from his time in Mexico: Los Olvidados, El, and my favorite, Ensayo de un Crimen

Two with Gael Garica Bernal: Y Tu Mama Tambien, El Crimen del Padre Amaro

Awesome Argentinian heist film: Nueve Reinas
posted by hamsterdam at 4:16 PM on May 28, 2009

Man Facing Southeast.
posted by neuron at 4:17 PM on May 28, 2009

Ms. Saint, I think you may mean El Espinazo del diablo (The Devil's Backbone - amazing movie).
posted by zerokey at 4:18 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Not sure how readily available it is since I don't think it's out on dvd yet, but Sin Nombre was easily one of the best movies I've seen this year so far.
posted by dogwalker at 4:18 PM on May 28, 2009

The first full-length film by Amenabar, the director of The Others is called Tesis (Thesis) and is about a young film student who researches snuff films. It's a great suspense / thriller. His latest film, Mar adentro (The Sea Inside), is gorgeous. It's about a quadriplegic and his relationships with friends and family as he decides to end his life. Speaking of South America, I like Pantaleon y las visitadoras about a young army officer and his orders to provide prostitutes to troops stationed at the Colombian / Peruvian / Brazilian Amazonian border. Funny and based on a famous book by Vargas Llosa. Hamsterdam mentioned Bunuel who is kind of the artsy Hitchcock of Spain and I second all of those suggestions. There's also Amores Perros with Gael Garcia Bernal, which is a bit intense but great nonetheless.

An interesting short, 7:35 de la manana is only 8 minutes long and is like a dark musical. Fun, quick, and easy.

I'll stop there, but I could go on and on! Ok, one more: Lucia y el sexo, a sexy and strange film about an odd relationship.

Oh, and if you can find it, try Mensaka, a sort of Spanish Trainspotting.
posted by cachondeo45 at 4:28 PM on May 28, 2009

No, I mean El Orfanato.
posted by Ms. Saint at 4:29 PM on May 28, 2009

El Norte is a great. It's hard to find, though.
posted by HotPatatta at 4:30 PM on May 28, 2009

Intacto is one of my all time favorites. Surreal and beautiful. Max von Sydow speaks English, but is part his fairly short.
posted by rtimmel at 4:37 PM on May 28, 2009

'Like Water For Chocolate' for sure.

(although the title is awkward and ridiculous in English).

fantastic film, though.
posted by candyhammer at 4:41 PM on May 28, 2009

La Ardilla Roja and a second vote for Amores Perros.
posted by roofus at 4:42 PM on May 28, 2009

Seconding (nthing) both El Orfanato and El Espinazo del diablo, as well as Volver (though I haven't gotten round to that one yet). But if you're going to watch Devil's Backbone, you should definitely also watch El Laberinto del Fauno, which is a spiritual followup (and a stunningly fantastic movie, and film of that year for my money. And Dr. Kermode).
posted by opsin at 4:43 PM on May 28, 2009

Del Toro's spanish films are great, and I'll add Chronos to the list, though it's been a while since I've seen it.

If you've got the teeth for romantic comedy, you might like Belle Epoche.
posted by lekvar at 4:52 PM on May 28, 2009

Speaking of teeth, you might also check out ¡Vampiros en La Habana! for a goofy treat.
posted by lekvar at 4:55 PM on May 28, 2009

Lots of excellent suggestions already. I'll add John Sayles's Hombres armados.

I recall that the Futurama DVDs included a Spanish audio channel. Maybe other TV show DVDs would also have something like that (particularly animated shows, I would think).
posted by Emanuel at 4:56 PM on May 28, 2009

It's been probably six or seven years since I last watched it, but I remember enjoying Sexo, Pudor, y Lagrimas. It's pretty dialog intensive and set in modern times, so I think it would do quite well in helping you re-immerse.
posted by Ufez Jones at 4:57 PM on May 28, 2009

I ran across Juana la Loca while channel-surfing on satellite very early one morning. It's a lush historic drama about a Castilian queen who allegedly was driven mad by a combination of brutal castle politics and her husband's flagrant infidelity. It might be obscure enough not be available a local video stores but Netflix and Amazon both appear to have it. The version I saw had sub-titles but on DVD you can probably turn them off.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:04 PM on May 28, 2009

Nthing Volver.
posted by whiskeyspider at 5:09 PM on May 28, 2009

I highly recommend El Topo (torrent).

You can also search for "spanish" in the movie categories on various torrent sites (here's the search for mininova, optimized for high seeds) and find lots.
posted by glider at 5:18 PM on May 28, 2009

Sorry, I was being dense and missed that you had already listed Pan's Labyrinth (was looking for it in Spanish here), but as I say, being spiritual successor to Devil's Backbone, it's recommended to watch them in order, although I admit I didn't manage that (was looking forward to Pan's Labyrinth too much, and the copy of Devil's Backbone it was possible to get here is a disappointing transfer.)
posted by opsin at 5:18 PM on May 28, 2009

Memorias del subdesarrollo (Memories of Underdevelopment) from 1968 is a critically acclaimed movie directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea about a writer who stayed in Cuba after the revolution.
posted by rw at 5:36 PM on May 28, 2009

posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 5:40 PM on May 28, 2009

¡Átame!, with a young, somewhat nerdy (but still hot) Antonio Banderas.
posted by Addlepated at 5:41 PM on May 28, 2009

El espíritu de la colmena
posted by run"monty at 6:28 PM on May 28, 2009

Oh yeah, and if you want a raunchy, incestuous "comedy" with Javier Bardem in all his (naked) glory, try Jamon Jamon.
posted by cachondeo45 at 6:36 PM on May 28, 2009

just FYI, Amenábar, Almodovar, and most of the actors in their films are Spanish, and while I love many of the films listed above they'd be exposing you to an accent (and slang) very different from what you'll hear anywhere in South America.

Here's some films I've enjoyed, sorted by the accent of the main character(s):

Perú: Pantaleón y las visitadoras, listed above
Colombia: María llena de gracia - heartbreaking story of a drug mule
Argentina: 2nding Nueve reinas - smart, fast-moving heist film
Buena Vida Delivery -- dark comedy
Uruguay: XXY - not, IMO, a great film but an interesting one about a transgender teenager, and one of very few films I know of taking place in Uruguay
Venezuela: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: an Irish-made documentary that inadvertently captured an unsuccessful coup attempt against Hugo Chavez as it happened
posted by dr. boludo at 7:19 PM on May 28, 2009

Pan's Labyrinth
posted by Xany at 8:31 PM on May 28, 2009

Oops, that's already on the list. Damn my trigger finger! (It's a really really good movie, I highly recommend it.)
posted by Xany at 8:32 PM on May 28, 2009

Los Cronocrímenes (2007)

Sangre de Mi Sangre (2007)

If you like Walter Salles' The Motorcycle Diaries you should also see Central do Brasil (1998) and Abril Despedaçado (2001).
posted by plokent at 8:53 PM on May 28, 2009

Another good Javier Bardem movie is Mar Adentro (Sea Inside). It was my first introduction to him as an actor and I was just blown away.

If you're looking for some comedy, check out the catalogue of Cantinflas. While it's not South American dialect, it's great for a laugh and to refresh yourself on the basics.

Also, try watching a couple seasons of El Chavo Del Ocho. Again, it's slapstick comedy, but you'll get a lot of good info re: slang and such.
posted by arishaun at 12:17 AM on May 29, 2009

Oh man, I love Pedro Almodovar's "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown." It is hilariously weird.
posted by that girl at 6:06 AM on May 29, 2009

My friend Alicia Scherson's Play.
posted by signal at 6:18 PM on May 29, 2009

Late to this thread, but must reinforce what was said upthread, continental Spanish is very different from colonial Spanish. Hell, Spanish in Argentina sounds very different from Venezuelan Spanish. Forget about the Caribbean, totally different story.
I came here to mention my very favorite Colombian film of all time La virgen de los sicarios.
posted by msali at 4:37 PM on June 3, 2009

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