Which of these Spanish language films should I watch?
May 16, 2012 8:01 PM   Subscribe

My college's language lab has a bunch of Spanish language movies that I can watch to fulfill my language lab requirement for my Spanish class. But I know very very little about Spanish language film. Which of these movies should I watch? For an added level of difficulty, assume I can only watch five films in a semester.
posted by ocherdraco to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Volver and Pan's Labyrinth. Watch them two and a half times each.
posted by Alison at 8:11 PM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sorry, those are not on the list, but they are good an you should watch them.
posted by Alison at 8:13 PM on May 16, 2012

Response by poster: Alison, neither of those are on the list of movies available which I link to in my post. Also, I've seen them already. :)

(To my knowledge, I haven't seen any of the films on the list.)
posted by ocherdraco at 8:14 PM on May 16, 2012

I really enjoyed "Like Water For Chocolate". I haven't seen any of the others.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:30 PM on May 16, 2012

From my recollection of it--I saw it when it first came out--Belle Epoque is light and enjoyable (and pretty to look at). It features a very young, pre-Hollywood Penelope Cruz.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:36 PM on May 16, 2012

I liked "Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," but I haven't seen any of the others.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:42 PM on May 16, 2012

All the Almodovars are fun and easy viewing.

I liked La Historia Oficial when I saw it years ago -- about Argentina's disappeared during the 1980s military dictatorship, and a very different flavor of Spanish.

El Norte is very good, but very sad.

I haven't seen El Crimen de Padre Amaro - but it got great reviews I think.
posted by pantarei70 at 8:43 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I only know the more recent films by Almodovar but I would suggest watching those ones on your list - they are considered to be very good.
posted by mleigh at 8:50 PM on May 16, 2012

If you like dance or music you're going to love Carlos Saura, because they're pretty much entirely that. Here's the tobacco factory scene from Carmen, as a sample.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:14 PM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Of all the films given on your list, I've seen two:

* La Historia Oficial: this won Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscar, and follows the parents who adopt a child of los desaparecidos during Argentina's Dirty War. Wonderful acting, incomprehensible Spanish, so put the subtitles on in either English or Spanish. (I *love* a good porteño accent—they're just tricky sometimes!) Would definitely recommend.
* El Norte: very very realistic and empathetic portrayal of the Hispanic immigrant experience in the U.S., but watcher beware—there is a claustrophobic scene with rats.

Like others above, I've heard good things about Like Water for Chocolate, Belle Epoque, and Almodóvar's films.

(I'll be keeping this list of films handy to watch them myself this summer!)
posted by huxham at 9:26 PM on May 16, 2012

The Almodovars are fun, but they're Castillian, as you're doubtless aware. Throw in "Like Water For Chocolate" and perhaps one of the Buñuels from his Mexican period?
posted by holgate at 9:31 PM on May 16, 2012

Response by poster: Which are the ones from his Mexican period?
posted by ocherdraco at 9:49 PM on May 16, 2012

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is worth it for the geeky, stuttering, pre-Hollywood Antonio Banderas. And the visuals are delightful.

Fresa y Chocolate is wonderful too- Cuban, so a great add on the accent front.

Thirding "Like Water for Chocolate."

From the language lab aspect, El Norte does provide ample demonstration of the verb chingar. It is grim but it does have moments of levity. If you want to keep things lighter, though, the three above are good bets.
posted by ambrosia at 10:03 PM on May 16, 2012

When I was in Mexico in an immersion class we watched El crimen del Padre Amaro which was an interesting story and I really enjoyed.
posted by birdherder at 10:10 PM on May 16, 2012

Viridiana is the most interesting/easiest to follow of the Bunuel on that list (and it is one of his Mexican films).

Definitely El Crimen de Padre Amaro. (Sorry for lack of diacritics, but I am on the iPad.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:35 PM on May 16, 2012

Cria Cuervos.

Anything by Almodovar.
posted by gertzedek at 10:36 PM on May 16, 2012

Women on the Verge, like water for chocolate, Yo la peor de todos(about Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz), Exterminating angel, El Norte, la colmena, Fresa y chocolate (gay cubans), and el sur
posted by amapolaroja at 11:01 PM on May 16, 2012

The Victor Erice film, El Espiritu de la colmena, is a wonderful film and one of my favorites. I second Almodovar, eso Women on the Verge.
posted by OolooKitty at 11:29 PM on May 16, 2012

sorry -- ESPECIALLY Women on the Verge.
posted by OolooKitty at 11:29 PM on May 16, 2012

You can't really go wrong with Almodovar, but he is modern.
I would go with Bunuel, all of them; Los Olvidados and Exterminating Angel and Simon of the Desert
Also Boda de Sangre a musical directed by Carlos Saura which is an adaption of Lorca's play with great Flamenco.
posted by adamvasco at 11:45 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I second Los Olvidados.

This is pretty recent, but also Y Tu Mama Tambien.
posted by Hawk V at 12:09 AM on May 17, 2012

I think Simon of the Desert is one of the greatest films ever made.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:50 AM on May 17, 2012

Seconding (or whatever) "Women on the Verge...". I watched this movie at about the same point in my life, and it was a gateway to a lot of raucous Almodovar movies. He does odd stories that are full of drama, at once funny and thoughtful and sometimes even moving. It's not a recent movie, for sure, but it captures a certain period of time in Spain, as well.
posted by whatzit at 2:29 AM on May 17, 2012

If you only watch two films, make them Women on the Verge... and El Sur. All out comedy and quiet family drama. El Sur is worth the price of admission just for the shot where the girl grows up from 9 to 15 or so. Beautiful.
posted by kandinski at 3:27 AM on May 17, 2012

Seconding Saura's Carmen. Not a lot of dialog but the suspense and the flamenco will get your heart racing. Afterwards you will feel like smoking a cigarette.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:15 AM on May 17, 2012

Five films in a semester?
May I suggest
(1) Woman on the Verge...
(2) Like Water for Chocolate. I saw it when it came out. Isn't it Mexican? It's long time ago since I saw it. I remember love and magic realism. It was very entertaining.
(3) Saura's Carmen. Bizet's opera transposed to a Spanish flamenco dance school. Great stuff.
(4) Also, as OolooKitty says: :Victor Erice film, El Espiritu de la colmena, is a wonderful film and one of my favorites.". Except I'd write "favourites".
(5) Whichever film by Bunuel has a title that takes your fancy
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:58 AM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Which are the ones from his Mexican period?

Pretty sure it's everything on the list except Tristana, where Catherine Deneuve and Franco Nero's voices are actually dubbed.
posted by holgate at 11:06 AM on May 17, 2012

Nthing "Women on the Verge...". I was lucky enough to see this in my Spanish 4 class in high school--hilarious! You might want to put some titles/directors into IMDB and see what kind of information you get that way also.
posted by epj at 7:34 PM on May 17, 2012

I just watched Nueve Reinas and El Secreto de sus Ojos for the same reason. Both really good. Argentine Spanish though.
posted by Che boludo! at 12:23 PM on May 18, 2012

[Loads of movies I haven't seen/directors I don't know! *pounces on list for future reference*]

Nthing Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown (holy screwball comedy), Exterminating Angel (sly + bizarre), El Espiritu de la Colmena (I will confess to falling asleep the first two times I tried to watch it due to its sloooooow pace, but it is both strangely beautiful and worth it)!

I've seen El Crimen del Padre Amaro a couple of times and generally feel lukewarm about it.

In case it matters to you: Bodas de Sangre is a fantastic dance film, but if I am remembering this correctly, I don't recall too much actual spoken Spanish in it. I remember voiceover and some dialogue near the beginning, but once they get down to the dress rehearsal 15-20 minutes in, it's just music with occasional (?) singing and bodies being amazepants. (But, since it's on the list ...!) Carmen has more dialogue I think, and is just as fab.
posted by phonebia at 11:48 PM on May 23, 2012

Go by directors. Watch at least one by each of them:
Luis Bunuel
Pedro Almodovar
Carlos Saura

My personal favorites are:
Simon of the Desert, Viridiana, Exterminating Angel
Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down
posted by angeldog at 12:41 PM on May 24, 2012

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