Cine - Movies

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Films, Movies, Cine - Spanish Language or just about Spanish speakers (hispanohablantes).
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El rey de la montaña (King of the Hill)

Title: El rey de la montaña (King of the Hill)
Released: 2007
Director:: Gonzalo López-Gallego

Plot Summary

This Spanish thriller is the story of mysterious Bea who meets the likable Quim by chance in a gas station. Both end up stranded in a remote forest and rely on each other for survival when they are targeted by an unknown sniper.

This film will keep your attention from beginning to end, leaving you wondering what's going to happen and how and if Bea and Quim will get away.

Language Learning Notes

The dialogue is relatively sporadic and this movie isn't the best to practice your Spanish. However, it provides a chance to listen to a Spanish accent and see the Spanish countryside.

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10 Favorite Spanish-Language Films

10 Great Spanish-language Films

Below are ten of my favorite Spanish-language films from all over the Spanish-speaking world and a link to their description. Directors include some of the greats, like Guillermo del Toro, Pedro Almoldóvar, and Álex de la Iglesia. Several films take place during an important historic time frame (like Pan's Labyrinth during the Spanish Civil War) or provide a modern critique on their society (9 Reinas, Amores Perros, Maria Full of Grace). Several are slightly scandalous (Y tu mamá también), but all provide entertainment and an interesting insight into the time period and culture in which they were made.

  1. 9 Reinas
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Spanish film featuring Javier Bardem: Los lunes al sol

Title: Los lunes al sol (Mondays in the Sun)
Released: 2002
Director:: Fernando León de Aranoa

Plot Summary

This 2002 Spanish film is the story of 6 shipyard workers in an industrial town in northern Spain after they've lost their jobs. Each man deals with his new reality differently, some trying to reinvent themselves while others just try to get by. Santos (Javier Bardem) proves to be a bit of an agitator while also dreaming of the perfect life he could have in Australia.

While certainly a great idea and good cast, to me the film was slow and slightly monotonous.

Language Learning Notes

The dialogue in the film is quintessentially Spanish, and in addition to some of the fun Spainisms like coño, joder, y hostia, there were some fun new words for me: like astillero (shipyard) and gilipollas (jerk, idiot).

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2009 Starz Film Festival Latin American Films

Latin American Films in Denver

Below are several films included in this year's 2009 Starz Film Festival schedule.

My Land (USA, 2009) – Great job by Jason Burlage, who follows a young, indigenous Peruvian farmer, in the most amazingly beautiful setting you can imagine: The Sacred Valley of Cusco, the capital of the Incas. Jason will be on Monday, November 16, 9:15pm and Thursday, November 19, 6:30 pm

Black Box (Mexico, 2009) – In this psychological thriller, a secret organization plots to kill a political candidate – using a dying man as its unwilling assassin. Black Box introduces us to the conspirators via complex, fast-paced animation – but slows midway to a methodical cat-and-mouse game played by captor and captive in alternating roles. Friday, November 13, 7:00 PM, Saturday, November 14, 9:15 PM

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Crimen Ferpecto (The Perfect Crime)

Title: Crimen Ferpecto (The Perfect Crime)
Released: 2004
Director:: Álex de la Iglesia

Plot Summary

This hilarious Spanish film is the story of Rafael, a womanizing super-salesman for a Spanish department store. When a floor manager position comes up, Rafael seems the most likely candidate. He is beaten on a technicality by long-term rival Don Antonio, who mysteriously disappears and Rafael becomes the main suspect.

Crimen Ferpecto is a fast-paced crime comedy, and is truly a pleasure to watch.

Language Learning Notes

This is a great film for Spanish-learners. The narrative in the voice of Rafael is extremely clear and easy to understand, and the form of speaking throughout the movie is relatively clear.

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El Norte: the ultimate immigrant story

Title: El Norte
Released: 1983
Director:: Gregory Nava

Plot Summary

There's a reason your teacher made you watch El Norte in your high school Spanish class: it's a good movie with a thoughtful message. The movie opens in a small village in Guatemala in the early 80s, a time of government oppression, disappearances and torture which started a civil war that wasn't resolved until the early 90s.

After a massacre in their village, siblings Rosa and Enrique decided to flee to the US, el norte, a place they imagine to be as incredible as tv programs and the stories they've heard growing up portray. Their trip is dangerous, and their new life in America isn't quite as they imagined.

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Pizza, birra, y faso: A very Argentine Film

Title: Pizza, birra, y faso (Pizza, Beer and Smokes)
Released: 1998
Director:: Adrián Caetano and Bruno Stagnaro

Plot Summary

Low-budget Argentine film Pizza, birra, y faso reminded me of Spanish film Tapas, in that it can most be appreciated by those who have spent a significant amount of time in Argentina (or Spain in the case of Tapas) or who are Argentines (or Spaniards) themselves. Even the movie's name pegs it as Argentine, using regional slang birra y faso rather than the more broadly used cerveza and cigarillos.

For those of you who have spent a lot of time in Argentina, you'll appreciate the street scenes, heavy use of local slang, and bringing in elements of everyday routine, like riding buses and taxis in Buenos Aires. The film provides an element of reality and daily life that recent mainstream Argentine films like Nueve Reinas lack.

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¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto? An Almodóvar oldie but goodie

Title: ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto? (What have I done to Deserve This?)
Released: 1984
Director:: Pedro Almodóvar

Plot Summary

This older Almodóvar film is about a struggling dysfunctional family in Madrid. Every character is quirky: the mother Gloria with a slight over-the-counter pill addiction, her terrible husband with a love of fascist Germany, their two troubled kids and a kooky grandma who lives with her family but locks up her food.

Just when you think every character is a complete disaster, there are moments of hope, like the drug dealing son's sweet relationship with his grandma and her plan for a better life moving back to the village where she was born and the kindhearted neighbor prostitute Cristal's dreams of stardom in Las Vegas. Despite some of the darker themes carried in the film, it maintains a lighthearted and almost comedic tone.

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An Almodóvar Classic with Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem: Live Flesh (Carne trémula)

Title: Carne trémula (Live Flesh)
Released: 1997
Director:: Pedro Almodóvar

Plot Summary

Carne trémula is a film about love, revenge, forgiveness, and the human capacity to change and reinvent. Certainly more racy than other films like La flor de mi secreto and Volver, the film starts in Civil War Spain with prostitute Isabel (Penelope Cruz) giving birth to her only son Victor in a bus on the way to the hospital.

The story fast forwards to Victor in his twenties, infatuated with Elena who falls in love with David (Bardem) on a disastrous night that causes Victor to be sent to jail and David to become paraplegic.

Language Learning Notes

The end of the film contrasts Victor's birth during the Spanish Civil War, to modern Spain that has changed and healed though still marked by its past:

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The Flower of my Secret (La flor de mi secreto)

Title: La flor de mi secreto (The Flower of My Secret)
Released: 1995
Director:: Pedro Almodóvar

Plot Summary

Leo Macias writes romance novels under pseudonym Amanda Gris and is hired to write a critique of (unknowingly) her own work. Meanwhile, Leo's own marriage is in shambles while her husband is stationed in Brussels despite her knack for writing idealistic love stories.

While not my favorite Almodóvar films (like Volver and Mala educación), La flor de mi secreto is certainly worth watching.

Language Learning Notes

The dialogue is relatively easy to understand and is good exposure to a Spanish accent.

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