Let’s Talk Cinema

Cine, Spanish for cinema, is one of my favorite pastimes. Movies are a great introduction to culture, language and history of another region. Director Carlos Saura’s, Carmen, was a key inspiration for my website’s title, Fake Flamenco. The passion I saw in the dancing of the classic opera’s retelling scorched my eyelashes. Latin culture, art and language takes my life from bud to bloom.

What I like is quirky, often romantic, silly, poignant and funny. Happy endings are not central to Latin film; but telling an interesting story in an unique way is. My list of the best films in Spanish I have seen so far, in chronological order:

  • Carmen (Carlos Saura, Spanish) (1983) Flamenco, heat, drama, and the pervasive question of what is real and what is theater.
  • El Mariachi by Robert Rodríguez, Mexican-American director (1992) Proof a film student can make a great action flick on a tiny budget. Superb acting by the extras.
  • Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate, 1992) Directors: Alfonso Aráu, Emmanuel Lubezki, and Steven Bernstein, Writer: Laura Esquivel. Book of tragic romance and kitchen magic turned movie.
  • Fresa y chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate, 1993) Cuban directors: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío. What does it mean to be Cuban? Opposites attract in this story set in Castro Cuba. (LGBTQ+)
  • Mécaniques célestes (Celestial Clockwork, 1995) Dir: Fina Torres (Venezuela), Ricardo Aronovich. Woman leaves fiance at the altar in Latin America to find a new life as an opera singer in Spain. Her roommate conspires to separate her from her new lover and from success in her singing career. (LGBTQ+)
  • La flor de mi secreto (Flower of my Secret, 1995) by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, The secret life of a romance novelist who hides behind a pen name.
  • Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother, 1999) by director Pedro Almodóvar. A mother looks for solace among new friends after losing someone close to her.
  • La lengua de las mariposas (Butterfly, 1999) by director José Luis Cuerda, Spanish. Coming of age in Civil War Spain.
  • La fiebre del loco (Loco Fever, 2001) Directed by a Chilean, Andrés Wood. Quirky low-budget Chilean movie about fishing for a favorite catch (read: an aphrodisiac). A playful heist movie where everyone is guilty of some sin.
  • L’Auberge espagnole (The Spanish Apartment, 2002) By French directors Cédric Klapisch and Dominique Colin. (multilingual) Students live in shifts in a Barcelona apartment, hijinks ensue.
  • No (2012) (Pablo Larraín, Sergio Armstrong, Chilean) The story of the Chilean plebiscite that marked the end of the Pinochet dictatorship. Power of the people.
  • Tesoros (Treasures, 2017) directed by María Novaro. This deceptively simple film by a top Mexican director, tells the story of children who find treasure in the ocean. Wonderful child actors.

Were the movies better in the 90s? Or did I just have more time to watch them ; ) What are your favorite foreign films in Spanish or any language? La Femme Nikita (France), Run Lola Run (Germany), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (India), The Gods Must Be Crazy (South Africa), Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (China, USA)?

Thanks for reading Fake Flamenco! Olé! -Rebecca

Para leer este ensayo en español, haz un clic aquí.

Rebecca Cuningham

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