Spanish Films

Films presented during the Lincoln Center's annual Spanish Cinema Now festival. Additional descriptions collected from the Film Society of Lincoln Center's website.
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1.
Barcelona (un mapa) (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
(90 mins.)
Director: Ventura Pons
“ One of Spanish Cinema Now’s most frequent and popular guests, Ventura Pons returns with two of his strongest works in years. The first, Barcelona (A Map), is based on a play by Catalan playwright Lluisa Cunillé. The owners of a ramshackle downtown apartment building, Rosa (the long-awaited return to the screen of Nuria Espert, a legend of Spanish theater) and Ramon, call together their tenants. Ramon, formerly a doorman at the opera, announces that he is dying, and that he and Rosa would like to spend their last days alone—so everybody has to leave. The reactions of the tenants are varied and surprising, revealing secrets about their relations with each other as well as with their landlords. Barcelona is never far from the center of Ventura Pons’ concerns in many of his films; here, he effectively transforms the fading world of Rosa and Ramon into a mirror for the city’s rapidly changing life and sensibility. ” - lowtempfizz
 
2.
“ Victor and Laura, a film director and his assistant, travel to a small seaside town on the Galician coast. Their intention is to record its beauty––not only the landscape and people but also a more evanescent beauty embedded in small everyday actions, gestures and things encountered. But they just cannot seem to fulfill their ambitious goal of “catching life” with the camera. They decide to hand over their equipment and footage to the local children who, they hope, could better see, relate to and capture this enchanting atmosphere. What results is a documentation of the everyday life and beauty of the town as seen from the playful, inquisitive perspective of the children, and a film that moves back and forth between fiction and documentary using the fragile beauty of a butterfly—beauty that is fleeting, always out of grasp—as the driving metaphor. ” - lowtempfizz
 
3.
Chaotic Ana (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A countdown, 10, 9, 8, 7... until 0, like in hypnosis, through which Ana proves that she does not live alone. (118 mins.)
Director: Julio Medem
“ Ana (impressive newcomer Manuela Vellés) lives with her father in a cave in Ibiza, supporting herself by selling her colorful paintings to tourists. After a French woman, Justine (Charlotte Rampling), invites her to move to an artists’ commune in Madrid, Ana finds herself in the capital, guarding a terrifying secret: she has visions that she can neither predict nor understand. Her search for an answer will take her both halfway around the globe—and to places inside her she never knew existed.

As in his Lovers of the Arctic Circle, Julio Medem creates an enormous fresco of a story, in which the connections between characters and events are more often ruled by poetic rather than narrative language. Made as a kind of homage to his own sister Ana, who died in 2000 and whose paintings appear in the film, Chaotic Ana is a sumptuous, sensuous work that only Medem, Spain’s most adventurous cinematic auteur, could have conceived. ” - lowtempfizz
 
4.
The Contestant (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A black comedy chronicling the fate of the biggest gameshow prize in history. (84 mins.)
Director: Rodrigo Cortés
“ After he wins the greatest prize in the history of television––more than 3 million Euros worth of goods and property––Martin Circo’s (Leonardo Sbaraglia) seemingly normal life as a respected professor of economics spirals into a Kafka-esque nightmare. With all the hidden taxes and penalties, he is shocked to learn that he simply cannot afford to be a millionaire. Despite a desperate attempt to rid himself of all his winnings, he is pulled deeper and deeper into the jungle of debt and tax bureaucracy. Aware that his life is spinning out of control, Martin seeks the advice of Edmundo Figueroa (Chete Lera), an extravagant, dissident economist who has his own remedies for the violence and brutality of the market economy. An impressive debut feature, Contestant is a witty, quick-paced critique of consumer-capitalist society, impeccably constructed and filled with jet-black humor. ” - lowtempfizz
 
5.
Cabeza de perro (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A drama about a boy who lives in a bubble because of a rare brain disease. (91 mins.)
Director: Santi Amodeo
“ Andalusian director Santi Amodeo follows on the success of his impressive debut Astronauts with this affecting portrait of Samuel (Juan José Ballesta , the fine young actor from El Bola and 7 Virgins), an 18-year-old suffering from a rare neurological condition, trying to navigate the traps and problems of young adulthood while struggling to function normally on a physical level. After spending a rare night out on the town with his cousin, Samuel wakes up in the back of a truck parked in Madrid—where, like it or not, a new life awaits him. Amodeo effectively creates the sense of Samuel as a young man who appears normal but who really is in a world of his own. His relationships in Madrid ––especially with Consuelo (Adriana Ugarte), a young woman as disoriented in her own way as he is, and Angelito, an Alzheimer’s victim beautifully played by veteran Manuel Alexandre ––are rendered with great delicacy and without sentimentality. ” - lowtempfizz
 
6.
The Education of Fairies (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
In a time of crisis, a young boy tries to make sense of the fine line between fantasy and reality in this drama from Spain... (103 mins.)
“ A charming, delicate tale about the various ways people deal with loss, The Education of Fairies begins as Nicolás (a wonderful performance by Argentine actor Ricardo Darín) meets Ingrid (French actress Irène Jacob) and her young son Raúl (Víctor Valdivia) on an airplane heading to Barcelona. Ingrid is clearly the woman he has been waiting for all his life, and Raúl is the son he’s never had. In no time, they are married and living in a beautiful house. Nicolas forms a very tight bond with Raúl, spending long hours telling him about the world and the special race of fairies whose job it is to protect it and make things right. Then, when things surprisingly change in their lives, Raúl expects those very fairies to make their appearance. Darín and Jacob (The Double Life of Veronique) work beautifully together, but the revelation here is child actor Valdivia, who manages to make Darín’s transitions between his fantasy world and the world in which he and his parents live both convincing and poignant. ” - lowtempfizz
 
7.
53 días de invierno (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
(91 mins.)
Director: Judith Colell
“ A man drives up to a bus stop on a chilly winter night, lets a dog out of his car and drives away. The three witnesses waiting at the bus stop are Mila (Mercedes Sampietro), a teacher just returning to her job after a year’s leave of absence; Valeria (Aina Clotet), an aspiring musician in love with her professor; and Celso (Alex Brendemühl), a security guard in a department store having problems making ends meet. 53 Winter Days follows the lives of all three in the aftermath of the incident. Gemma Ventura’s screenplay never has these characters cross paths again, yet over time, the development of their stories offers a series of provocative rhymes and resonances. Judith Colell’s fine debut feature offers an affecting portrait of a society whose outward calm and material well-being hide the currents of anxiety coursing just below the surface of everyday life. ” - lowtempfizz
 
8.
Lola, la película (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  
Movie about the life Lola Flores, the most famous Spanish flamenco singer of all times. (100 mins.)
Director: Miguel Hermoso
“ This touching portrait of flamenco singer/ dancer/actress Lola Flores, one of the most popular Spanish performers of the 20th century, begins by recounting her childhood in Jerez in the 1930s. Fascinated by the flamenco dancing and singing of her gypsy neighbors, Flores soon becomes their apprentice and, though only eight years old, vows to dedicate the rest of her life to becoming a great bailaora. Relentless in the pursuit of her dream, she submits to a grueling training regime with the greatest flamenco masters of her day, and makes her first public performance at 13. The film chronicles her ascent to stardom, as well as her marriage to Antonio González, “El Pescaílla,” brilliantly capturing the dark, repressive atmosphere of Franco’s dictatorship. Director Miguel Hermoso and screenwriter Antonio Onetti play down the glamour of Lola even at the height of her popularity, focusing instead on the extraordinary hard work and dedication she constantly needed to get to and stay at the top. Actress Gala Évora gives herself over totally to her incarnation of Lola; the choreography is by the great Cristina Hoyos. ” - lowtempfizz
 
9.
Mataharis (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Private detective Inés infiltrates the employees at a multinational corporation. Thanks to the collaboration of Manuel... (100 mins.)
Director: Icíar Bollaín
“ Icíar Bollaín - whose powerful feature Take My Eyes won just about every major Goya award, including Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Actor and Actress – returns with this engaging look at the work and lives of three female private investigators. Ines (Maria Vazquez) is working undercover at a large multinational concern, ostensibly to weed out corruption but actually to report on workers’ efforts to unionize. Eva (Najwa Nimri), recently back at work after maternity leave, struggles to juggle her case load with family life, when she accidentally discovers a secret her partner has long kept from her. Carmen (Nuria González), investigating a case of adultery, starts reflecting on her own loveless marriage. Aided by three standout performances, Bollaín creates exceptionally rich portraits of these women, neither eroticizing their professional lives nor diminishing the importance of their personal ones. ” - lowtempfizz
 
10.
Scandalous (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A refreshing and extremely hilarious musical where a family who seems ordinary turns out to be highly dysfunctional... (105 mins.)
Director: Álvaro Begines
“ An outrageous, very contemporary musical comedy, Scandalous is the first feature by Alvaro Begines, a founding member of the comedy troupe “Don’t Step on Me Because I’m Wearing Sandals.” In one day, Luis (Antonio Dechent) loses all the women in his life. His wife, feeling unappreciated, leaves, eventually finding herself in a Buddhist monastery. His daughter decides to test her boyfriend’s love for her, while his mother (Lola Herrera, one of the great divas of the Spanish stage) hooks up with a couple of squatters. After his own efforts to track them down fail, Luis calls in the services of a rather singular detective who goes by the auspicious name Manolete (Manuel Morón). The often madcap action is punctuated by song, which the characters lip-synch with great intensity. Scandalous is a rousing good time, with some pointed observations about family, love and sex in today’s Spain. ” - lowtempfizz
 
11.
Septiembres (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Each September, the inmates from Madrid's prison system gather in Soto de Real penitentiary for the Festival of Song. This intimate, experiential documentary follows the love stories of eight participants over the course of one year. (113 mins.)
Director: Carlos Bosch
“ When Carles Bosch, director of the Oscar®-nominated Balseros, went to visit a friend in a Madrid-area jail, he was stunned at what was going on there: a full-blown karaoke competition for the inmates. Among the participants of the 2005 Festival of Song that Bosch went on to film are Adalberto, a gay Argentinean whose grandmother thinks he’s on a cruise; Rudolf, a Lithuanian incarcerated for forgery; Gardoqui, a former drummer for a well-known ‘80s rock band; and Arturo, a Spanish roma (gypsy) with a wife and three children. They and the other competitors literally sing their hearts out, putting extraordinary expression and emotion into their renditions of popular love songs as they create brief moments in which their individual lives and dreams shine through. For over a year, Bosch followed the stories of his subjects, even traveling to distant points around the globe to seek out the men and women to whom the prisoners’ plaintive love songs are addressed. Despite the film’s setting in a prison and the hard-luck lives of its subjects, Septembers is a joy to watch, a true celebration of the power of love. ” - lowtempfizz
 
12.
Siete mesas de billar francés (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Angela and her young son Guille travel to the big city to see Leo, her father and the boy's grandfather... (116 mins.)
“ Angela (Maribel Verdú), hoping to visit her ailing father, sets off to her hometown with her son in tow. She arrives too late, and her father’s long-time girlfriend, Charo (Blanca Portillo), explains that the old man left mountains of debt that she hopes to cover by selling off their business: a local billiards hall, complete with seven regulation-size tables. An idea occurs to Angela: Why not take over the business and try to turn it around? Gracia Querejeta’s warmest, loosest film yet, Seven Billiards Tables is a perfect vehicle for showing her great talent for creating richly detailed environments, demimondes that operate by their own rules and conventions. Our guides to this particular world are Tuerto (Enrique Villen) and Jacinto (Ramon Barea), two faithful denizens of the billiards halls only too eager to show Angela the ropes. Querejeta and co-writer David Planell shared the prize for Best Screenplay with John Sayles at the 2007 San Sebastian Film Festival. ” - lowtempfizz
 
13.
Theresa: The Body of Christ (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  
A drama based on the life of Spain's feminist mystic Saint Teresa (Vega). (97 mins.)
Director: Ray Loriga
“ Spain in the 16th century. Theresa de Cepeda y Ahumada (Paz Vega), the intelligent and attractive daughter of a nobleman from Avila, refuses to accept what’s expected of her — namely, marriage to a well-to-do gentleman. Instead, much to the surprise of those around her, she enters a cloistered convent of the Carmelite order. But finding that the privileged young women who entered as novitiates often continue with the lifestyles they enjoyed outside, Theresa founds her own convent with the help of her benefactor Guimara de Ulloa (Leonor Watling). Meanwhile, the visions that began appearing to Theresa during an illness become more frequent. She begins writing religious texts that speak of a mystical yet passionate union with Chris t— and which soon attract the attention of The Inquisition. The life of St. Theresa de Avila has inspired artists from Rubens to Bernini, not to mention innumerable religious commentators on her work. Ray Loriga, aided by a graceful, subtle performance by Vega, finds the woman behind the image of the saint and mystic, giving her efforts and struggles a strikingly contemporary resonance. ” - lowtempfizz
 
14.
Under the Stars (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
(108 mins.)
“ Director of several internationally acclaimed short films, Félix Viscarret easily makes the transition to features with this offbeat, delicately observed tale that swept the major prizes at this year’s Spanish national film festival in Malaga. Benito Lacunza (Alberto San Juan) is a mediocre trumpet player eking out a living when he gets word that his father has died. Back home, he reconnects with his brother Lalo, a sculptor and former alcoholic who has struggled to get straight. Lalo is planning to marry Nines, which Benito is against — until he meets Nines’ daughter Ainara (Violeta Rodriguez), an introverted child with whom Benito creates a most unusual friendship.

Viscarret elegantly captures the feeling of small-town life, with its suspicions, jealousies and sense that everyone knows everybody else’s business. San Juan is excellent as Benito: just the right combination of big-city snobbery and barely concealed vulnerability. In her first major role, Rodriguez is a revelation. ” - lowtempfizz
 
15.
Me (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A handyman named Hans moves to a small town in Majorca where his his presence strikes a discord with the local residents. (100 mins.)
Director: Rafa Cortés
“ Named “Revelation of the Year” by FIPRESCI, the international association of film critics, Yo is a taut, unsettling drama about the loss of identity, set in a tranquil village in Majorca. Hans (Alex Brendemühl, who co-wrote the film) is a German who arrives one day looking for the house of a rich German long settled on the island. He has come to replace the previous handyman, who departed in such a hurry that he left behind his clothes and meager possessions. But did he just leave? Nobody seems to know what happened to him, although some of the locals are convinced he is coming back. Using the simplest of cinematic means, debut director Rafa Cortés creates a palpable atmosphere of constant suspicion and doubt. Looks, gestures, even objects seem to carry some hidden meaning that Hans struggles to decipher. ” - lowtempfizz
 
16.
Ashes from the Sky (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
(96 mins.)
“ A little calf is born. Shaky at first, it nonetheless seems like it might survive—unlike so many other animals born in Valle Negrón. The once spectacular bit of paradise includes a now 30-year-old coal-fired plant. Area inhabitants attribute the increase of a wide variety of health problems to the frequent rain of ashes and other waste products, as well as the suspected poisoning of water and soil. But for others, the plant represents their livelihood as the region’s chief employer.

When Ferguson, a Scot writing a travel guide, gets stuck in a village within sight of the plant, he finds himself getting involved in the divisive struggle. Winner of the Toyota Earth Prize for best environmental film at this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, Ashes from the Sky is an engaging drama that examines the compromises and consequences made over environmental concerns as they affect people’s everyday lives. ” - lowtempfizz
 
17.
Before the Fall (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
The world learns that a planet killing meteorite will arrive in 72 hours. (93 mins.)
“ The Secretary General of the United Nations makes an important announcement:

A giant meteor is headed towards Earth, and scientists believe its impact—which should come in about three days — will destroy all life on the planet. Stark fear and chaos take hold of the world. But for Alejandro (Victor Clavijo), a frustrated young man who lives with his mother in the isolated village of Laguna, the impending end inspires him to spend his last days shut away, getting drunk and listening to his favorite music.

All is well, until a stranger arrives and unsettles the town. First-time director F. Javier Gutiérrez masterfully creates the atmosphere of a world literally waiting for its own destruction; facing the inevitable end, what should you still care about? Before the Fall is another fine example of the new breed of intelligently made, provocative genre films found in recent Spanish cinema. ” - lowtempfizz
 
18.
Casual Day (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
(95 mins.)
Director: Max Lemcke
“ “Casual day” is said to be a business technique imported from the U.S.: companies establish a day during the work week in which the employees are encouraged to “be themselves” and wear jeans, engage in a group activity or just let down their guard. For the firm led by Jose Antonio (Juan Diego, always fine), this means a full-blown retreat in the countryside, much to the chagrin of the company’s newest employee, Ruy (Javier Rios), the boyfriend of the boss’s daughter.

He isn’t sure he wants to be doing any of this — especially after he interacts with fellow employees Cholo (Luis Tosar), Arozamena (Alex Angulo) or the staff psychologist (Alberto San Juan). Soon, long-held grudges and everyday office treacheries rise to the surface. Casual Day is a pitch-black comedy about the hilariously brutal implementation of sensitivity techniques. ” - lowtempfizz
 
19.
Enloquecidas (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  
Blanca meets the man of her life and when disappears embarks on a frantic search helped by her aunt Barbara. Follow a fun tangle involving a pair of elderly offenders, an actress stuck in the same paper and a husband tired of such madness.
“ Twenty-something Bianca (Silvia Abascal) excitedly reveals to her aunt, Barbara (Almodóvar favorite Verónica Forqué), that she’s met the man of her dreams—only soon after meeting him, he disappeared. Taken by the real-estate savvy Barbara to see a house that’s up for sale, Bianca notices a framed portrait of her beloved on the mantle. Ah yes, explains the older couple that owns the house, that’s a picture of our son, who unfortunately is dead.

This hilarious, often outrageous thriller is a tribute to some of the odder haunts of Madrid, spinning a wild plot that eventually includes an insecure actress, a secretary who claims to have ESP, and an increasingly furious husband. Costume designer Pepe Reyes received a special award at this year’s Málaga Film Festival for the film’s eye-popping wardrobe. ” - lowtempfizz
 
20.
Todos estamos invitados (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
Spain. The Basque Country. Sometime in the 90s. Josu Jon, a young member of a terrorist organization... (80 mins.)
“ One of Spain’s finest directors, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón offers a provocative, very personal take on the current conflict in the Basque region. Radical commando leader Josu Jon (Oscar Jaenada) is shot during a confrontation with the police. The bullet, lodged in his left frontal lobe, doesn’t kill him, but when he wakes from his coma in a prison hospital, he has absolutely no memory of his past. Francesca, an Italian student working on his case, becomes fascinated by her patient, but she is unsure how much Josu Jon should remember about his past—or how much he wants to.

In interviews, Gutiérrez Aragón has spoken of the tendency in the Basque region to simply “look away,” to turn from the undercurrent of violence and threats that haunts society there. Everyone’s Invited explores the corrosive consequences of this willful ignorance. ” - lowtempfizz
 
21.
El rey de la montaña (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Quim drives around an isolated rural area through a maze of lanes. When he drives into the woods, he gets lost... (90 mins.)
“ Quim (Leonardo Sbaraglia) is driving through a remote, mountainous region on his way to work things out with his estranged girlfriend when he goes to use the men’s room at a gas station and his eyes meet Bea’s (Maria Valverde). After a quick tryst, Quim discovers that his wallet’s been stolen, and he sets out after the woman—when a sniper suddenly shoots out his motor.

López-Gallego’s crisp thriller keeps you continuously on edge, shifting gears along with Quim as you come to yet to another idea about what’s really going on. The ravishing mountain locations, so majestic when first seen, are soon transformed into a labyrinth in which danger is lurking behind every rock and tree. ” - lowtempfizz
 
22.
Black Listed (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
A businessman returns his family home after eight years in exile avoiding the terrorism of the ETA. (100 mins.)
Director: Gorka Merchán
“ Txomin Garay (Carmelo Romerio) left the constant political tension of the Basque region ten years ago for a new life in Argentina. After learning that his estranged brother is dying, Txomin returns with his family for a visit. But to his chagrin, Txomin discovers that the passions and divisions that had driven him away have, if anything, become even worse, and moreover, they’ve infected a whole new, younger generation, including his nephew Gaizka (Juan Jose Ballesta).

Txomin uses their shared passion for Basque pelota, a version of handball, to establish a relationship with the young man, only to be rebuffed and called a traitor for having left. Meanwhile, Txomin’s daughter Ane begins her own relationship with Gaizka, causing her to wonder about her identity and relationship to her homeland. Few films have offered as intimate a portrait of the ongoing Basque question. Gorka Merchán, working from a screenplay by Iñaki Mendiguren, brings the region’s conflict down to the family level, showing how it can even divide brother from brother. ” - lowtempfizz
 
23.
My Prison Yard (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
In Madrid, a petty thief who cannot adjust to life outside of jail puts together a theater troupe her friends -- a prostitute, a gypsy, and a Colombian immigrant -- in an attempt to make a go at a relatively straight life. (100 mins.)
Director: Belén Macías
“ Sent back to prison after participating in a robbery, Isa (Veronica Echegui) joins in a theater workshop organized by the warden (Candela Peña). Amidst the everyday brutality that defines prison life, the workshop becomes both a refuge and a free zone for these women to express themselves in ways they never thought possible. But for Isa—who demonstrates a real talent for acting—the drug addiction that brought her back to jail is never far away.

Produced by the Almodóvar brothers’ El Deseo shingle, My Prison Yard goes beyond the concentration on physical and emotional violence of the typical prison film to offer a series of finely detailed portraits of a group of women looking for second chances. ” - lowtempfizz
 
24.
Night Flowers (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
A look at the transformation of the Spanish city, Pozo del Tio Raimundo.
“ A new entry in Spain’s thriving documentary tradition, Juan Vicente Córdoba’s fascinating Night Flowers focuses on the history and evolution of El Pozo del Tío Raimundo, one of numerous shanty towns that sprang up in the late ’40s and ’50s as rural families flocked to Spanish cities. The film chronicles the town and especially the activities of Father Llanos, a so-called “red priest” who administered to the inhabitants’ spiritual needs and, perhaps even more crucially, instilled in them a passion for achieving freedom and fair treatment.

Working over many years, helping to create a new sense of self-worth and commitment, Father Llanos set out to help change the world. Night Flowers examines the results of this process, and the memories of the original inhabitants regarding their own and the town’s transformation. ” - lowtempfizz
 
25.
“ Santiago Zannou makes an impressive feature film debut with this fascinating tour of Barcelona’s lively and growing hip-hop scene. Afflicted since childhood with paralysis on one side of his body, Enrique (Juan Manuel Montillo)—known to everyone as Cuajo—has a single dream: to make it in the world of music. Together with his friend Adolfo, he attempts to set up a studio while gathering some of the newest, freshest talents around.

One-Armed Trick features some of the hottest stars of Spanish rap—among them Elio Sagues, Ovone Candela and La Mala Rodriguez. The screenplay is loosely based on Montillo’s life; he is better known as El Langui, lead singer of La Excepcion, recently voted the best Spanish-language rappers on MTV. ” - lowtempfizz
 
26.
Pretextos (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
(90 mins.)
Director: Silvia Munt
“ Silvia Munt, one of Spain’s finest actresses, makes an impressive directorial debut with Pretexts, a film Munt says was “written by and for women” and for which she was named best director at this year’s Málaga Film Festival.

Viena (Munt) is a theater director about to embark on her most ambitious production. Her husband Daniel (Ramon Madaula) is a doctor in a geriatric clinic. The couple might be in love, except that they can’t stand each other; each lives intensely in a world the other can barely enter. To fill the void, Viena turns to her lead actor Ricardo (Francesc Garrido), whose role in both the play and in Viena’s life keeps slipping between fiction and reality. For Daniel, there’s Eva (Laia Marull), a pretty nurse who expresses a connection and compassion for her patients that’s the opposite of Daniel’s clinical detachment.

The screenplay, written by Munt with Eva Baeza, offers intricate parallels and resonances between these complex, contradictory and very contemporary lives. ” - lowtempfizz
 
27.
Pudor (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
(106 mins.)
“ Actor Tristán Ulloa (Sex and Lucia, Mensaka) teamed up with his brother David to direct this taut, unsettling look at the secrets that drive a family apart.

Young Sergio’s adoptive mother Julia (Elvira Minguez, best actress winner at the 2007 Málaga Film Festival) receives pornographic love letters, which lead Alfredo (Nancho Novo), Sergio’s father, to suspect she’s having an affair. Alfredo hides the truth of his most recent medical checkup from the family, while Sergio’s sister tries to sort out the range of attractions she feels for her peers. As for Sergio, soon after his grandmother dies he becomes convinced that he can actually see ghosts.

Adapted by Tristán from the novel by Santiago Roncagliolo, Pudor—a Spanish word that translates to modesty or shyness but is also related to the Latin putor, stench—reveals the vast emotional distances that separate even close relatives who live together. The directors create connections between each character’s individual story and secrets using a vibrant, largely hand-held camera. ” - lowtempfizz
 
28.
Pas a nivell (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
(103 mins.)
“ Recent university graduate Marc doesn’t know the next step he should take in his life. Practically on a whim, he heads off to the Costa Brava to live with his grandmother. Marc has plenty of time to observe and comment on the world in his new job renting out jet skis to tourists. But when his grandmother falls sick, he has to face up to some hard decisions.

This quirky, sensitive coming-of-age film is distinguished by refreshingly low-key performances and an assured visual aesthetic, tracing one young man’s passage to adulthood while capturing the rhythms and rituals of a popular tourist town. Pere Vilà joins the ranks of the continually impressive new generation of Catalan filmmakers. ” - lowtempfizz
 
29.
Rated R (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
A witty look at three actresses working in soft porn cinema in a country waking up after 40 years of repression. (103 mins.)
“ In the years immediately following the death of Franco, the new taste for liberty in Spain found cinematic expression in a number of increasingly risqué sex comedies that flaunted former, regime-imposed limits and regulations. Actresses Sandra (Candela Peña), Lina (Goya Toledo) and Eva (Mar Flores) come from different backgrounds but take the same expressway into Spain’s future when they perform in this wave of cine del destape—literally “uncovered films,” symbolizing some idea of modernity for “backwards” Spain.

With echoes of Saturday Night Fever and Boogie Nights, Rated-R presents a dynamic portrait of a society undergoing a historic transition, as three women celebrate modernization without guarding themselves against men who have their own ideas as to what modernization means. ” - lowtempfizz
 
30.
[Rec] (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying. (78 mins.)
“ A box office smash in Spain, [REC] follows television news reporter Angela and her cameraman Pablo as they shoot in a firehouse for a reality show called When You’re Asleep. The routine assignment takes a surprising turn when two firemen are dispatched to rescue an elderly lady trapped in her apartment in a high-rise building. With Angela and Pablo in tow, the firemen break down the woman’s door and discover that she has a craving for human flesh. Angela tells Pablo to keep the tape rolling, and starts interviewing the apartment’s tenants as they anxiously await the invasion of the flesh-eaters.

Reminiscent of early Cronenberg in its deft blending of offbeat humor and real shocks, [REC] breathes new life into a tried-and-true horror tale. (It was re-made and released by Hollywood this October as Quarantine.) ” - lowtempfizz
 
31.
Timecrimes (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A man accidentally gets into a time machine and travels back in time nearly an hour. Finding himself will be the first of a series of disasters of unforeseeable consequences. (92 mins.)
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
“ Peering out over a lush forest through his binoculars, Hector (Karra Elejalde) sees a near-naked woman running frantically. When he goes over to investigate, a scissor-wielding maniac attacks him. His escape takes him into mysterious, fortress-like building that turns out to be a research center. The scientist who seems to be manning the center by himself tells Hector he can hide inside a sleek plastic pod—which he claims is a time machine.

Timecrimes is another wonderful example of the inventive, intelligent use of genre formats found in some of the best recent Spanish films. Vigalondo, who also acts in the film, builds the intrigue gradually but inexorably, introducing new levels of complexity to his plot just when you think you’ve got it all figured out. ” - lowtempfizz
 
32.
Cell 211 (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The story of two men on different sides of a prison riot -- the inmate leading the rebellion and the young guard trapped in the revolt, who poses as a prisoner in a desperate attempt to survive the ordeal. (113 mins.)
Director: Daniel Monzón
“ A freak accident knocks out Juan Oliver (Alberto Ammann) on his first day as a prison guard. When he wakes, he discovers that the inmates have taken over the penitentiary, and his only way to survive is to join the uprising, led by Mala Madre (an extraordinary Luis Tosar). The implications of the revolt go beyond the prison walls when the rioters turn on a group of Basque political prisoners. Daniel Monzón’s taut, gripping jailhouse thriller is laced with commentary on the current Spanish political scene. ” - lowtempfizz
 
33.
“ On May 2, 1809, Spaniards joined together in massive street protests in Madrid against the occupying French army. The uprising grew into a full-scale rebellion, and Napoleon himself was forced to intervene. José Luis Garci mounts a sumptuous mosaic of the event, capturing Spain on the verge of recovering its national identity. Félix Monti’s outstanding cinematography beautifully compliments Gil Parrondo’s meticulous sets in this lavish super-production, whose $20 million price tag was partially financed by the city of Madrid. ” - lowtempfizz
 
34.
Camino (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A girl faces love and death. (138 mins.)
Director: Javier Fesser
“ This extraordinarily bold, provocative work has already caused heated debate in Spain. With Camino (Nerea Camacho, simply amazing) lying on her hospital bed, Javier Fesser takes us back five months, to her life as a normal adolescent. When her illness strikes, her family, members of Opus Dei, encourage her to dedicate her suffering to God. Fesser’s powerful vision of the world seen by Camino and her family creates a very contemporary update of a very traditional Spanish film genre: the lives of the saints. ” - lowtempfizz
 
35.
Cataluña Espanya (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
(77 mins.)
Director: Isona Passola
“ Isona Passola and co-writer Joan Dolç’s engaging cinematic essay examines the Catalan issue from three vantage points: the obligatory use of Catalan in schools and public places; the question of federal budget allocations (i.e. why should prosperous Catalonia send so much of its tax money to other parts of Spain?); and the contentious 2006 effort to redefine Catalonia as a “nation within the Spanish nation.” Academics, politicians, artists, social commentators, and other well-known personalities discuss the current meaning of Catalan autonomy, as well as the future of that autonomy within a rapidly unifying Europe. ” - lowtempfizz
 
36.
Cousin Angelica (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
When the single middle-aged Luis travels from Barcelona to bury the remains of his mother in the vault of his family in Segovia... (107 mins.)
Director: Carlos Saura
“ Rumor has it that upon seeing Cousin Angelica at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival, Luis Buñuel broke down in tears. For many Spaniards, the film was an overwhelming rendering of the feelings of the Republicans, losers of the Civil War: a combination of guilt, shame, rage, and fear made more horrible having been repressed for decades. Luis (Vázquez) travels to the family crypt in Segovia to bury his mother’s remains. On the way, he passes the sights of his childhood, stirring memories of the summer of 1936 and the outbreak of the Civil War. At the heart of this story is his cousin Angelica, not only his first love but also the symbol of all that he has lost. ” - lowtempfizz
 
37.
The Condemned (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
An exiled Argentinean returns home after living in Spain for more than 30 years to help find the remains of a political activist who disappeared during the Junta dictatorship. (94 mins.)
Director: Isaki Lacuesta
“ Exiled activist Martin returns to Argentina to help his friend Raúl excavate a remote burial site containing the remains of disappeared activists from the ’70s. But tensions rise between the two old comrades, as it becomes increasingly clear that there may be more to the disappearances than either wants to admit. Highly regarded for his documentaries and experimental work, director Isaki Lacuesta offers a provocative meditation on the price of failing to live up to your ideals. ” - lowtempfizz
 
38.
The Dancer and the Thief (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
With the advent of democracy in Chile, a general amnesty for prisoners of non violent crime is enacted... (127 mins.)
Director: Fernando Trueba
“ Academy Award-winning filmmaker Fernando Trueba adapts a novel by celebrated Chilean writer Antonio Skarmeta for his first fiction film in seven years. After the end of the Pinochet regime, a general amnesty sends hundreds of inmates back to the streets. Notorious bank robber Nico (an masterfully authoritative Ricardo Darín), wants nothing more than to reunite with his estranged wife, but a petty thief, Angel (newcomer Abel Ayala), has other ideas: to rise and get revenge by convincing Nico to go in on one last heist. ” - lowtempfizz
 
39.
A Good Man (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A law school professor witnesses his colleague, friend and mentor murder his own wife. Rather than turn his friend in, he disowns him, but the decision leads to more danger. (97 mins.)
“ A crisp thriller about moral compromise, Juan Martínez Moreno’s second feature focuses on two law professors—Vicente (Tristán Ulloa) and Fernando (Emilio Gutiérrez Caba)—whose almost paternal relationship is tainted by an unspeakable crime. Vicente refuses to turn in his mentor, but distances himself and his family nevertheless. Soon his silence transforms into complicity, as ambiguities and contradictions turn his carefully controlled world into a pool of hypocrisy. ” - lowtempfizz
 
40.
La buena nueva (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A young priest arrives in his first assignment to a small parish serving a working-class village in the north of Spain in 1936... (108 mins.)
Director: Helena Taberna
“ Based on a true story, The Good News follows a young priest, Miguel (Unax Ugalde), to his new positing in a small village that becomes an immediate target for Franco’s forces when the Civil War begins. As the daily oppression of suspected Leftists increases, Miguel is unavoidably drawn into the struggle. Director Helena Taberna, whose Yoyes was a hit in Spanish Cinema Now 2000, creates a stirring political drama that captures the stark human dimension of ideology in Spain’s past. ” - lowtempfizz
 
41.
Fat People (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Follows the excesses and deprivation of life. Complexes, phobias, obsessions, traumas, fears, sex are aired in a group therapy against obesity. (110 mins.)
“ Gordos (roughly, “fatties”) begins as a devilish motivational speaker harangues his audience about the wonders of Kiloway, his remarkable new diet program. He takes us back a few years and quite a few pounds earlier, through five stories of people struggling with their weight. Columbia graduate Daniel Sánchez Arévalo moves from the darkly comic to the touchingly tragic in this bold new look at the gaps between social expectations, personal desire, and being satisfied with your body. ” - lowtempfizz
 
42.
Hierro (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
After her son goes missing, a broken mother returns months later to the island of El Hierro to identify a body. She finds out her son is not the only one missing. (94 mins.)
Director: Gabe Ibáñez
“ El Hierro Island is Europe’s southernmost point, and its black, volcanic ash beaches and unforgiving landscapes create an end-of-the-world atmosphere in former animator Gabe Ibañez’s crisp debut feature. Maria’s (Elena Anaya) five-year old son goes missing on the ferry to the island. Several months later, the body of a boy matching his description washes ashore. The case seems closed, until Maria discovers that a wave of boys go missing on El Hierro. ” - lowtempfizz
 
43.
Petit indi (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
(90 mins.)
Director: Marc Recha
“ NYFF-veteran Marc Recha returns with a poignant modern fable. Sixteen-year-old Arnau (newcomer Marc Soto) waits out his mother’s jail sentence by raising songbirds for competition. But he sacrifices money for art when he’s offered handsome sum for his latest region champion, thinking he’s found another way to earn his mother’s release. Recha’s films offer calm surfaces, surging underneath with powerful, even destructive currents. Eduardo Noriega and Sergi López round out a cast combining professionals and locals. ” - lowtempfizz
 
44.
Mediterranean Food (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Sofia's story, the best chef the world, and the two men who helped her to become a legend. (102 mins.)
“ Joaquín Oristrell’s delightful new comedy stars Olivia Molina (daughter of Angela) as Sophia, who has always loved to cook for her family and a few appreciative customers. But when Frank (Alfonso Bassave) dazzles her with a vision of superstardom—even inviting her homebody boyfriend along for the ride—a surprising new force takes over Spain’s culinary scene. Quick-paced and full of sharp observations, Mediterranean Food features a star-making performance by Molina. ” - lowtempfizz
 
45.
Romancero marroquí (1939 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(85 mins.)
“ After the outbreak of the Civil War, Carlos Velo fled to Spanish Morocco, where he took over a project originally meant to bolster Franco’s ties with Nazi Germany. Velo turned the piece into this beautiful, Robert Flaherty-inspired look at the lives, work, religion, customs, and dances of Moroccan farmers. Though unhappy sponsors filled the final scenes with triumphal victory marches, Velo’s work in this recent discovery and restoration offers a fascinating glimpse at the Spanish cinema that might have been. Print courtesy of the Filmoteca Española. ” - lowtempfizz
 
46.
3some (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
In an attempt to help his friend with his impotence, Jaime sets up two friends together. But after the failure, he comes in to help. What first appeared to be just a sexual experience evolves to a full romantic relationship of 3 people. (94 mins.)
“ Three fine arts students come together over the stresses and jealousies of school and young adult life. Based on a novel by Almudena Grande, Paper Castles captures the intense, almost cloistered world of an art school: the insecurities of these young students paired with the fear that by opening themselves up, they risk becoming vulnerable to others. Salvador García Ruiz is ably aided by his three young leads, who bring a tremendous sense of authenticity to this tale of youthful promise and tentative romance. ” - lowtempfizz
 
47.
[Rec] 2 (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
In order to ascertain the current situation inside, a supposed medical officer and a GEO team step into the quarantined and ill-fated apartment building. (85 mins.)
“ That rare follow-up that actually enriches and expands the premises of the original, [REC] 2 picks up where [REC] left off: flesh-eating zombies have infested a Barcelona apartment building. A Spanish special commando unit is mobilized to take the building. A mysterious health official, who seems to have his own agenda for the mission, leads them. Balagueró and Plaza plunge the viewer into the action within minutes and never let go until the movie ends…or does it? A Film Comment Selects co-presentation. ” - lowtempfizz
 
48.
The Shame (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A young married couple, not knowing how to deal with their new adopted son's behavior, decides to give him back. (90 mins.)
Director: David Planell
“ Taking the best picture and screenplay awards at the 2009 Málaga Film Festival, The Shame offers a clear-headed, sobering, at times unsettling look at adoption. Thirty-somethings Lucia (Natalia Mateo) and Pepe (Alberto San Juan) wake up to face an unpleasant fact, that they have not been able to bond, emotionally or otherwise, with the eight-year-old Peruvian boy they adopted a year earlier. Soon, a concentrated focus on one family’s collapse transforms into a larger study of social forces rarely discussed in Spain. ” - lowtempfizz
 
49.
Stigmata (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
The story of Bruno, a rough, heavy man overly fond of drinking. His only desire is to be a normal person...
Director: Adán Aliaga
“ Adán Aliaga’s impressive feature debut, based on a graphic novel by Lorenzo Mattotti and Claudio Piersanti, skillfully veers between the sacred and the profane. A hulking giant of a man, Bruno (Spanish shotput champion Manuel Martinez), wakes up to find that he’s bleeding from several mysterious wounds: Did he forget some run-in from the night before? Hounded over what some see as symbols of divine favor, he flees the city, only to find his life increasingly defined by his marks. ” - lowtempfizz
 
50.
Torero (1956 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The life of the famed Mexican bullfighter Luis Procuna, from his boyhood through his training and the... (75 mins.)
Director: Carlos Velo
“ Nominated for the best documentary Oscar in 1958, Torero has long been the finest film ever made about bullfighting. Carlos Velo takes us deep into the closed, highly ritualistic (if slightly fictionalized) world of Luis Procuna, one of the era’s most important matadors, as his progress, despite some close calls from some very dangerous animals, leads him to headline the major bullfights of Mexico. Along the way, we see such bullfighting legends as Manolete, Carlos Arruza, and Luis Briones. Print courtesy of the Filmoteca Española. ” - lowtempfizz
 
51.
V.O.S. (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
A game between four characters. A comedy about love and friendship. A film about the great lie of story telling that moves between reality and fiction. (87 mins.)
Director: Cesc Gay
“ V.O.S.—meaning “original version, subtitled”—is a typical designation for art films in Spain, where almost all films are dubbed into Spanish. Yet the art here refers more to artifice, as two thirty-something Barcelona couples struggle with separation and parenthood. Are they actual, real-life couples or contrivances for a screenplay being written by one of the characters? Cesc Gay takes us into the grey area between living and acting to look at what makes up a romantic comedy, creating a fine romantic comedy in the process. ” - lowtempfizz
 
52.
Woman Without Piano (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
A quietly comic look at a Madrid housewife's attempt to escape from her mundane and tedious existence... (94 mins.)
Director: Javier Rebollo
“ With her husband Francisco (Pep Ricart) tucked in bed, housewife/entrepreneur Rosa (Spanish TV superstar Carmen Machi, recently seen in Almodóvar’s Broken Embraces) sneaks out to meet a young Polish construction worker at the bus station, inspiring a provocative tour of nocturnal Madrid: neon-lit hotels, all-night bars, dingy launderettes. Javier Rebollo, winner of the best director award at this year’s San Sebastián Film Festival, creates a subtle, fascinating, and disquieting work deftly balancing documentary style and omniscient narrative. ” - lowtempfizz
 
53.
Father (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
(85 mins.)
“ “A haunting, contemplative essay that moves between that which we see and that which we imagine.”—Maria Delgado, London Film Festival

A mysterious, empty house in the Basque country. A caretaker watches over it. The local priest comes to visit. They exchange ideas, stories and advice; inexorably, the history of the building emerges through fragments of conversations, the texture of the walls and furniture, the fabric of the curtains, and the glimpses of the garden and the world beyond the house. Aita is a ghost story about people and places haunted by history; director José María Orbe, who has worked with Jaime Rosales and José Luis Guerín, set his film in a 13th-century country mansion where he spent much of his youth. The elegant, richly textured cinematography by Jimmy Gimferrer was awarded a special prize at the recent San Sebastian Film Festival. ” - lowtempfizz
 
54.
Todo lo que tú quieras (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Leo is immediately set adrift by his new found responsibilities as a single parent, a feeling that is made doubly distressing when Dafne... (101 mins.)
Director: Achero Mañas
“ Leo, Alicia and their daughter Dafne are an almost postcard-perfect family: successful, comfortable, loving. Then one day Alicia is not there anymore, and Leo (Juan Diego Botto) discovers that he must learn to be both father and mother—”anything you want”—to his confused and hurting little girl. This is simply a tour-de-force performance for Botto, already one of the foremost Spanish actors of his generation, who here demonstrates a remarkable subtlety and range of emotions. Yet his stunning turn is beautifully balanced by that of Lucía Fernández, who under the guidance of director Achero Mañas becomes one of the most formidable 4-year olds you’ve ever seen on screen. ” - lowtempfizz
 
55.
Aro Tolbukhin in the Mind of a Killer (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Aro Tolbukhin is a hungarian inmigrant that sets fire to seven people in an infirmary in a Mission in Guatemala, the movie traces back to see what made him do it, from his arrival in Guatemala to his childhood in Hungary. (95 mins.)
“ Perhaps the darkest of the many “bleak poets” of Spanish cinema, Agustí Villaronga combines footage from a French-produced documentary on a condemned killer with dramatic sequences to explore the mind and world of a mass murderer. In 1981, the Hungarian Aro Tolbukhin was arrested for the murder of seven people in Guatemala’s Misión del Divino Redentor. While in prison, Tolbukhin confessed to almost two dozen other unsolved murders, committed supposedly while he was on shore leave from his job as a merchant seaman. As information of these revelations leaked out, the case of Aro Tolbukhin became a worldwide sensation, yet as the cases were more closely examined and contradictions in his testimony were noted, doubts about Tolbukhin’s actual responsibility began to be raised. A journey into some of the most hidden recesses of human imagination. ” - lowtempfizz
 
56.
Black Bread (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
In the harsh post-war years' Catalan countryside, Andreu, a child that belongs to the losing side, finds... (108 mins.)
“ Black Bread begins as a young boy, Andreu, comes across the bodies of a father and son in the forest; leaning over the dying boy, Andreu hears him whisper “Pitorliu”—the name of a monster supposedly haunting local caves. But the real monsters in this brilliant adaptation of Emil Teixidor’s novel are the local Fascists, who keep close watch on the family of Andreu and other Republican sympathizers—and who think Andreu’s father might know more about these murders than he admits. Perhaps the finest film yet by Agustí Villaronga, one of the most creative and individual filmmakers of his generation, Black Bread is a stunning plunge into the world of Andreu, a young boy making his way through warring sources of truth and authority while dealing with all the expected adolescent urges and mysteries. ” - lowtempfizz
 
57.
Caracremada (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
"Caracremada" ("Burnface" in Catalan), a nickname given by the Spanish Civil Guard to Ramon Vila Capdevila... (98 mins.)
Director: Lluís Galter
“ “Caracremada” (Burnt Face) is the nickname that the locals have given Ramón Vila Capdevila, an anarchist hiding in the woods while he carries on a one-man guerilla campaign against the Franco regime. In 1951, the leaders of the anti-fascist resistance called an end to the armed struggle against the regime, but Caracremada simply ignored them. As a child, Danaide was fascinated by this shadowy, almost mythic figure; now an adult, she fights the temptation to somehow cast her lot with Caracremada and his struggle. For his first feature, director Lluís Galter has made a fascinating, unsettling work about how ideas about political engagement shift across generations. ” - lowtempfizz
 
58.
Chico & Rita (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey - in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero - brings heartache and torment. (94 mins.)
“ Academy Award–winning director Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque) teams up with one of Spain’s most famous designers and graphic artists, Javier Mariscal, to create this brilliant animated feature, a touching, toe-tapping celebration of Cuban music. The year is 1948: out on a nightclub crawl, Chico, one of the most promising young pianists in Havana, discovers Rita, a sultry, beautiful singer. The two will go on to fame together, but as in the sad lyrics of the boleros they perform so well, their love will have more than its share of trials and betrayals in the years ahead. Mariscal and Trueba have created a visual style that perfectly captures the rhythm and emotion of the music they both know and love so well. The film features an original soundtrack by Cuban jazz legend Bebo Valdés, as well as the music of Thelonious Monk, Cole Porter, and Dizzy Gillespie. ” - lowtempfizz
 
59.
The Consul of Sodom (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Fascinating journey through the life and work of the prestigious Catalan poet Jaime Gil de Biedma, both marked by sexuality and eroticism... (110 mins.)
“ “My poetry is the result of the invention of an identity. Once identity is assumed, nothing stimulates the imagination less than being what you are.” —Jaime Gil de Biedma

By day, Jaime Gil de Biedma (Jordi Molla) was a respected executive of a multinational corporation, scion of a well-connected Catalan family. But at night he would transform into an audacious homosexual poet, a member of la gauche divine (Barcelona’s artistic underground), as well as a sympathizer with communist causes. Sigfrid Monleón’s fascinating portrait of this controversial yet influential writer doesn’t shrink from presenting Gil de Biedma’s extraordinary contradictions or frequently tortured soul, while simultaneously offering a glimpse of clandestine gay life in the depths of Franco’s dictatorship. ” - lowtempfizz
 
60.
For 80 Days (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Where is the thin line that separates friendship from desire? After more than 50 years without seeing each other, two 70 years old women dare crossing the line. (104 mins.)
“ After her former son-in-law Mikel suffers a near-fatal car accident, Axun (beautifully played by Itziar Aizpuru) decides she must visit him—despite the opposition and lingering anger of her husband and daughter. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the middle of a party being thrown by Maite (Mariasun Pagoaga), the sister of Mikel’s comatose roommate. Repelled at first, Axun gradually finds herself drawn into the celebration, as the two women discover bonds and connections they scarcely imagined. The past decade has seen a very welcome re-emergence of filmmaking in the Basque region, with several recent productions playing well not only with local audiences but across Spain and beyond. Among them is this warm, unexpectedly upbeat tale of learning to accept emotions one can’t readily explain or understand. ” - lowtempfizz
 
61.
Elisa K (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
(71 mins.)
“ Winner of a Special Jury Prize at the San Sebastian film festival, Elisa K. follows a pretty, typical young girl who’s looking forward to her eleventh birthday that coming summer. There’s a new dress she just got, white with blue trim, for which she’s waiting for just the right occasion to wear. But despite her outward appearance, Elisa harbors a deep hurt and fears that she’s trying to express but doesn’t know when or to whom she can. Jordi Cadena and Judith Coll’s perceptive, sensitive portrait of coming to grips with a child’s traumatic experience avoids easy answers or pat models of behavior, instead focusing on the toll that Elisa’s experience takes on a whole network of family, friends, and others. ” - lowtempfizz
 
62.
Even the Rain (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
As a director and his crew shoot a controversial film about Christopher Columbus in Cochabamba, Bolivia, local people rise up against plans to privatize the water supply. (103 mins.)
Director: Icíar Bollaín
“ A huge wooden cross is carried by helicopter over the highlands of Bolivia; close behind is a film crew, led by producer Costa (Luis Tosar) and director Sebastian (Gael García Bernal), there to make a new film about Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. A call for native extras leads to a veritable flood of candidates, as the local population is desperate for work. But the drama of conquest and opposition about to be enacted for the movie is soon dwarfed by the real-life struggle of these extras and many others against the government’s efforts to take control of the local water supply. Working with Ken Loach’s screenwriter, Paul Laverty, Bollaín (Take My Eyes) has fashioned a perceptive look at Latin America and the historical patterns of oppression that continue to shackle the region. ” - lowtempfizz
 
63.
The Great Vazquez (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Is it possible to live aside of the system, thinking only about the present and oneself? A feature film about Manuel Vázquez... (106 mins.)
Director: Óscar Aibar
“ It’s summertime in 1960s Barcelona, and for Manuel Vázquez the living couldn’t be easier. Lauded as Spain’s top comic artist, he leads a free-wheeling and big-spending life that seemingly has no limits, charging expensive meals or hotel suites to his appreciative if long-suffering publisher. But then one day a sober accountant arrives at the publisher’s, and suddenly Vázquez finds creditors stalking his every hideout. Based on a real-life figure, El Gran Vázquez features a terrific performance from top comic actor Santiago Segura, his faced permanently cocked into a half smile as he thinks up another angle to avoid paying his bills. Throughout, the comic-strip characters Vázquez created—the Gilda Sisters, Anacleto, the Cebolleta Family—leap off the page and onto the screen offering their own bits of advice for him. ” - lowtempfizz
 
64.
Guest (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Filmmaker Jose Luis Guerin documents his experience during a year of traveling as a guest of film festivals to present his previous film... (124 mins.)
“ While touring festivals with his acclaimed film In the City of Sylvia, director José Luis Guerín decided to take a different, and provocative, approach to his role as a privileged, globe-trotting guest. Instead of sticking to the usual haunts, he ventured forth with his camera to seek out the unseen, unheard residents of these cities—including Havana, Paris, Seoul, and Sao Paolo. The result, marked by Guerín’s open mind and curious eye, upends your typical travelogue through engaging encounters with natural story-tellers and homegrown critics, from street poets in Bogotá to playful Palestinian boys—who want to know when the movie will air on television. ” - lowtempfizz
 
65.
In a Glass Cage (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In Spain, the former Nazi doctor Klaus tries to commit suicide jumping off the roof of his manor. However... (110 mins.)
“ Paralyzed from the neck down and only able to breath with an iron lung, former Nazi doctor Klaus (Günter Meisner) hides away in Spain, attended to by his faithful wife Griselda (the wonderful Marisa Paredes) and daughter (Gisela Echevarria). One day a young man, Angelo (David Sust), arrives, asking for a job as a nurse; although opposed by Griselda, Klaus feels compelled to take him on—setting off a wrenching, emotional struggle for power that will reveal the darkest secrets of Klaus’s past. Villaronga burst onto the Spanish film scene with this eerie, unnerving thriller, stark in its imagery of degradation and vice yet at the same time hypnotic, like a bad dream from which you can’t look away. Not for the squeamish, but not to be missed. ” - lowtempfizz
 
66.
Julia's Eyes (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The story of a woman who is slowly losing her sight whilst trying to investigate the mysterious death of her twin sister. (118 mins.)
Director: Guillem Morales
“ A welcome reunion of much of the team that put together The Orphanage, including producer Guillermo del Toro and the wonderful Belén Rueda. Although her twin sister’s death has been ruled a suicide, Julia (Rueda) suspects that something else triggered her death. Julia begins moving into the secret world of people and places that defined an unknown side of her sister’s life, despite the degenerative eye disease that increasingly fills the space around her with shadows and indistinct shapes. Director Morales expertly ratchets up the tension, often allowing us to experience the world as Julia does as we gradually realize that her blindness extends beyond her ability to see. ” - lowtempfizz
 
67.
Kidnapped (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Three hooded Eastern-European criminals burst into a home in a Madrid gated community, holding the family hostage in its own home, and forcing the father to empty his credit cards. (85 mins.)
“ A family is moving into a new house in one of Madrid’s new gated communities; they bicker about the placement of furniture and whether the daughter can go out that evening. Suddenly, their domestic routine is invaded by three masked men, wielding guns and demanding they hand over their valuables and empty their bank accounts. A sensation at this year’s Sitges Fantastic Film Festival, this taut, high-octane, grittily realistic thriller was shot in fewer than a dozen intricately choreographed sequence shots, giving the viewer the sense of real-time lived experience. ” - lowtempfizz
 
68.
The Last Circus (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A young trapeze artist must decide between her lust for Sergio, the Happy Clown, or her affection for Javier, the Sad Clown, both of whom are deeply disturbed. (107 mins.)
“ Water spurts from artificial flowers, oversized mallets crash down on unsuspecting heads, children howl with laughter—when suddenly the circus is invaded by a troop of Spanish Republican soldiers. It’s 1937, and everybody, even clowns, must choose sides. Alex de la Iglesia’s audacious new film perceptively dismantles several myths of the Civil War while recounting—with his customary outrageous humor and startling visual wit—this tale of performers forced to become historical actors. Winner of the Silver Lion at this year’s Venice Film festival, as well as Best Screenplay. ” - lowtempfizz
 
69.
Lope (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A chronicle of the life of Lope de Vega, the Spanish playwright who dominated Spain's early Golden Age of theater. (106 mins.)
“ Returning from stint as a solider abroad, the young Lope de Vega (newcomer Alberto Ammann) decides to at least temporarily hang up his sword and try his hand at writing. He demonstrates a talent for improving the work of others to theater owner Jeronimo Vazquez (Juan Diego), and eventually gets to author his own plays. His growing reputation attracts the attention of wealthy merchant Tomas de Perrenot (Miguel Angel Muñoz), who hires him to write love poems for his beloved, Isabel (Leonor Watling)—who happens to be the love of Lope’s youth. The life of Spain’s greatest playwright is brought to vibrant life in this beautifully detailed re-creation of 16th-century Spain and the world of Lope de Vega, author of an estimated 1,800 plays—not to mention over 3,000 sonnets. ” - lowtempfizz
 
70.
El mar (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Two boys (Ramallo and Manuel) and a girl in the Spanish Civil War are involved in the death of other two boys... (107 mins.)
“ Three friends—Francisca, Ramallo and Manuel—are off playing together when suddenly they come upon a firing squad. The time is the Civil War, and five prisoners are about to be executed—after each one is blessed by the local priest. This encounter will shatter their world, and mark all three children as they grow up and go their separate ways. Years later this trio will be reunited: at a tuberculosis hospital, where Francesca, now a nun, works as a nurse, and Manuel and Ramallo have been admitted as patients. Drenched in the bright sunlight of Mallorca, El Mar is nevertheless a film of deep shadows and unsettling, violent currents. The bond that had tied all three together has begun to come undone, promising explosive consequences. ” - lowtempfizz
 
71.
El niño de la luna (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Adopted by a treacherous semi-scientific cult where extraordinary mental powers are common, extraordinary 12-year-old David begins an archetypal journey across two continents to find his destiny as Child of the Moon. (118 mins.)
“ For centuries, a tribe in Africa has believed that one day a white boy, the “Son of the Moon,” will come to be their god. David, a 12-year old orphan who lives far, far away somewhere in Europe, is sure that he is that boy, and decides to go to Africa and fulfill his destiny. But first he must escape the institution in which he lives: a research laboratory to which “gifted” children from around the world have been sent to harvest their extra-sensory powers. A deft combination of kabbalah mysticism and apocalyptic sci-fi, Moon Child is gorgeously sensuous, moving between incredible sets as it charts David’s flight from servitude to deification. The terrific soundtrack is by the legendary Dead Can Dance. ” - lowtempfizz
 
72.
En el balcón vacío (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A woman who was a child refugee from the Spanish Civil War is now living as an adult in Mexico City. She tries to remember the traumatic events of her childhood. (48 mins.)
“ “Surely the most beautiful of all anti-Franco films.”—Lino Micciché, Avanti

Made in Mexico largely by Spanish exiles and children of exiles, On the Empty Balcony is often cited as the first Mexican experimental film, a work that plays with time and subjectivity. Settled in Mexico, a woman (María Luisa Elío, who also wrote the script) wrenched from her native Spain during the Civil War, revisits in memory the traumatic flight from her home. As a child, she witnessed a gun battle between a Republican partisan and two soldiers; projecting herself back into childhood, she re-experiences the fear and wonder of a child caught up in shattering adult events. This rarely screened masterwork was filmed with nonprofessional actors, many of them members of the “Nuevo Cine” group, including Colombian poet Alvaro Mutis (playing the undercover policeman in Pamplona), poet Tomás Segovia, novelist Juan García Ponce, and many other illustrious names. ” - lowtempfizz
 
73.
Paper Birds (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
The lives of a comics and artists group in the hard times after of Spanish Civil War. (122 mins.)
Director: Emilio Aragón
“ A ragtag vaudeville troupe wanders the back roads of Spain in the first years after the Civil War, having had everything taken from them save the hunger that nags them while they wonder where they might get their next meal. Their skills as musicians, ballad singers or ventriloquists don’t seem to count much, but somehow keeping the show going gives them a reason to carry on. Yet fortune has its own weird ways of working, and one day the troupe is summoned to perform for the most important audience of all: Generalissimo Franco—an invitation that forces each performer to reflect on his or her own life and politics. In his feature debut, director Aragón—a longtime mainstay of Spanish television—expertly sketches each of the individual stories that make up that of the troupe, bringing them together for an emotionally powerful finale. A major box-office hit, with Lluís Homar, Imanol Arias, and Carmen Machi. ” - lowtempfizz
 
74.
Stars to Wish Upon (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
(93 mins.)
Director: Mikel Rueda
“ Widow of a Spanish Republican, Victoria is incarcerated along with her son and her sister in Saturrarán, a former convent turned into the most notorious women’s prison in Franco’s Spain. The prison’s warden, called “the White Panther” by her terrified inmates, is a cold-eyed, steely nun who uses Saturrarán as a laboratory in which she can test the bizarre psychological theories of a certain “Dr. Vallejo.” Forcibly separated from her son—in order to break the “chain” of communist influence on him—Victoria and the others will struggle to keep their dignity and their sanity but will especially strive to be reunited with their loved ones. Recent information gleaned from archives as well as the testimony of those who managed to survive their time in Saturrarán have revealed the extent of psychological abuse, often under the guise of pseudo-scientific testing, that went on in Franco’s prisons. Mikel Rueda’s first feature is a tribute to those women who were robbed not only of their freedom, but of their families as well. ” - lowtempfizz
 
75.
“ On February 23, 1981, a group of about 200 Civil Guards, led by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero, burst onto the floor of the Cortes (the Spanish congress), firing guns and demanding that the King announce the end of Spain’s just emerging democracy. Chema de la Peña brings this watershed moment of Spanish history—whose reverberations can still be felt today—to vibrant life, moving from the conspirators to those who oppose them to the King, who prepares to make the most important speech of his life. ” - lowtempfizz
 
76.
“ Things haven’t been going so well for Ismael. A failed screenwriter, he’s put on weight, been abandoned by his girlfriend, and is down to his last Euros. What’s more, he’s the only witness to a crime, and the police want to put him in protective custody—that is, if Willy, the perp the police are trying to lock up, doesn’t get to him first. A fast and furious comedy with some delightfully unexpected twists and turns, as Ismael discovers how exciting life can be on the wrong side of the tracks. ” - lowtempfizz
 
77.
Barcelona, abans que el temps ho esborri (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
(93 mins.)
Director: Mireia Ros
“ A personal portrait of the 20th century, told through the photographs and other memorabilia left by one of Barcelona’s most successful and respected families. Through the Baladía family’s doors passed everyone from Nijinsky to Gardel. We meet some extraordinary characters, especially the women—such as Ramona Soler, one of the first woman to create her own factory, or Isabel Llorach, a major patron of the arts and the inspiration for a number of fictional characters. Writer Javier Baladía delves deeply into his extended family’s history, revealing the political and economic accomplishments alongside the shattered lives and secret love affairs, and offering a peculiar point of view on the private life of Barcelona’s elite during the “Golden Years” prior to the Civil War. ” - lowtempfizz
 
78.
Contactos (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
(70 mins.)
Director: Paulino Viota
“ A rare opportunity to see this little-known masterwork, recently restored by the Filmoteca in Madrid! A young woman from the provinces comes to stay in a rooming house with two men, with whom she seems to be involved in some kind of illegal business. As the men grow more secretive about their activities, the woman grows more fearful about what she’s stepped into. Completely self-taught, Paulino Viota made one of the first underground anti-Franco features. “One of the most important films of the Seventies.”—Noël Burch ” - lowtempfizz
 
79.
Cousinhood (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Three cousins travel to the village where they spent summer vacations as kids. (98 mins.)
“ Hours before he’s about to be married, Diego (Quim Gutiérrez) is left at the altar by his fiancée. What to do—should he try to win her back, or turn the page? While deciding, he sets off to Comillas, a tranquil town that was the site of his teenage summer holidays, in the company of two cousins—the fragile José Miguel (Adrián Lastra) and the rambunctious Julián (Raul Arévalo). And while there, he just might look up his first love, the lovely Martina. Columbia University grad Daniel Sánchez Arévalo (Dark Blue, Almost Black) returns with a terrific guy movie with heart, a wry and skillful dissection of competing ideas of Spanish manhood. ” - lowtempfizz
 
80.
Crebinsky (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
(85 mins.)
Director: Enrique Otero
“ In an isolated pocket of Galicia in the mid-Forties, the peaceful lives of the Crebinsky brothers are destroyed when torrential rains flood their village and wash them and their beloved cow Muchka miles away. Stranded by an old lighthouse, they try to make do—until one day Muchka disappears. Their search for her takes them back towards their old village—and to a world being torn apart by forces they can’t understand. A beautiful, fable-like film with touches of magic realism and slapstick silent comedy, Crebinsky creates the sense of a distinctive if long-lost world. ” - lowtempfizz
 
81.
Don't Be Afraid (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Silvia used to be a cheerful little girl until something happened when she was 8 years old. Nobody could understand the sudden change in her behavior. Now that she's 25, Silvia wants to settle scores with her traumatic past. (90 mins.)
“ Silvia, a young woman from a comfortable middle-class background, harbors a dark secret: since she was a child, her father has preyed upon her sexually. After years of living through it, she finally decides to confront her torment—and her tormentor. Montxo Armendáriz (Secrets of the Heart) offers a complex, multileveled exploration of the painful, unspoken subject of incest, aided by terrific performances by Belén Rueda, Lluís Homar, and newcomer Michelle Jenner as Silvia. ” - lowtempfizz
 
82.
The Double Steps (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
(86 mins.)
Director: Isaki Lacuesta
“ Winner of the Golden Conch (top prize) at this year’s San Sebastian Film Festival, Double Steps is a striking confirmation of the talent of Isaki Lacuesta (Los Condenados). His new film takes as its subject the remarkable artist François Augiéras, who ventured deep into the sands of the Sahara to create a work destined to be swallowed up by its desert surroundings. But who really is Augiéras? And what was his true mission in Africa? Lacuesta leads us from fact to fiction and then back again, offering a portrait of a man whose intention, like that of his artwork, was to disappear into his surroundings. ” - lowtempfizz
 
83.
“ Ramiro has just broken up with Andrea—no big dramatic scene, just a relationship that ran its course. Yet even if his heart tells him it’s finished, the world doesn’t want to cooperate: Ramiro finds reminders and echoes of the relationship everywhere he turns, in every song he hears, and especially in every woman he meets. Jonás Trueba—son of Fernando and nephew of David—makes an impressive debut with this charming romantic comedy, for which he received a Best New Director nomination at last year’s Goya Awards. ” - lowtempfizz
 
84.
Todos a la cárcel (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
In the celebration of the day of the political prisonner the victims of the Franco repression meet in the jail of Valencia... (99 mins.)
“ For his second-to-last film, Berlanga mischievously sets the action in the infamous Valencia prison—on a holiday organized in honor of political prisoners. A motley mix of political prisoners, Fascists, clergy, thespians, and clueless parvenus dine together for an unlikely gala dinner. But the strange mix gets stranger when a contractor in attendance makes a last-ditch gonzo attempt to collect payment from the State for installing bathrooms. Winner of the Goya awards for both Best Picture and Best Director. ” - lowtempfizz
 
85.
The Executioner (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
An undertaker gets married to an old executioner's daughter and, although he doesn't like it, must continue the profession of his father-in-law after his retirement. (87 mins.)
“ In Berlanga’s masterpiece, the local executioner (beautifully played by Pepe Isbert, a great Spanish comic) is heading towards retirement after years of doing little but collect a state salary. But there are two unfinished bits of business: who will marry his daughter, and who will replace him? The solution to both comes in the form of an undertaker, Jose Luis (Italian actor Nino Manfredi), who weds the excecutioner’s daughter and takes over his father-in-law’s duties and state salary. But suddenly the executioner’s job becomes terrifyingly real, as the authorities call him into service. Few can tread that thin line between dark comedy and tragedy more skillfully than Berlanga and screenwriter Rafael Azcona, and their work together here is superlative. Inspired by a number of brutal executions carried out by the Francoist government, and winner of numerous international awards, The Executioner is a powerful reminder of the high costs of institutionalized violence. ” - lowtempfizz
 
86.
Extraterrestrial (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Everyone knows what to do if one morning the sky would be absolutely full of UFOs: run as fast as you can. However, what would happen if the invasion started while you are in the flat of the girl of your dreams, the one you have just met? (95 mins.)
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
“ Coming off his marvelous debut with horror-tinged Timecrimes, Nacho Vigalondo here moves on to the alien invasion movie. Julio and Julia wake up next to each other; they’ve clearly had a tryst, but neither remembers much about it. To make matters worse, the Madrid skyline is dotted with alien spaceships, while Julia’s awkward neighbor, Angel, is acting more weirdly than ever. Once again, Vigalondo moves to the heart of the genre he’s manipulating, exploring the transformation of the external threat to the danger lurking within each of his characters. ” - lowtempfizz
 
87.
The Heifer (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A platoon of mismatched republican soldiers cross the front-line to steal the bull that the enemy is... (122 mins.)
“ Halfway through the Eighties, Berlanga pushed the envelope once again by directing the first comedy set during the Spanish Civil War. A group of Republican soldiers venture forth to steal a bull from pro-Franco forces, undermining a local festival in their attempt to procure food. But their operation soon goes awry, and a series of increasingly outlandish situations ensues. In Berlanga’s satirical treatment of war, only incompetence triumphs. ” - lowtempfizz
 
88.
“ As the Civil War was drawing to a close, the Republic sent over 3,000 children to Russia, along with nurses, doctors, teachers, and others to care for them. From the beginning, the relationship between the “Ispansi” (Russian for Spaniards) and their somewhat reluctant hosts was difficult, plagued by language differences, shortage of supplies, and increasingly by political disagreements. But after Hitler’s invasion, both hosts and guests found themselves struggling together to survive. Carlos Iglesias’s gripping new film tells a little-known chapter of Spanish history with grace and sensitivity to the complexity of the historical moment. ” - lowtempfizz
 
89.
José and Pilar (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
"José and Pilar," a documentary by Miguel Gonçalves Mendes, is a deeply moving story about love, loss and literature... (117 mins.)
“ Co-produced by Pedro and Agustín Almodóvar together with Fernando Meirelles, this affectionate portrait of Portugal’s Nobel Prize winner José Saramago reveals the struggle between the very private man and the world-famous artist. A modestly successful writer at home, he became an international literary giant through the prodding of his Spanish wife, Pilar del Rio. According to Saramago, “I have ideas for novels, and Pilar has ideas for life.” The film captures the media whirlwind that surrounds the Saramagos after the prize, as well as the quiet, tender moments the couple shared as his health began to fail. ” - lowtempfizz
 
90.
Grandeur nature (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Michel is a middle aged man with a troubled marriage. He feels lonely, has been unfaithful to his wife Isabelle in various occasions... (101 mins.)
Director: Luis Berlanga
“ In Berlanga’s fascinatingly twisted take on love, Michel Piccoli stars as a mild-mannered dentist who acquires a Japanese blow-up doll out of frustration with his marriage. The doll soon proves to be a source of fetishistic rapture, and before long the now-obsessed dentist is falling in love. Exquisitely shot and touched with the surreal, Berlanga’s meditation on modern isolation reminds us why grown-ups shouldn’t play with dolls. ” - lowtempfizz
 
91.
“ On the eve of his wedding in sun-drenched Sitges, a middle-aged banker abandons his ailing elderly mother to lust after an alluring beachgoer. Returning to find his dead mother floating in the pool, Leo (José Luis López Vázquez) and his brother go to absurd lengths to hide the body so as not to disrupt the wedding plans. One of many collaborations with screenwriter Rafael Azcona, Berlanga’s first film in color abounds with morbid and gleefully vulgar gags as Leo is driven to farcical distraction. ” - lowtempfizz
 
92.
La escopeta nacional (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Jaime Ganivel , Catalan manufacturer of mechanical porters , attends with her lover on a hunt to relate to important people. The farm where it is organized is full of strange characters. (95 mins.)
“ For his first film of the post-Franco era, Berlanga—again working with screenwriter Rafael Azcona—devised a wicked satire of the ruling classes, which is said to have been based partly on real incidents. Jaume, an unctuous Catalan businessman, is invited to the estate of the aging Marquis de Leguineche, who Jaume believes can grease the wheels for some government deals. The hunting party consists of movie stars, military men, members of the influential Catholic group Opus Dei, and assorted other hangers-on in the halls of power. Quickly, Jaume learns to manipulate their petty jealousies and revenge plots to his own advantage, while struggling to survive the weekend and go home. Shotgun became a great audience favorite, as Spaniards delighted in trying to discern the actual people to whom Berlanga’s characters corresponded; it also inspired several sequels that would keep Berlanga busy well into the Eighties. ” - lowtempfizz
 
93.
Placido (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
In a small spanish town, a group of old ladies decide to celebrate Christmas Eve with a "Sit a poor... (85 mins.)
“ Berlanga’s first collaboration with screenwriter Rafael Azcona was a jet-black comedy that was originally entitled Seat a Poor Person at Your Dinner Table before the film ran afoul of the censors. Plácido González, played by the great Catalan comedian Cassen, uses his tricycle to deliver fruit baskets for a local charity while trying to figure out how he can come up with the money to stave off debts. A bevy of local society women decides to take in beggars and other unfortunates, although they soon discover more about the objects of their charity than they’d like to know. Berlanga takes aim at the false piety on display, as acts of generosity are revealed to be little more than events on a social calendar. Hilarious situations and unexpected reversals abound, yet all the laughter can’t cover up the strong sense of outrage that courses through the film. ” - lowtempfizz
 
94.
The Rocket from Calabuch (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Professor Jorge Serra Hamilton, an American scientist specialist in the atomic bomb, flees from their transcendental duties... (93 mins.)
“ When a high-profile astrophysicist gives the government the slip in a seaside village, atomic-age paranoia and bucolic traditions get playfully shaken up. In Berlanga’s gently biting comedy of manners, the American nuclear scientist takes refuge in the idyllic town only to find himself among sneaky priests and idle fishermen. As Franco’s relationship with the U.S. is put into question, Berlanga gets laughs out of the fraught position of Spain’s military (whilst eerily anticipating the actual 1961 loss of an American warhead off the Spanish coast). ” - lowtempfizz
 
95.
That Happy Couple (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Good-for-nothing Juan marries Carmen to begin suffering what he thinks her and their friends' scorn at his proven inability to make a living, until he's lured to an apparent sound business that will for sure make them rich. (83 mins.)
“ In this satire of Franco’s economic policies, film technician Juan pursues get-rich-quick schemes while his sweepstakes-obsessed wife Carmen seeks an end to their financial woes through coupons and giveaways. But when they are chosen by a soap company to be “That Happy Couple” for one day — and get showered with gifts —they discover that money doesn’t solve everything. And it might even make things worse... Blending elements of Neorealism and theater, Berlanga and Bardem’s collaboration took aim at consumerism and the harsh socioeconomic realities of postwar Spain. ” - lowtempfizz
 
96.
Torrente 4 (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
The rude, lewd and crude Spanish ex-police officer Torrente finds himself facing jail time. Can he survive a twisted irony that places him where he has put so many others, both guilty and innocent? (93 mins.)
Director: Santiago Segura
“ The most successful series in Spanish film history continues with this latest entry in the saga of detective José Luis Torrente—overwrought, overfed, highly opinionated—who as we begin seems to be going through some kind of spiritual crisis. After trying, unsuccessfully, to walk the straight and narrow, he decides to accept a dodgy assignment working for a shifty old acquaintance, running security at a wedding. Be prepared for an onslaught of Torrente-style humor, as once again actor/director Santiago Segura takes no prisoners, taking aim at left, right, and center; the young, the old; the rich and the poor; and just about everyone in between. ” - lowtempfizz
 
97.
Welcome Mr. Marshall! (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
After finding out that North American people are visiting the Spanish villages, the citizens of Villar del Río start preparing themselves to welcome them when they arrive. (78 mins.)
“ One of the best loved of all Spanish films, Welcome, Mr. Marshall! begins as the local governor arrives in the sleepy Castilian town of Villar del Rio to announce that the U.S. Marshall Plan Commission—which is trying to decide if Spain deserved the economic credits and assistance offered to much of Europe at World War II’s end—will soon be making a visit. Desperate to impress the foreigners, the townspeople, led by their redoubtable and deaf mayor, come up with a plan of their own: they re-create the town as a picture-perfect tourist fantasy of Spain, complete with women in shawls, clicking castanets, and bullfighters—covering up the dire conditions in which they really live. Denounced as un-American by no less than actor Edward G. Robinson when serving on the jury at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival, Welcome, Mr. Marshall! is a delightful, good-natured romp whose real target is a Spain trying to figure out its identity in a rapidly changing world. The dream sequences, in which the townspeople imagine what they’d really like from the Americans, are priceless. ” - lowtempfizz
 
98.
Snow White (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A twist on the Snow White fairy tale that is set in 1920s Seville and centered on a female bullfighter. (104 mins.)
Director: Pablo Berger
“ Certainly one of the most imaginative takes on Snow White ever filmed, Spain’s nominee for this year’s Foreign Language Oscar chronicles the travails of a young girl, Carmencita, who is born soon after her matador father is terribly gored. Years later, living with her infirm father and wicked stepmother, Carmencita finds solace when she runs off with a band of bullfighting dwarves. Endlessly inventive, the film has a striking expressionist look and continues the ‘20s period feel of the story by having title cards instead of dialogue. A Cohen Media Group release. ” - lowtempfizz
 
99.
Sons of the Clouds (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A look at how colonization of the Western Sahara has left nearly 200,000 people living in refugee camps. (81 mins.)
Director: Alvaro Longoria
“ Produced by Academy Award-winning actor Javier Bardem, who also appears in the film as a kind of narrator/guide. Sons of the Clouds is a compelling plea about a largely ignored human rights catastrophe. A former Spanish colony abandoned in 1975, the Western Sahara was then invaded by Morocco; more than 200,000 people fled, and today continue to live in desperate refugee camps in the Algerian Sahara. The film powerfully captures the effects of this long-term displacement, as well as the thus-far fruitless attempts by the international community to address it. ” - lowtempfizz
 
100.
The Body (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A detective searches for the body of a femme fatale which has gone missing from a morgue. (108 mins.)
Director: Oriol Paulo
“ A night watchman flees a morgue and runs straight into an oncoming car. Now in a deep coma, he can’t tell why there’s now a body missing. That task falls to Detective Peña, who starts to question all those who knew the missing corpse (played in flashbacks by Belen Rueda)—especially her rather shifty husband, who may or may not hold the key to her disappearance. A crisp thriller that creates a hothouse, claustrophobic atmosphere, The Body keeps the viewer constantly off-balance as it heads to its chilling conclusion. ” - lowtempfizz