I must be the go-to guy for Spanish-language films or something. A couple of weeks ago I was talking to some friends at a bar when one of the girls emphatically asked me if I had yet seen Pan’s Labyrinth. Upon confirmation she turned to the subject of Volver and asked if I had seen that. After I verified with her that, yes, I had in fact, she embarked on an uninterrupted discourse on how Volver was awesome but Y Tu Mama Tambien and Amorres Perros were even better and wondered how the director could make such different movies. Thus, she created an opportunity for me to bitch-slap her with the fact that the directors of Volver, Y Tu Mama Tambien and Amorres Perros are not only three completely different people, but their movies are set way way far away from each other. It felt good to do that.
Why would something like that annoy me? Is it because I am Hispanic, Spanish (Iberian-achem)? No. It’s because this was only one of a handful of incidents that have occurred since Spanish-language films or Spanish-speaking directors started getting the recognition they so rightly deserve. And also because I am the sh*t when it comes to movies. And finally because I am grateful for not having to read subtitles.
I decided thus to create an informative list for the populi genera that presents current films, country of origin, director and shizzle. Notice I keep using the term “Spanish-language”. That’s because we are not all Mexican!
1. Babel. Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mexico. It was just nominated for a Best Picture Oscar today. Announcer Selma Hayek sounded like she was going to cry; those crazy Mexicans and their communal pride. Iñárritu also directed 21 Grams and Amorres Perros. Damn, he’s good.
2. Pan’s Labyrinth. Dir. Guillermo del Toro. Another Mexican. Yeah, I know…two!? Wait for it, wait for it. He also directed Hellboy and The Devil’s Backbone. Don’t let the setting of Labyrinth and Backbone throw you off though. Both films are set in Spain but the director is Mejicáno.
3. Volver. Dir. Pedro Almodovar, Spain. Finally, a European! Phew, I was starting to get nervous. Almodovar is in a class all his own. His movies include All About My Mother, Talk to Her and Bad Education.
4. Children of Men. Dir. Alfonso Cuarón, Mexico. This is it guys, the dude who directed Y Tu Mama Tambien. He’s mad Mexican…also. BUT, Children of Men is in English. Don’t be scared. Cuarón also directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He looks white. That’s because he is.
Shall I keep going? Ok.
5. Maria Full of Grace. Dir. Joshua Marston, Colombia/USA. GOTCHA! Marston’s a Jew. An American Jew. Though there are quite a few Jews in Latin America. I kid you not.
6.Abre los Ojos. Dir. Alejandro Amenábar, Spain. Amenábar is half-Chilean and half-Spanish. Abre los Ojos is the original Vanilla Sky. Crowe, an American, turned it into a Tom-Cruise-piece-of-sh*t. The original will creep you out. Amenábar also directed The Others and The Sea Inside.
And now for some Spanish-speaking actors and their Spanish-speaking nationalities:
- Penelope Cruz. Spanish.
- Gaél Garcia Bernál. Mexican.
- Salma Hayek. Proud Mexican.
- The chick from Maria Full of Grace. Colombian. Oh, really?
- The chick from Y Tu Mama Tambien. Spanish. She’s also in Pan’s Labyrinth.
- Benicio del Toro. Puerto Rican. Ok, something different. But Puerto Rico is in the US. Whadahfah!? Also, not related to Guillermo. Is Woody Allen related to Debbie Allen?
- Antonio Banderas. Creepy.
- Madonna. Used to want to be Puerto Rican in the 80’s but settled for playing an Argentine in the 90’s.
- Javier Bardem. Spanish. But he’s played an Argentine. In Before Night Falls he was Cuban, but so were Johnny Depp and Sean Penn. Hilarious!
- Jennifer Lopez. Ghetto.
- Cameron Diaz. Half-Cuban with some Spanish but to me she looks extraterrestrial.
- The Cast of City of God. Brazilian. They don’t speak Spanish, they speak Portuguese. I swear!
- Helen Mirren. Afro-Cuban.
This list could be endless really. Tip of the iceberg, folks, the tip. But I thought I’d present just a few…you know, set things straight.
Incidentally, I am thinking of bringing back the accent over the E in my first name.
Viva la patria!
César. Costa Rican.
and as a side game: play connect the photo dots (odd ones out and all) below: