Recently I’ve picked up Spanish as a new language. It’s self-study, so no contact with other Spanish speakers. Lessons are progessing smoothly, but I noticed that spoken Spanish is very different to written Spanish. The Spanish swallow al lot of letters and syllables and I really need some practice with the spoken language.
So I’m looking for films or series that I can watch that help me get a grip of the language. Preferably not a movie with too much street language (i.e. a Spanish equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino movie might not help me very much).
Also, if someone can recommend me some literature for a beginner, that’s helpful too.
I can’t really tell whether they’ll help you learn very well - I’m not that good at Spanish myself - but there’s Pedro Almodóvar’s films, such as Hable con Ella, I’d recommend those. I find that at my very basic level of Spanish I can typically follow the conversation fairly easily if there’s subtitles, and with slightly less ease (but still with at least some understanding) without them. Another film that (for me) falls in that category of understanding is El Mariachi (Robert Rodriguez).
Rodriguez later made the much bigger films ‘Desperado’ and ‘Once Upon a time in Mexico’, which were in English, were sequels to El Mariachi and revolved around the same kind of theme, but instead of shooting in Spanish, with a low budget and using unknown actors, these later two films were in English with multi-million dollar budgets and with actors such as Johnny Depp and Antonio Banderas.
Another film that I enjoyed is Argentinian: Las Nueve Reinas. The Argentinian Spanish is harder to follow though.
I know Pan’s Labyrinth, from before I started Spanish, but I don’t think that’s a very useful film. I don’t think I should expand my vocabulary with fantasy words just yet. I have trouble enough distinguishing llueva (it rains) from lleva (take with you).
It doesn’t have fantasy words. I thought the Spanish was very well spoken, and good. It wasn’t so fast as other languages (Argentinian, Caribbean Spanish are spoken faster). The accent wasn’t too bad.
If you’re having trouble with such words, have you considered listening to music instead? You can google the letters of many songs easier than finding the movie scripts, and it can help you with the accents.
Colloquial Spanish, no matter the part, I’m guessing, will to a higher or lesser degree, swallow letters.
Consider the stupid following sentence: “Mis abuelos están esperando por mi mamá para salir a comer.” (My grandparents are waiting for my mom to go out and eat).
It could transform to the following: “Misabuelo’ tán esperando por mápa’ sali-‘acome’.” And spoken faster than that. The " ’ " are trying to denote something known as “h-aspirada”, used when some letters are omitted (common in Caribbean Spanish).
Julio Medem has made quite a few worthwhile films worth exploring, most notably Vacas and Lovers from the Arctic Circle. I also contain a soft spot for The Other Side of the Bed, a sex-music-comedy with lots of beautiful naked people (and even the songs are fairly easy to follow, language comprehension-wise)
I’m limiting my list to movies that are available on Region 1 DVD.
• Macario (1960), a fantasy fable set in Mexico, from a novel by B. Traven (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre).
• Viridiana (1961), directed by Luis Buñuel. A young nun about to take her final vows pays a visit to her widowed uncle at the request of her Mother Superior. Trailer.
• The Exterminating Angel (1962), directed by Luis Buñuel, a political allegory and absurdist comedy. Trailer.
• I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba) (1964), directed by Mikhail Kalatozov. Trailer.
• Tristana (1970), directed by Luis Buñuel, starring Catherine Deneuve as an orphan who is raised by her uncle in Toledo, Spain. Trailer.
• Carmen (1983), directed by Carlos Saura. A flamenco adaptation of the famous story. Not much dialogue, but terrific dancing. Clip.
• El Norte (1983), directed by Gregory Nava. Mayan peasants flee north to the USA after their village is destroyed by the Guatemalan army. Trailer.
• Camila (1984), a story of illicit lovers in 19th century Argentina.
• The Official Story (1985), directed by Luis Puenzo, starring Norma Aleandro, about the consequences of Argentina’s “dirty war” against its people. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
• Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), comedy written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, starring Carmen Maura and Antonio Banderas.
• Belle Époque (1992), directed by Fernando Trueba, starring Penelope Cruz, about a wealthy family in Spain in the early 1930s. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
• Strawberry and Chocolate (1994), a comedy about sexual politics set in Cuba in 1979.
• Secrets of the Heart (1997), a Spanish film written and directed by Montxo Armendáriz.
• The Grandfather (El abuelo) (1998), a Spanish film. Trailer.
• Tango (1998), written and directed by Carlos Saura. Trailer.
• Amores Perros (2000). Trailer.
An ancient device grants immortality, but at a price. Is it worth paying? And what does being human mean anyway? Features Ron Perlman. It’s an art film. It’s a vampire film. It’s one helluva good film.