The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

An independent  language advantage film review by Andrea Martins

The Motorcycle Diaries is directed by Walter Salles and is based on the journals of Alberto Granado (played by Rodrigo De La Serna) and Ernesto Guevara (Gael Garcia Bernal). It is a story of adventure, discovery and friendship. The two friends leave their home town of Buenos Aires and embark on an eight month journey on a motorbike (the mighty one), which breaks down and consequently the friends then have to hitch rides. Along the way they meet a huge variety of people and begin their own journey of self discovery. They end up working in a leper colony and form friendships with both the doctors and the patients who will have a bigger impact on their lives than they could ever have imagined. The Motorcycle Diaries is a true insight into the life of Ernesto (Che) Guevara and is absolutely amazing. Gael Garcia Bernal is one of Mexico’s most talented actors and his portrayal of Guevara is spine tingling, he never fails to amaze and certainly doesn’t fail this time.

The film is in Spanish and gives a good insight into both Latin American Spanish and the geography and culture of South America.

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Frida (2003)

An independent  language advantage film review by Andrea Martins

This is a colourful and fragrant film depicting the life of the Mexican artist Frida Khalo. It tells the story of the young Frida (played by Salma Hayek), from growing up in early twentieth century Mexico right through to the end of her short life as an accomplished artist. Major events that took place in her life are depicted well: a horrific tram accident that caused her pain and suffering for the rest of her life, her marriage to the then highly acclaimed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (played by Alfred Molina), a miscarriage and their subsequent tempestuous relationship. The passion, vibrant colours and stunning cinematography portray Frida Khalo’s personality very well using surreal imagery that adds spice!

Although this film is in English, some Mexican language is used throughout the film adding authenticity. It also gives us an insight into Mexican society and culture at that time. With an outstanding cast including Antonio Banderas, Geofrey Rush, Valeria Golino and Edward Norton this is a definite must-see!

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L’Auberge Espagnole (2002)
The Spanish Apartment

An independent  language advantage film review by Sophie Patterson

This is a very student-y comedy drama about the life and loves and friendship of a group of young Europeans sharing a flat for a year in one of Europe’s trendiest cities – Barcelona. It mostly follows Xavier, a young Frenchman who moves in with six very different personalities and tries to get to grips with a new culture whilst dealing with an absent girlfriend, new friends, new experiences and a tempting new attraction all at the same time. It features Audrey Tatou as Xavier’s girlfriend.

Notable for its mix of languages; French, Spanish and English in particular, with even a brief comment on the importance of Catalan for the region, it takes a joyful and light-hearted look at cultural differences, living together and, of course, how to talk to your flat-mates’ parents in a language not your own. Anyone who’s done an Erasmus foreign exchange program will relate to the special bond forged between disparate nationalities over such a memorable year, but either way, you’ll find yourself wishing you could be one of them.

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Amores Perros (2001)
Love’s a Bitch

An independent  language advantage film review by Sarah Maddocks

Winner of Best Film at Cannes International Film Festival and nominated for an Academy Award, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu really excels himself in this film of Mexican life and dog fighting.

The film begins with a harrowing car accident which brings together the story of three characters; Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal), a young man caught up in the world of dog fighting and in love with his brother’s wife; Valeria (Goya Toledo), a model who moves in with her lover and discovers that looks are everything; and El Chivo (Emilio Echevarria) a former assassin whose family disowned him and who lives with his dogs as his only company. As the film develops so do the characters and we get a feeling of the desperation that they are feeling.

Amores Perros is a fantastic portrayal of Mexican life and the lengths that people are willing to go for love. It is a tale of Mexican life, loss and love. The Spanish is Mexican Spanish and therefore sometimes difficult to understand but with English subtitles you can even pick up a little Mexican slang, que chido! Definitely a must for all!

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Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)
And Your Mother Too

An independent  language advantage film review by Sarah Carroll

Y Tu Mama Tambien is one of the great movies to hit our cinema screens from the Spanish language cinema scene. A story of two bored teenagers who take to the road after a family gathering with a new acquaintance, inviting her to the beach. This award-winning film is funny, playful and, well, it deserves its 18 rating!

It has won a number of awards such as the Venice Film Festival in 2001.

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