I also don’t go to the movies because I hate hearing people chuckle, cough, or even breathe while I’m trying to follow a narrative. I’m anal like that. I need dead, serious silence. It drives my girlfriend crazy because, while hanging out in my living room, she’ll ask me simple question — even one that’s beneficial to me, such as “do you want more Valentina on your chips or not, motherfucker?” — and I’ll pause whatever we’re watching, knod vertically, and rewind the flick ten minutes with a very snooty attitude.
(Sorry, mi amortz, you know I’m crazy.)
But now you know how serious I am about dialogue, and the following movies have some of the funniest, smartest dialogue on Spanish-language film. Watch them, and if you have your own recommendations, please leave them in the comments.
1. El crimen ferpecto [2004, Álex de la Iglesia]
Álex de la Iglesia’s El crimen ferpecto [The ferpect crime] follows the adventures of Rafael González, a legendary salesman turned department store manager. Played by Guillermo Toledo, Rafael is a charlatan, but also a charming, smart, smooth-operating asshole. Then his connieving tricks are met with karmic justice. Yet, his character is so charismatic, the viewer will ultimately cheer for Rafael, even when he’s getting his well-deserved comeuppance. The humor is dark, but also very Spanish, so expect heavy doses of dry irony. The supporting cast is marvelous; all the characters are well-written and superbly acted. This is one of Alex’s least gory, and surreal movies, but script-wise, it’s his most solid.
2. Fresa y Chocolate [1994, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Juan Carlos Tabío]
Fresa y Chocolate [Strawberry and Chocolate] is very unfairly relegated to the gay movie ghetto when, if anything, it should be considered nothing short of a masterpiece. This film highlights all sorts of legit critiques against Castro’s regime while gracefully exploring love, friendship and camaraderie. Diego, one of the leads, is played by the ridiculously talented Jorge Perugorría, and makes for a fascinating character study. Witty, smart, stylish, and extremely funny, Diego is the ultimate third-world dandy. His neighbor, a manic-depressive retired whore, breaks down Latin American barrio kitsch to a science.
3. El esqueleto de la Señora Morales [1960, Rogelio A. González]
Back when it was released in 1960, El Esqueleto de la Señora Morales [The skeleton of Mrs. Morales] was vilified and blacklisted by conservative TV stations because of its criticism against the Catholic Church. The script is based on The Islington Mystery, a short story by Arthur Machen from 1927, and it’s a fascinating black comedy about a happy-go-lucky taxidermist, and his insufferable, melodramatic, fanatically religious wife. The film has great one-liners and a wicked twist. Although the full movie is available on YouTube, the files are poor DVD rips of an already poor DVD transfer, so do yourself a favor and pick up a real copy on eBay or Amazon, where they regularly appear for around $10.
4. La teta asustada [2009, Claudia Llosa]
Perfectly casted, edited and shot, La Teta Asustada [the Milk of Sorrow] is a 2009 film with many fancy awards, and it deserved every last one of them. It narrates the story of Fausta, a socially awkward girl, whose character is brought to life by Magaly Solier. Fausta has an odd habit of shoving a potatoes in her vagina, and the dialogue is not funny, per se, but this film is so magical that when the credits begin to roll, the protagonist’s veggie quirk won’t be the strangest thing about the film, and her plight will turn even the most callous among you into weeping, mental cases. As a bonus, the music is phenomenal, and it’s also the rare Latin American film that doesn’t fetisize Latin American poverty, even if the story is written almost entirely around it.
María Rubio was so good as Catalina Creel, an iconic telenovela villain, the role ruined her career
According to sources on Twitter, and also TvNotas, the holy bible of Mexican gossip, María Rubio, the legendary actress best known for her role as Catalina Creel de Larios in Cuna de lobos, has passed away. She was 83 years old.
Thanks to her role as Soraya Montenegro in María la del Barrio, Itati Cantoral has been dominating the internet with an insane amount of memes, gifs, and even a House of Cards promo special. Itati blew up in the mid ’90s, when older millennials were still teens, and she’s that generation’s go-to character when it comes to Mexican telenovela villains.
Yes, Cantoral was great as Soraya, but the top dog in the telenovela villain game was — and has always been — María Rubio. The Tijuana-born actress was so good in Cuna de lobos that, according to an interview she did with Cristina Saralegui, the role ruined her career:
“[Catalina Creel] was a difficult, beloved character. I enjoyed playing her, but she also hurt me a lot. People completely forgot about María Rubio and now it seems that, after 40 years of being an actress, I’ve only done Catalina Creel.”
Catalina, a murderous matriarch, was known for having some of the best one-liners in telenovela history. But in the same interview with Saralegui, which was filmed over 20 years ago, María proved to be just as cunning and smart as her infamous character, but also incredibly funny:
“[Although I played a villain], I’ve received nothing but compliments, love, and admiration. Never aggression. I think viewers do attack the bad ones — bad actresses, that is.”
If you understand Spanish, check out the hilarious interview below. Watch María viciously own everyone in a panel of full of young telenovela villains:
Traumatic advice from aunt Rosa: “Don’t torture your Care Bear, Mijo. Or else.”
I was 6 years old when I yelled at Tugs, my Care Bear. I put him in time-out for not agreeing to the rules of an imaginary game I had just created.
I built a little time-out fortress for him to stay in while I played with my other toys. Coincidentally my tía Rosa was visiting that day. I urged her to see all my toys when she came into the house. I also explained to her that Tugs was in time-out, to which she replied in shock, “Mijo, mira, You have to be nice to your toys.”
I replied, “Tía, I am nice to my toys, but I’m teaching him a lesson.”
She contested nervously, “No, Mijo, you have to be nice to your toys or they might not be nice to you.”
I wasn’t following her logic.
“Mijo, if you’re not nice to your toys, then at night time they might wake up and crawl into your bed to cut your toes with tiny razors,” she said slowly while staring at my imprisoned Care Bear.
“What?!” I whispered to her while looking at Tugs from the corner of my eye.
“Yes, your toys might do very bad things to you if you don’t treat them good.”
I stared at her in disbelief.
She stood up and walked towards the doorway.
“Mijo, I brought you some tortillas. Come in the kitchen and let’s warm them up,” Rosa said casually.
From then on, Tugs sat on a tufted pillow on my dresser while I slept in velcro shoes for the next year. Growing up in my Mexican-American family meant that everything was possibly alive and watching you.