Monday, March 14, 2011


Not really film noir in the classic sense and much less Mexican noir, Matador is nonetheless a quirky little hitman movie containing a few pivotal scenes which actually take place in Mexico City. In fact it may not be too much of an exaggeration to say that Mexico City is the best part of the film, as the movie makes it seem such a cool place to visit, or to live in, for that matter. 
Anyway, Matador provides another cast-against-type star vehicle for Pierce Brosnan. Portraying an edgy assassin with an unkempt  appearance, Brosnan is indeed the film’s titular matador. His character is mirrored by the real-life matador in the film, but my limited (to say the least) expertise on the subject of bullfighting precludes my saying anything very insightful as to the scenes'  true-to-life accuracy. Suffice to say that to me they they seemed highly effective and authentic.
Aside : I wonder if they ever compiled a list of the best bullfighting films - a Googling of the terms as well as a glance at the Amazon listmanias reveals no such listing for matador/bullfighting films. However, there are indeed numerous compilations of best assassin movies.  Anyway, here’s my uninformed contribution as to the most likely suspects in the cinematic toreador pantheon : The Sun Also Rises, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, Snows of Kilimanjaro, Blood and Sand.

In any case, Matador’s other strengths include the fast pacing, well-measured editing, and fine supporting cast, especially the redoubtable Philip Baker Hall as Brosnan’s suavely sinister handler. A minor criticism would be the story’s somewhat murky ending. But ultimately for me the acting of Brosnan and the colorful Mexican settings carry the day in this appetizing little slice of neo-noir [1]. 

  [1] Matador has been much reviewed, with most of the notices being favorable. My favorite is Andrew O’Hehir’s take in Salon.

[The Weinstein Company, Miramax Films, Stratus Film Company and DEJ Productions present, in association with Equity Pictures, a Furst Films/Irish Dreamtime production, in association with Arclight Films. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis, Philip Baker Hall, Dylan Baker, Adam Scott. Directed and written by Richard Shepard; produced by Pierce Brosnan, Beau St. Clair, Sean Furst and Bryan Furst; music by Rolfe Kent; director of photography, David Tattersall; production designer, Rob Pearson; costume designer, Catherine Thomas; film editor, Carole Kravetz-Aykanian.]

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