Video Business: The Matador By Irv Slifkin 5/22/2006
Story Line: Julian Noble (Brosnan), a burned-out hit man, befriends salesman Danny Wright (Kinnear) in a hotel bar in Mexico City. Noble tells the Wright about his occupation and soon enlists the salesman to help out on a job. Eventually, Noble depends on Wright to navigate him through a mid-life crisis.
Bottom Line: Brosnan plays the anti-James Bond in this engaging, down-and-dirty dark comedy. He sizzles as a slick but desperate assassin, looking to befriend the mild Kinnear and his wife (Davis). Some of the bits in this surprise-filled tale are priceless, particularly Brosnan's walk through a luxury hotel clad in only a Speedo and cowboy boots. Though The Matador proved to be too arty for mass audiences and a little too mainstream in subject and tone for the arthouse crowd, this film is sure to find a strong DVD following upon release. Future cult status is certain.
Color, R (mature themes, language, sexual situations, violence), 96 min., DVD only $28.95
Street: July 4
DVD: director/cast commentaries, featurette, deleted and extended scenes
Review of the French version of the DVD at DVDRAMA
No commentaries or deleted scenes. Just a couple of interviews.
Special features on the UK DVD
When submitted to the BBFC the work had a running time of 22m 48s. This work was passed with no cuts made.
00:07:18:16 MAKING THE MATADOR 00:03:44:14 DELAYED AT THE AIRPORT IN DENVER 00:00:21:21 ON THE WAY TO MEXICO 00:04:30:16 JULIAN'S BIRTHDAY NIGHT OUT AT THE SEX CLUB 00:02:36:24 MR. STICK IS UPSET 00:01:07:16 BEAN REMEMBERS HER SON 00:00:30:18 JULIAN & DANNY TRAVEL TO TUCSON FIRST CLASS 00:01:54:18 JULIAN & DANNY FLASHBACK 00:00:42:18 JULIAN'S NIGHTMARE VISION
+ Commentary by Richard Shepard
Special Features on the U.S. DVD:
Further Details: Available in separate (2.35:1) Anamorphic Widescreen and Full Screen Editions, the DVD features include:
· Making The Matador · 11 Deleted & Extended Scenes With Optional Commentary by Director Richard Shepard
Delayed at the Airport in Denver
On the Way to Mexico
Julian's Birthday Night Out at the Sex Club
Julian Turns On Danny
Julian's Distraction at the Outdoor Cafe
Julian's Budapest Romp
Mr. Stick Is Upset
Bean Remembers Her Son
Julian and Danny Travel to Tucson First Class
Julian and Danny Flashback
Julian's Nightmare Vision
· Feature Commentary With Director Richard Shepard · Feature Commentary With Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear & Director Richard Shepard · Director Richard Shepard On The Radio - "Sundance Rollercoaster" from NPR's The Business and Richard Shepard on KCRW's The Treatment with Elvis Mitchell · Theatrical Trailer · TV Spot
Killers, colonials, and the actual work involved in looking fabulous.
By Katie Becker, Roger Downey, and Brian Miller
The Matador Weinstein Co., $27.98
Richard Shepard's comedy-thriller is such a profoundly dishonest piece of work that I am almost ashamed to admit how much I enjoyed it. But I have an excuse, and his name is Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan plays Julian Noble, a hit man suffering a midlife crisis, and his performance is not only his best ever, it's the kind of performance (like James Cagney's in One . . . Two . . . Three!) that makes a bad movie not just good enough but essential.
The plot of Matador is sort of The American Friend played for laughs: Ordinary guy gets entangled with a lethal psychotic who won't leave him be. The ordinary guy in this case is Greg Kinnear, who can play jittery foil in his sleep, but Brosnan drives the film forward with his ferocious energy, his willingness to take it to the edge in every scene. He's so mesmerizing that glorious moments keep popping into your consciousness for hours after watching.
That's bad luck for the film, because as soon as you think about the plot, the whole thing dissolves like tissue paper decorations in a rainstorm. In retrospect, you see how slapdash is its structure, how choppily it's edited, how unfairly it plays on our expectations. Somehow it doesn't matter; Shepard's film (he wrote it as well) is dishonest, but Brosnan shoots straight and true. And in the few quiet moments where we might begin to suspect we're being messed with, we have Hope Davis (as Kinnear's decorously lusty wife) to keep us from noticing the man behind the curtain. --- ROGER DOWNEY
Another hitman comedy that stands up nicely to the ones seen in recent years ("Mr. and Mrs. Smith", "Grosse Pointe Blank"), "The Matador" stars a shabby Pierce Brosnan as Julian Noble, a worn-out hitman who wakes up and begins to take a look at his life on his latest birthday. While he wants to take a break, he's worried that one vacation will get him replaced.
Early on, Julian finds himself setting next to Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) at a bar in Mexico City. The two become quick buddies, chatting away about their lives over drinks, with Danny (who recently lost his son, whose career is in the dumps and whose marriage is close behind) not being any wiser about what his new friend does for a living.
Soon after, Noble decides to invite Danny - a nice, bland everyguy - to a bullfight, where he proceeds not only to tell him what he does for a living, but to actually show Danny how the business works in something of a rehearsal. Julian, in his own way, is lonely and just trying to make a friend. Danny, on the other hand, is fascinated and then a bit horrified by the presentation.
The two go their separate ways and think they'll never see each other again. However, cut to months later, when Julian turns up on Danny's doorstep, telling him that he's arrived after having a nervous breakdown and may be in trouble - and that Danny's his only friend. To say anything more would ruin the film's surprises.
Brosnan, who, once again, should have never been dropped as Bond if he didn't choose to leave the part - turns in a terrific performance as Noble, constantly looking hungover, but constantly acting as if he doesn't care what anyone thinks. Brosnan and Kinnear make a surprisingly good buddy team and play off each other better than I would have thought, as Kinnear manages to play the everyguy without making it bland. Supporting performances from Davis and Phillip Baker Hall (as Julian's handler) are terrific, as well.
"Matador" works as well as it does thanks to the performances, but also due to fine writing and direction from Richard Shepard, who offers up some very funny lines and handles the tone well, balancing the comedy with a bit of drama here-and-there. Despite similar movies in the past, "Matador" certainly has a few twists. The ending seemed rather abrupt and the humor has a few off moments, but "Matador" is largely entertaining and Kinnear and Brosnan form an unexpectedly good buddy team.
VIDEO: "The Matador" is presented by Genius Home Entertainment in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Aside from a few minor issues on occasion, the picture quality was largely stellar. Sharpness and detail were terrific, with only a couple of slight moments that seemed softer than the rest.
As for concerns, some minor edge enhancement appeared and a couple of minor artifacts were seen. Otherwise, the picture looked consistently clean and clear, with no print flaws or other problems. Colors remained bright and vibrant, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: "The Matador" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's audio suprised me, as although the movie is mostly dialogue-driven, there are some moments where sound effects come with a surprising amount of deep bass behind them. Music also sounded crisp, clear and punchy throughout. Surrounds didn't kick in often, but they certainly were employed when the material called for it. Dialogue sounded natural, as well.
EXTRAS: Writer/director Richard Shepard offers an audio commentary of his own and he's joined on an additional audio commentary by actors Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan. The director's commentary provides some good information, as Shepard discusses working with a low budget, working with the actors, trying to do things simply and quickly, locations and stories from the set. The second commentary is more for fun, as the two actors joke and chat about their time on-set while the three chat about their feelings on the final product.
Additionally, we get a brief 7-minute "making of" documentary, 11 deleted scenes with optional commentary from Shepard, two radio interviews with Shepard, the trailer and a TV spot.
Final Thoughts: It's the first movie I've seen in a while that feels too short: "The Matador" has a couple of moments where the humor misses, but the film is carried quite well by the unexpectedly good match-up of Brosnan and Kinnear. The DVD offers solid audio/video quality, along with a nice set of supplements. It's a definite rental recommendation.
Film Grade The Film B+ DVD Grades Video 92/A Audio: 89/B+ Extras: 85/B
Well.... I just saw a commercial for the DVD. It's so obviously being marketed as an action thriller. Gone is the catchy Jam music and explosions are the soundtrack. It managed to have the car explosion shown about three different times (the flames match the DVD cover- Bah!) and the rest was Pierce opening his gun case, cocking his gun, setting up his rifle and his voice saying "My business is my pleasure".
At least there was one shot of him with a hooker and Ebert's quote that it's his best performance ever. No mention of course that it's a Golden Globe nominated performance because they might have to use the word "comedy".
In writer/director Richard Shepard’s cheeky black comedy "The Matador" Pierce Brosnan takes a running stab at his former iconic image as James Bond by playing a worldly, insecure and immature contract killer. Julian Noble (Brosnan) is an eccentric omnisexual hit man with a knack for a dirty joke. While on assignment in Mexico he meets straight-laced Denver businessman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) and the two men strike up an uncomfortable conversation that will lead to an uncomfortable friendship which will eventually end up saving each man’s life, or lifestyle at least. Pierce Brosnan plays the last of a dying breed, hence the film’s title, but he’s also an actor who can slap his audience and kiss them in the same breath. Special features include commentary with Richard Shepard, Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan, a short making-of featurette, 11 deleted/extended scenes, two Richard Shepard radio show appearances, and theatrical trailer. Aspect ratio is 2.35:1, with sound quality processed in 5.1 Dolby Digital. (Movie - Four Stars, DVD features – Three Stars) Rated R, 97 mins. (Weinstein Company)
With Pierce Brosnan’s standout performance as a debauched and burnt out assassin, THE MATADOR ($29) proves to be one heck of a dark comic delight. Brosnan adds an unmistakable charm to the character of Julian Noble, who is something like James Bond, if he had gone to seed, and were also minus the class, polish and style of the world’s most famous secret agent. A self described "facilitator of fatalities," Julian’s latest job brings him to Mexico City on his birthday, where he starts showing signs of a midlife crises. During his down time, Julian encounters struggling American businessman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear), who is also in Mexico City on business. Their chance encounter in the hotel bar leads to a burgeoning friendship between the two men. While taking in a bullfight together, Julian reveals his chosen profession Danny, who is fascinated by his new friend’s stories and live demonstration of how Julian conducts business.
THE MATADOR then flashes forward several months, Danny has returned home to Colorado, and is more than a bit surprised when an unexpected late night visitor shows up at his front door. As it turns out, Julian’s mid-life crisis, has given rise to a series of panic attacks, which has made it impossible for Julian to get the job done on more than one occasion. Of course, Julian’s employers are less than happy with his performance and want to "terminate" his employment. Having the opportunity to square himself with his employers, Julian has to do one last job… But he is going to need Danny’s help to get it done. The cast of THE MATADOR also features Hope Davis and Philip Baker Hall.
The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment has made THE MATADOR available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a truly excellent looking transfer that delivers a crisp, well-defined image. Colors are quite vibrant and everything appears completely stable, even with the film’s reliance on intensely saturated gaudy hues for the Mexican sequences. Additionally, the flesh tones appear wholly natural. Blacks are pure, whites are clean, plus both shadow detail and contrast are excellent. The film elements used for the transfer are virtually pristine and there is little apparent grain during the presentation. Digital compression artifacts are always very well concealed.
THE MATADOR comes with a very solid Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Much of the film is on the talky side; but there are moments where the track comes to life with a definite punch. The sound design also makes good use of the outlying channels, for mild effect, as well as ambient and musical fill. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. As for the bass channel, it is quiet most of the time, but when it makes its presence known, it has a surprising kick. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English and Spanish subtitles are provided.
Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few supplements. The DVD includes two separate running audio commentaries, the first features writer/director Richard Shepard, while the second includes Shepard again with the addition of actors Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear. Next we have a seven-minute Making The Matador featurette, plus eleven Deleted And Extended Scenes with optional commentary by Richard Shepard. Two radio programs are contained in the section entitled The Business & The Treatment. A TV Spot, Theatrical Trailer and bonus trailers for other Weinstein Company titles close out the supplements.
As I stated above, THE MATADOR is dark comic delight that benefits from Pierce Brosnan’s standout performance. The Weinstein Company’s DVD looks and sounds quite marvelous, making the best way to see the film, this side of a movie theater of high definition. Recommended.
DVD The best buddy films have an undeniable chemistry based on the notion that opposites attract.
Watching the easy chemistry of Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear in "The Matador" brings to mind some of the other great buddy pairings of the past few decades.
Like the best of odd couple movies, "The Matador" (available today on DVD, $28.95) builds on opposites: Brosnan is a formerly dashing international assassin now gone to seed. He leers in all directions, but the gun isn't loaded, if you catch the drift.
Kinnear is a Denver-based businessman with a quiet home life and a confidence gap. They each admire something in the other, though at least one of them is wise enough to know they shouldn't swap lives.
In buddy flicks such as these, the alpha male wants to settle down, and the domesticated male wants to get in touch with his wild side. Together, the partners make one whole personality, and the viewer can probe his own brain to see which traits need more time in the spotlight.
"The Matador" will be a pleasure to anyone who enjoyed the arch bickering between Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin in "Midnight Run," a classic marriage of buddy-pig and road movie.
"Planes, Trains and Automobiles" also puts an odd couple on the road, emphasizing the physical comedy of John Candy and Steve Martin more than the action-intrigue of "Matador" or "Midnight Run." "Sideways" gave the comic road trip more angst, and a lot more alcohol, as Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church resist the world's demands that they grow up.
The original "Lethal Weapon" peppered the odd couple formula with heavy-caliber police gunfire, pitting Mel Gibson's antics against Danny Glover's unremitting exasperation.
But of course the standard for modern pal pictures was reset in 1969, with "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." Robert Redford and Paul Newman seemed to have so much fun making the horse opera, we couldn't help but love watching it.
In a commentary recorded with Brosnan and Kinnear, "Matador" writer-director Richard Shepard explains that the first scene he penned set two wildly different characters at a bar, long before he had a plot. Shepard said he had no idea Brosnan's character would be an assassin when he started writing; he only knew the man's habit of speaking outrageous truths to relative strangers would both alarm and intrigue Kinnear's character.
A bonus with "Matador" is an artistic sensibility few other odd-couple movies bother to attempt. Cinematographer David Tattersall, who previously shot two "Star Wars" and "The Green Mile," makes "The Matador" pop and snap with color. Tattersall's admiring eye for the modern, energetic spots of Mexico City will make you want to sip a margarita south of the border - even if you have to drink alone.
DVD commentary tracks are a dime a dozen these days. And most of them are pretty pedestrian. But there are a handful that are very good and an even smaller handful that are excellent.
It's really rare when you find a very good one and an excellent one on the same disc. But that's what you get on the DVD of writer-director Richard Shepard's comedy-thriller "The Matador" (Genius Products, $28.95).
Pierce Brosnan, playing against his suave James Bond image, stars as international hit man Julian Noble, who finds that he's not only losing his touch but that he's also very lonely. In Mexico on assignment, he meets Danny, (Greg Kinnear), a struggling American businessman. After a shaky start, the two become friends. Six months later, Julian shows up on the doorstep of Danny and his wife (Hope Davis), and the unlikely friendship is put to the ultimate test.
The DVD of "The Matador" is loaded with great extras. There are a short but interesting behind-the-scenes documentary, 11 deleted or extended scenes with optional commentary by Shepard, two radio interviews with Shepard, the trailer and a TV spot.
But the real treats here are the two commentary tracks. The first, with just Shepard, is excellent. It's a virtual study in how a writer-director goes about creating his first major film. (Shepard had directed several low-budget films in Europe.) With self-deprecating humor, Shepard tells how he went about creating a film that he thought would be a thriller with some laughs but discovered it really was a comedy with some thrills.
Some of the other things Shepard relates include how you make a film that has locations ranging from Denver to Manila entirely on location in Mexico; how a costume designer can help create a character by making all the shirts and jackets Brosnan wore a half-size too small and how you make a film on a low budget and have it come out so good.
The second commentary track has Shepard, Brosnan and Kinnear talk and joke as they reminisce about making this off-the-wall and moving film about the need for friends.
Bonus Disc:(Over One Hour of additional Bonus Features!)
E Special: Behind the scenes: The Matador
E! Entertainment Television takes you behind the scenes of the fast-paced action movie The Matador. Exclusive, in-depth interviews with Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear reveal how their characters formed a surprising and deadly partnership. Plus, find out why Brosnan would walk across a hotel lobby in his underwear and cowboy boots - and nothing else!
Follow the Matador to the Toronto Film Festival
Join Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, and director Richard Shepard at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival for an illuminating conversation. Discover the film's origin, the inspiration for its title, and other secrets behind The Matador in this exclusive footage.
Post by willowgarden on Jul 4, 2006 22:58:30 GMT -5
Thanks to Ace, I ran out and bought the Walmart set with bonus disk today. The E! interview was interesting and had some of the same lines as the Making The Matador featurette. I had not seen the entire Toronto segment before, so this was a treat.
The cheesy photo where PB's neck looks stretched is on the cover of the bonus disk.
That photo looks to be on the back of the main DVD as well -- though not as stretched it's still --ugh.
Warning to anyone planning to rent the DVD. I've read several reports that the rental versions at least at Blockbuster (this might be different with Netflix and other stores) do not have any of the extra material. No commentary and no deleted scenes.
Very odd. Either there was material on it Blockbuster found offensive (not a first -- sometimes they've refused to rent unrated films) so they are only allowing a renting of the bare bones disc or it's way Weinstein/Genius is getting people to buy and not rent if they want extras.
Chris Knight, National Post Published: Saturday, July 08, 2006
Actors are in-the-moment people: They show up on set, deliver their lines and move on to the next project. By the time a film is released, the stars may already have shot one or two more.
Greg Kinnear, however, was working long after the cameras stopped rolling on The Matador, a movie about a vulgar hitman (Pierce Brosnan) who befriends a mild Denver businessman (Kinnear) while both are in Mexico on very different jobs.
Writer/director Richard Shepard says in the commentary that he cut a scene in which Brosnan's character admits he lied about being a widower. This also necessitated cutting the scene in which he tells the lie. "We ended up locking [finalizing the edit of] the picture with this scene gone and we sent the tape to Kinnear ... and he called back saying, 'What the f--- have you done? You have ruined the movie.' " The actor explained that without the heartfelt fabrication, his character has no reason to feel for the assassin.
"We unlocked the picture at some expense to put that stuff back," Shepard says, "and I don't regret it at all."
It's safe to say The Matador would still succeed, if not as well, had the scene been lost. The bizarre comedy-thriller features Brosnan as a killer who's about as far from his James Bond character as one could imagine. He lusts after young girls but is also sexually ambiguous, eschews tailored suits in favour of open-necked loungewear half a size too small, and swears openly and colourfully. (One of his more printable epithets, and one Brosnan reportedly enjoyed saying, was when Kinnear's character tells him that margaritas taste better in Mexico. He nods agreement and replies, "margaritas and c--k.")
That the film was even made is something of a lucky break. Shepard had sent the script to Brosnan's production company, Irish DreamTime, in hopes of getting a writing job on the sequel to The Thomas Crown Affair. Instead, he got an offer to direct the film, with Brosnan himself in the lead. The actor, who in one scene literally throws himself feet-first into playing against type, says that if the script had gone through his agent, he never would have seen it.
It's lucky he did. Brosnan and Kinnear turn in excellent performances, even though three weeks before filming, Brosnan briefly backed out, suffering a similar crisis of faith as his character: "Can I really do this?" Hope Davis as Kinnear's wife was pregnant, which explains both her billowy wardrobe and her radiant glow. "She was also pretty sick," Kinnear notes. It was one of the best, yet least-noticed, films of 2005, earning a mere US$12-million at the box office.
The DVD, released Tuesday, includes a hefty helping of extras, including a pair of half-hour radio programs. In NPR's The Business, producer Matt Holzman explains the deal-making of the Sundance film festival, where The Matador first screened and was bought by Miramax for US$7.5-million. KCRW's Elvis Mitchell also interviews Shepard about the film. There are no visuals, but great behind-the-scenes information.
There are also two informative and wide-ranging commentaries, one with Shepard alone and another in which he is joined by Brosnan and Kinnear. We learn that in a scene in which Brosnan's leg is humped by a dog, it's actually "a stunt leg." (And presumably a stunt dog.)
A stuntman would have been helpful in another scene in which a garbage can erupts in flames. It got so out of control that Kinnear's plastic jacket melted. Even in the second take, the filmmakers turned the usual CGI process around to make the flame appear smaller. Watching the final version, Kinnear says, "There's no acting here. I'm just scared." Once again, it's clear that whatever he was being paid, it wasn't enough.
Some credit must also go to Mexico City, which doubles as Denver, Budapest and a few other locations. Shepard points out that when shooting in Montreal or New York, Hollywood types and hangers-on often pop in for lunch or just to ogle. Shooting in Mexico gave the cast and crew a sense of freedom. Brosnan was the only one consistently recognized, and that was from his title role in Remington Steele, which still airs on Mexican TV.
The Pierce/Greg/Shepard commentary is definitely on the US version. I've read conflicting reports/stats about the UK version though. Some places like Empire have two commentaries listed for th disc and others like Amazon.co.uk just have Shepards' lone commentary listed.
Pierce had said that they put smarties in his pants legs for the dog in other interviews and how the entire scene was so ridiculous to film. So I wonder if he was joking about using a "stunt leg".
So there is indeed a Pierce commentary. Brilliant!
I'm so glad that they kept the scene about Julian Lying about being a widower in. It's so true what Greg Kinnear says that it explains a lot about their friendship.
Oh, and LOL to the "stunt leg".
When I found out from Shepard's commentaries that they had excised this scene which also meant the cutting of the wife-swapping scene and its lead-in, my jaw was on the floor in disbelief. How could they even consider it? Thank heaven for Greg Kinnear's insistence not only for the sake of his character (which was what motivated him) but also for Pierce's. It goes to the core of Julian that he can bend others to his will through deception and has an immediate sense of where they are most vulnerable. We would also have missed a transformation in his character, that he owns up to the truth of things later on as a mark of respect for Danny and Bean. Edit to post: (To clarify the rationale as per the commentary, there was the greatest concern that the scene following the dance with Bean was a bit overlong / extraneous and so all accompanying "wife" references had to be given the snip.) Still, The Matador was hardly overlong. The fact that Shepard had the luxury of around an extra six weeks more than he's used to to edit may have turned him into Richard Scissorhands. Or maybe it was that sneaky Harvey Weinstein, LOL!
That was the most surprising, dare I say shocking, thing I learned in the commentaries. I hesitate to comment on them or on the deleted scenes because I don't want to spoil things for those who haven't seen them yet. I will say that the deletions are all cuts from other scenes, or transitions to them, not so new in themselves. There are some which I think could arguably have been left in full (there are some truly wonderful moments from the actors -- at least they are preserved for DVD) and others where I think the timing, tone, and pace of scenes, and the film overall, benefited from the cuts. I wonder if I should say anything about certain ones that Ace and I were particularly looking forward to?
One minor reveal I will mention from the commentaries because, like the SMA, I love the ponies is that PB had a very good day at the betting window at the races in Mexico. I'm glad that Richard Shepard didn't have them at the dog track which was his original intent (for its extra seediness factor, no doubt). He says there were no dog tracks in Mexico, but there is, in Tijuana. Sadly, the famed Agua Caliente where Seabiscuit and Phar Lap once raced has been converted for the puppies.
When Pierce talks about his luck with the gees gees (Brit term for the ponies) he's right to be pleased. It's either luck or a real tribute to his on-the-fly handicapping skills. The track manners and caliber of both horse and rider in Mexico these days is not of the same level as he's used to in Europe or the US (nor is the stewardship) so the outcome can be a much chancier proposition. Hat's off to him.