my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   The Matador
Director:   Richard Shepard
Year:   2005
Genre:   Comedy
Times Seen:   2
Last Seen:   01.30.06

Other Movies Seen By This Director (1)
- Dom Hemingway

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
01.30.06Alamo South Lamar The Alamo is playing this so I saw it again. Still good, still funny. I wish Kinnear would get more sympathetic roles like this. I guess he makes a good dick but I don't like him... it's like it's too easy for him or something. Wouldn't it be cool if they did a Talk Soup movie and put Kinnear up against John Henson? OK maybe not.

Afterward I made it over to downtown to see 60s promotional videos for a few hours. good stuff. another awesome triple feature!!!
10.22.05ParamountThis Screening is part of event: Austin Film Festival 2005
The Matador is the story of a hitman (Pierce Brosnan in an absolutely electric performance) who's a little burned out and befriends a businessman (Greg Kinnear) in Mexico City and realizes that he's his only friend. The idea is somewhat done but this movie proves to be humorous, surprising, energetic, and intelligent enough to elevate a familiar premise to something extremely enjoyable. The writing is sharp and witty, filled with hilarious moments of surprise, discomfort, and depression. Perhaps the landmark iconic scene in the film, where Pierce Brosnan walks through a hotel lobby in his underwear and boots into a swimming pool, comes together with a near-perfect combination of music, direction, and Brosnan's performance. This is a real showcase role for Brosnan and he fills it tremendously well, making me think about what each one of his Bond movies could have been.

The reset of the cast fills the movie out nicely, Kinnear in good-acting mode rather than annoying-prick mode that he sometimes slips into with his typical characters, and Hope Davis bringing a lot to her role as the wife. After Kinnear and Brosnan meet for this intense few days down in Mexio City, the movie cuts to six months later where Kinnear has grown a brosnan-esque mustache and we see the effect of Brosnan's character on this one. It's a really cool line that threads through the second half of the film, that energy that somehow transfers when you meet someone exactly opposite of you. There's also a lot of tension in the film even though Shepard refuses to show us the traditionally tense moments in a hitman film. We already know all that stuff, we've seen important men taken out by sniper fire hundreds of times. Instead, he works on that audience knowledge to create tension on the possibility of those traditional moments rearing their ugly heads. Uh oh, two characters are talking in front of an open window, will a bullet come through there right before they divulge important information? The movie plays masterfully well with those ideas and keeps you engaged until the credits roll.

So in summation, I liked this movie a lot. It was great fun and I really hope it does well so the Broccoli family will see what they have wasted with what could have been the best Bond since Connery.

Ahem. Anyway, writer/director Richard Shepard was in attendance and supplied some As to Qs after the show:

-Shepard originally wrote the script after a project that he was working on fell through. It fell through so horrendously that his agent actually fired him. Out of frustration and angst, he wrote The Matador never really imagining that it would get sold. He had a main character that no actor in his right mind would want to play, a hitman movie with no hitman moments, and it was all about two grown men becoming friends. He was intending to shoot on digital for 20 grand. Pierce Brosnan's production company had an open call out for a writer on Thomas Crown Affair 2 so Shepard's new agent sent them this script as a writing sample but a few weeks later Shepard got a call from Pierce saying he'd like to star and produce this movie. From there, once Brosnan was attached, more actors started flocking and they actually had a budget so digital became 35mm and this little "screw you, Hollywood" project became an actual movie.

-When it became evident that they could get big actors to fill the other rolls, Shepard wrote Greg Kinnear and Hope Davis down as first choices.

-All the settings in the movie (Mexico City, Denver, Tuscon, Budapest, Manilla, among others) were shot in Mexico City. Casting and set dressing became a serious issue, as where are you going to find a brothel full of Thai hookers or snow to make Moscow and Denver seem cold in Mexico City? A lot of the dirty mangy extras were actually embassy staff.

-The costume designer, who'd previously worked on Kill Bill, came in with the idea of dressing Brosnan in clothes a half-size too small. This fit perfectly with Shepard's idea that Brosnan should be scruffy in this movie, with clothes that aren't perfectly tailored, some salt mixing with the pepper in his hair, a big mustache, and maybe even a bit of pot belly.

-Shepard was incredibly lucky to get sound editor Richard Hymns, who's worked on films such as Saving Private Ryan and Fight Club. Apparently, Richard read the script and called Shepard up, saying he'd just come off Catwoman which was such a piece of sh** that he'd like to work on something he actually liked. Hymns got paid scale to do this film.

-The cast stayed in the hotel where they shot. The hotel actually made a deal that they could screen their dailies there every night with an open bar. 20 movie guys coming in after a long day's work in the Mexico sun meant bad news for the bartender, so Shepard's pretty sure the hotel lost money on that but they were very nice and accommodating. For the scene where Brosnan walks through the lobby of the hotel, it wasn't planned but Shepard thought the lobby looked so great that they should use it somehow so he asked brosnan "How do you feel about walking through here in your underwear" and Brosnan asked back "can I wear my boots?"

-The shot that comes at the end of that scene, which got huge laughs from the audience, wasn't originally planned. That, along with several other things, was actually created in editing after casual small test screenings. The net effect of these changes was mostly to make it more humorous.

-In the beginning of the film, a Porsche blows up. To get the Porsche, Shepard said they had to drive one down from Texas, because Porsches in Mexico City just don't exist (they'd be carjacked in like 20 seconds). They could still barely afford to rent one for one day so it's just a shell that's actually blown up, although even then he only had one take for the explosion and it was on the first day of shooting AND it was with a Mexican stunt crew, none of whom spoke any English at all. Needless to say, Shepard was a bit nervous on his first day.

-When asked about Brosnan's character's sexuality, Shepard quoted Bowie, saying that he was "try-sexual. He'd try anything."

-This was the first script that Shepard wrote without an outline, not knowing how the story would end. At one point he had such bad writer's block that he put the script away and didn't pick it up for six months. When he did, he wrote "six months later" and went from there, which remains in the finished film. On writing in general however, he stated that he writes so that he can direct. He loves the entire process of movie-making and wants to be involved as much as he can.

Special thanks go out to the guy whose "question was really a 15-minute gush about how much he liked the movie and all the incredible insight he had into exactly why the movie was so good. We all respect your anonymous talent that much more and really only stuck around to hear you talk, not the writer/director.

The Q&A went a bit long so I really had to hurry to make the midnight movie, a film whose blurb was so bizarre that I could not miss it for the world.
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