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This week:
The Matador

Filthy says:
"Bull shit."

When I got fired from the Family Dollar for stealing, my life was at a crossroads. I was too old to become an exotic dancer. I was too young to completely give up without having everyone yell at me to get off my ass. I'd have to grind out a few more years before I could do that. I reviewed the careers listed in the flaps of matchbooks, and for the first time in my life I found my calling: a job that didn't take much work, that would impress the ladies, paid really well, and I could learn through the mail. A matador. In exchange for money, a correspondence school promised to mail me their complete package: a how-to booklet; a set of audio tapes with Mexican music and bull snorting; a list of stadiums to send my resume to; daggers; confetti; tight white pants; weekly written tests that would be graded by a professional; and a bull.

I borrowed $400 from Worm at the Tavern because he had just won the lottery or ripped off a donut store; I don't recall which just that he brought in a newspaper clipping to show us. Anyway, I sent in the money and began dreaming about my future of fame and wealth amongst the decaying cultural relics in Mexico City. I dreamed of the day that I took what I'd learn from the books and tapes and applied it against a real live rampaging bull. I could imagine my nuts being squeezed into a tight fleshball by the lycra pants. I even tried to simulate the feeling with rubber bands and a Ziploc bag. That only got me more excited.

Turns out, the school was a scam; they never sent the bull, or the tapes; the how-to guide was handwritten on three-ring binder paper, and not even college rule. How could I have known? The ad seemed honest with the bold letters and a Mexican PO Box. Plus, I asked everyone at the Tavern and one guy said he knew a friend's sister who signed up for the course and actually got gored by a guernsey. It sucked. I had no fallback, had already Bedazzled the shit out of my nicest shirts, turned Mrs. Filthy's favorite red dress into a cape. And Worm was out $400.

I tell you this story not to make you feel sorry for me, although, you're more than welcome to do that. I used to hate pity, but I've come to realize that the express bus to Pitytown is the easiest ride around. Regardless, my point is that I have had a lifelong fascination with matadors for about five years now. They're so fucking macho, yet they look so damn sissified. It's a great look. Not one anyone can pull off. After I had ordered the correspondence course but before it had arrived I strutted around in my some tight clothes and a gold-braided sombrero. I got a lot of looks, a few ass-kickings and the occasional question, which was never, "Are you a matador?" It was "Are you some kind of homo?" or "If I bust you open does candy spill out?"

A few elderly ladies were more polite, but even they doubted me when I told them I dressed this way because i was a Bullfighter in Training. "But why are you wearing that at Home Depot?" "Because there may be a bull in plumbing, ma'am."

Needless to say, I was pretty excited about The Matador, a new movie starring Pierce Brosnan. I think there used to be a lot more matadors in movies during the time of Hemingway and those other fistfighting super males, and when Mexico was a glamorous, cosmopolitan part of the second world. Those movies were all about something missing in the matador: he couldn't cry, or couldn't love, or hated the part where the crowd made him buttfuck the cow. Whatever, matadors have always been ultra-macho characters with tragic flaws.

That's what this Matador is too, although the matador of the title is a hired assassin who equates his skill to that of a bullfighter. According to him, a great bullfighter respects his target, treats him with respect and kills him as efficiently and painlessly as possible. Brosnan's tragic flaw is that he's nearing the end of his career and all the emotionless slaughter is catching up with him. He is losing his edge as a killer because he has a hard time detaching himself from the situations the way he once did.

In Mexico on assignment, Brosnan meets and befriends a dull businessman (Greg Kinnear) during a drinking binge. Kinnear is attracted to the exoticness and excitement of what Brosnan does, and Brosnan is drawn to Kinnear's stability and happiness. Brosnan has no permanent address, no family or loved ones, and no class. Kinnear has all of those. Brosnan insinuates himself into Kinnear's life because, after one night of drinking, this is the best friend he has.

Shaky from a loss of confidence and the discovery of a conscience, Brosnan botches a couple of high-profile jobs. His syndicate wants him dead, so he goes into hiding at Kinnear's suburban home. He also asks Kinnear to help him with one last murder. If he completes it, he will be allowed to live. If he fails, he's dead. and Kinnear agrees.

There's nothing revolutionary about the story of the Matador. It's another story of a criminal who really isn't so bad but has to do one more job before he can get out of the crime life. What elevates it a notch above, say, something with Sylvester Stallone, is Brosnan's performance as a gone-to-pot, bone-and-fat man who doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about his appearance or his morals. He's always seedy looking, his clothes about a half-size too small and his eyes continually bloodshot. He'll fuck just about anything that moves, but has a predilection for underage girls.

The movie looks fantastic, too, when it's south of the border. Mexico City is a weird place. As recently as 60 years ago it was a world-class city full of amazing art and culture. Now, it's mostly impoverished and rotting, with flecks of brutal wealth and decaying artifacts. When The Matador is there, it comes to life. When it is in Denver, Vienna or Budapest, it feels flat.

The soundtrack gets bonus points, because any one that includes the Jam's "Town Called Malice" deserves extra credit. Fuck, that's a great song. Throughout the movie, the music is cool and fitting without being intrusive or pointing out its coolness.

The movie's moral message is completely muddled. Writer/director Richard Shepard gets too wrapped in breaking Brosnan's typecast to know exactly what he wants to say. It's funny to watch a guy act sort of sleazy and dirty and somewhat clueless. Hell, that's why I spend as much time at the Tavern as I do. But, there is little to hold on to in Brosnan's character beyond a superficial enjoyment of his antics. And Kinnear's character is too easily acquiescent to murder to provide a counterpoint. The movie tries to show his transformation at the hands of Kinnear, but by the time it happens they are both so compromised that the message rings hollow.

Three Fingers for The Matador, an amusing if a little forced story with a hell of a performance by Remington Steele himself. So, does anyone have his e-mail address? I want to see if he got the correspondence course. He looked like he did.


Help Filthy || Want to tell Filthy Something?



Paul Fischer of Dark Horizons

Firewall is "Hugely entertaining and exciting!"

The Pink Panther is "A wonderful comic gem!"

Filthy's Reading
Jim Thompson- The Nothing Man

Listening to
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah


Grizzly Man